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The power of asking questions


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Don't just guess and assume what your buyers want – ask questions! When you assume, you risk a mess-up that could tank your ratings, especially now with the new success score digging into your every move, but you also risk making your buyers generally unhappy. 

What's obvious to you might not be to the buyer and vice versa. Be thorough in your questions, and double-check even the small stuff. This way, you're not just delivering; you're impressing, and showing the buyer that you care about what they want. It's a straightforward strategy, but I think many sellers forget to simply ask. 

 

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5 hours ago, smashradio said:

It's a straightforward strategy, but I think many sellers forget to simply ask. 

 

It's not necessarily about forgetting, it could be about sellers being afraid to annoy buyers by asking too many questions.

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6 hours ago, smashradio said:

Don't just guess and assume what your buyers want – ask questions! When you assume, you risk a mess-up that could tank your ratings, especially now with the new success score digging into your every move, but you also risk making your buyers generally unhappy. 

What's obvious to you might not be to the buyer and vice versa. Be thorough in your questions, and double-check even the small stuff. This way, you're not just delivering; you're impressing, and showing the buyer that you care about what they want. It's a straightforward strategy, but I think many sellers forget to simply ask. 

 

Thanks a lot for for your valuable advice.

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This advice is useful, especially with those over-sensitive buyers, who might rate you well, but then fry you in a private review because of some stuff. Then again, you will always have those who are never satisfied, but the point is to reduce the probability of a negative rate/review as much as you can, considering the present rules 😒

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This instruction is obviously important, only asking questions and proper communication can mitigate any risk of making mistakes and any gap between buyer-seller. It helps to make the seller more clear about buyer need and requirements.

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4 hours ago, milos_siena said:

This advice is useful, especially with those over-sensitive buyers, who might rate you well, but then fry you in a private review because of some stuff. Then again, you will always have those who are never satisfied, but the point is to reduce the probability of a negative rate/review as much as you can, considering the present rules 😒

Some buyers might fry you in a private review because you were asking too many questions. You're the expert, you're supposed to know, that sort of thing.

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10 hours ago, imagination7413 said:

Oh, I have stories about miscommunications. People are not mind readers. 

Adding two threads related to this topic for reference:

https://community.fiverr.com/forums/topic/282452-the-dangers-of-asking-the-wrong-questions/ 

https://community.fiverr.com/forums/topic/315291-tip-for-new-sellers-ask-the-right-questions/ 

Very useful for new sellers on the forum! As with many other posts here, they should be mandatory to read before being allowed to post. 

Now I want to hear your stories. 

6 hours ago, catwriter said:

It's not necessarily about forgetting, it could be about sellers being afraid to annoy buyers by asking too many questions.

That too. But if you're afraid of  your clients, you're in the wrong line of work as a freelancer, in my opinion. I don't think I've ever annoyed my buyers by asking relevant questions, though. Have you?

4 hours ago, milos_siena said:

This advice is useful, especially with those over-sensitive buyers, who might rate you well, but then fry you in a private review because of some stuff. Then again, you will always have those who are never satisfied, but the point is to reduce the probability of a negative rate/review as much as you can, considering the present rules 😒

Yeah, and this has always been true for as long as the buyer satisfaction rate has been a thing. I don't think the system has changed that much, to be honest, if you disregard the fact that everything is now run by Neo's evil twin, which I have named GobbleLogic 2000. But the fact is, we've had the buyer satisfaction rate hanging over our heads for years, we've just not been able to see it before now. 

16 minutes ago, catwriter said:

Some buyers might fry you in a private review because you were asking too many questions. You're the expert, you're supposed to know, that sort of thing.

There's a distinction between posing the right questions and asking irrelevant ones. If a buyer specifies they need 1000 words, you don't ask "Can I deliver 800 instead?" If they request an upbeat tone, you don't ask "What tone should I use?"

I begin my interactions by explaining to the client that I have a set of questions that enables me to deliver the best possible outcome (I like to believe they want that too). 

I approach it as a partnership, and tell them my goal is to help them grow and succeed. To achieve that, I need the right information.

In my experience, buyers like discussing their business or product with someone who shows genuine interest.

But then again, I stay away from low budget buyers. They often expect you to know everything upfront and seem to believe that they've now invested their life savings into you. That comes with some unrealistic expectations. Big budget buyers are usually pros who are used to working with other pros, so I guess that helps, too. 

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43 minutes ago, catwriter said:

Some buyers might fry you in a private review because you were asking too many questions. You're the expert, you're supposed to know, that sort of thing.

I don't think that any seller knows the causes of negative private reviews. That's why they are private. I do agree that when you are dealing with someone who is never satisfied, even asking questions (relevant too) might cause a negative review. But that's just a buyer looking for a reason (any) to rate you negatively. You can't fix this kind of people, but fortunately, they are not the majority.

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5 hours ago, smashradio said:

I don't think I've ever annoyed my buyers by asking relevant questions, though. Have you?

Yes, I have. It mostly boils down to them expecting me to know what they want when they don't know it themselves. Or they just didn't feel like answering so many questions, they expected me to magically know the answers (even though the questions were about their preferences).

5 hours ago, smashradio said:

But then again, I stay away from low budget buyers.

Yes, I think this problem may be more common with low-cost orders.

Edited by catwriter
typo
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I ask sufficient amount of questions to ascertain the 'scope of work' for the order, which also ensures that me and the buyer are on the same page wrt expectations and deliverables. 90% of my work on the platform has been through custom orders. So, through the questions, I also ascertain the time and effort which will be required for the work - to arrive at the cost & timeline for the custom order.

Occasionally, I do encounter buyers who need the end product but are clueless about what information they need to provide. For them, I create a simple questionnaire in a word doc and ask them to fill it. 


Story:🫠

I had once encountered a buyer who refused to answer the questions and said, "I don't have time for your questions. If I had to provide you with all THESE answers, then what am going to pay you for??" 🥰

 

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17 minutes ago, smashradio said:

Now I want to hear your stories. 

Most of them come from my day job, so I'd rather not share those in a public forum. Or, they're so convoluted that it would take me hours to explain in typing, in part because some of them I'm still not sure how they happened. Or, the drama is still going on. (I just tried to type out one example, and I'm giving up. I really don't have the time today. I might try again later, if I can figure out how to explain some of the more baffling aspects.) 

I can think of one that is fairly short and simple to explain, though. A very young coworker (fresh out of high school) who worked with us for about two months was constantly making references to memes and shows that most us had never seen. Without the context, they fell rather flat, and he'd often have to explain, but we'd still not 'get it'. Like jumping to the punchline of a joke without the leadup. Very minor, but a perfect example of assumptions that the listener knows what you're talking about. 

One that is more related to Fiverr, as an example of 'need more info', is this thread I participated in two years ago, back when Buyer's Requests were still a thing (forewarned: it's a fairly long read). 

https://community.fiverr.com/forums/topic/276507-new-to-fiverr-and-looking-for-digital-artist-for-large-project/ 

Also, I just watched this yesterday, and the first 1:45 of the video is a perfect example of cultural assumptions and miscommunication:

Quote

People are confusing. Communication takes work. And communication skills need training, just like any other skill. 

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5 hours ago, milos_siena said:

I don't think that any seller knows the causes of negative private reviews. That's why they are private. I do agree that when you are dealing with someone who is never satisfied, even asking questions (relevant too) might cause a negative review. But that's just a buyer looking for a reason (any) to rate you negatively. You can't fix this kind of people, but fortunately, they are not the majority.

We can figure out the reasons behind negative private feedback, and our guesses can be pretty informed, based on our dealings with clients. If our numbers take a hit a week or two after interacting with a difficult buyer, it's worth revisiting those orders to see where things went wrong.

It's also a good idea to evaluate each order after completion (regardless of the buyer feedback) to pinpoint what could've been improved, and then match your self-review with your track record on Fiverr over time.

Pinpointing the sources of negative feedback isn't too hard if you dedicate some time to introspection and self-assessment. 

When my son was born, I was understandably distracted. Since taking extended breaks from Fiverr could tank your career on the platform, quitting wasn't in the cards. My SM alerted me that my buyer satisfaction was slipping, so I took some time for a bit of self-reflection. 

Here's what I pinpointed:

  1. My focus on work had dropped, yet I was taking on as much work as before.
  2. I had less time for each client because I was juggling responsibilities with a pooping, screaming bundle of joy.
  3. Lack of sleep was impacting my performance.

I identified six orders with obvious problems, ranging from one I had to extend twice without timely communication with the buyer, to overlooking crucial details, and even a few where the quality of my work was less than stellar. 

Needless to say, I wasn't pleased with my performance, so why would those six buyers be? Two were repeat customers, and I lost one of them (they didn't return for their usual weekly order). I was pretty certain they left a negative review.

I also found a few other orders as potential sources of negative feedback, based on the fact that they were first-timers with me, didn't leave a review, and I noticed a significant drop in visibility after those orders auto-completed.

So, it's possible to identify them and address them. My strategy was to cut back by dropping one of the gigs causing problems, and to concentrate on my core services. I also increased my prices to lighten my workload. A couple of months down the line, my SM told me things were getting back on track.

As business owners we may not get to see the actual private feedback, but if you're not evaluating your performance, scrutinizing your orders, and doing some honest self-evaluation, you'll be in the dark until it's too late, and you find yourself buried on page 37.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, catwriter said:

Yes, in have. It mostly boils down to them expecting me to know what they want when they don't know it themselves. Or they just didn't feel like answering so many questions, they expected me to magically know the answers (even though the questions were about their preferences).

Yes, I think this problem may be more common with low-cost orders.

Yeah, I know the type. Haven't seen them since I raised my rates and went pro, but yes, they're out there. I've had a few of them when I was new to the platform.

 

4 hours ago, imagination7413 said:

People are confusing. Communication takes work. And communication skills need training, just like any other skill. 

So true! 

And yes, I recently interviewed a couple of teens for my newspaper, and could hardly understand what they said. I realized two things: If I ask, I'll look old. If I don't ask, I have to guess. I decided to look old. 

 

Edited by smashradio
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6 hours ago, catwriter said:

You're the expert, you're supposed to know, that sort of thing.

I find it's better to have them make decisions instead of asking questions. So instead of asking, "What color do you want?" it works better to say, "As far as color, blue and green seem to be the best choices, and I think blue is preferred. What do you think?"  90% will agree on blue. By limiting to a binary choice between 2 good options you keep them from selecting a pink ocean.

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6 minutes ago, newsmike said:

I find it's better to have them make decisions instead of asking questions. So instead of asking, "What color do you want?" it works better to say, "As far as color, blue and green seem to be the best choices, and I think blue is preferred. What do you think?"  90% will agree on blue. By limiting to a binary choice between 2 good options you keep them from selecting a pink ocean.

Not a bad strategy at all. You position yourself as the expert, then provide them with choices based on that, guiding them towards the best course of action.

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4 hours ago, smashradio said:

Not a bad strategy at all. You position yourself as the expert, then provide them with choices based on that, guiding them towards the best course of action.

And if they go a different way and hate it, you fall back on "Told ya so", revisions are only $XXX

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10 hours ago, newsmike said:

I find it's better to have them make decisions instead of asking questions. So instead of asking, "What color do you want?" it works better to say, "As far as color, blue and green seem to be the best choices, and I think blue is preferred. What do you think?"  90% will agree on blue. By limiting to a binary choice between 2 good options you keep them from selecting a pink ocean.

I did that, too, and some of them would pick blue, and then, when I did blue, they'd remember that blue wouldn't work in their specific case because of so-and-so, and demand new work to be done in green.

That was back in the day when I still offered $5 gigs, and charging those buyers for revisions never worked, they'd opt for a cancellation.

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I've found questions in the inbox + RTO has helped to scatter the "you're the expert, what am I paying you for?" buyers scatter in the wind, as well as positioning them as the expert in their business and knowing their customer needs. I've noticed that (poorly run) silent agencies don't like this very much, since I'm effectively asking them to do a lot of extra hump work that they haven't done. 

I'm going to start testing my Google Form this week, which has a lot of questions, choices and checkboxes, with written answers reserved for things that can't be easily predefined. This will pop out a Google Doc that has organized all those responses into an easily readable format that will get me up to speed with around 95% of what they want, their biz, and their target market, and from there on out it a little mopping up with more specific questions. I haven't quite managed to fix the Google Slide proposal that gives them multiple strategic offers based on their answers yet, but there's only so much you can automate these things. The irony of essentially creating my own packages quite unnecessarily is not lost on me, either... but at least these packages are dynamic. And no, no AI - this is pure automation using tools like Zapier, Make, and Airtable. Everytime I introduced GPT into the equation, the quality bombed 🙂

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12 hours ago, newsmike said:

And if they go a different way and hate it, you fall back on "Told ya so", revisions are only $XXX

The Rock Dwayne Johnson GIF - The Rock Dwayne Johnson The Rundown GIFs

 

6 hours ago, catwriter said:

I did that, too, and some of them would pick blue, and then, when I did blue, they'd remember that blue wouldn't work in their specific case because of so-and-so, and demand new work to be done in green.

That was back in the day when I still offered $5 gigs, and charging those buyers for revisions never worked, they'd opt for a cancellation.

Yeah those five-dollar-buyers... Run, forest, run. 

(Two movie references in one post!)

5 hours ago, emmaki said:

Everytime I introduced GPT into the equation, the quality bombed 🙂

Surprise, surprise. I would love to see a demo of your system once it's up and working. I think you're on to something, and if you can get the backend to disappear and provide a polished product, I think you could make some money with this. A lot of agencies and freelancers still do this manually (including me) and I would easily pay for something like this if it works well. 

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On 4/6/2024 at 2:50 PM, smashradio said:

That too. But if you're afraid of  your clients, you're in the wrong line of work as a freelancer, in my opinion. I don't think I've ever annoyed my buyers by asking relevant questions, though. Have you?

I've never had buyers tell me I ask too many questions either. If anything, they told me they liked it because it showed a commitment to thoroughly understand their project before working on it. 

Besides asking questions, whenever they share a lot of information I summarize by saying 'so if I understand correctly you want X and Y'. This helps by getting on the same page plus I can refer to it whenever they decide to do a 180 😅

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42 minutes ago, smashradio said:

Surprise, surprise. I would love to see a demo of your system once it's up and working. I think you're on to something, and if you can get the backend to disappear and provide a polished product, I think you could make some money with this. A lot of agencies and freelancers still do this manually (including me) and I would easily pay for something like this if it works well. 

Probably not going to be ready for a while! I do think GPT could be a great part of this system, but not the current models and their wilful disobedience when it comes to prompting. So I'm pretty much waiting for the new GPT model(s) to come out as I improve my automation skills. The idea isn't for GPT to write an entire proposal, but instead to fill out key details from the database directly from the form, then send the GDoc to GPT to go through a series of prompts, delivering the output directly into the proposal placeholders for a final check/clean before sending it over (although perhaps not in the <5 minutes this all takes to finish). GPT, unfortunately, is incapable of following basic instructions when it could waffle on for paragraphs (a trait I admittedly share with it). 

I'm quite interested to see how people filling out the form destroys everything too. 

 

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50 minutes ago, sabinespoems said:

I've never had buyers tell me I ask too many questions either. If anything, they told me they liked it because it showed a commitment to thoroughly understand their project before working on it. 

Besides asking questions, whenever they share a lot of information I summarize by saying 'so if I understand correctly you want X and Y'. This helps by getting on the same page plus I can refer to it whenever they decide to do a 180 😅

Exactly. I think being proactive and asking questions can also be a way of showing the buyer that you mean business, and you're not just working on autopilot. I know I feel much safer as a client that way. But I always let the buyer know why I ask so many questions, so they know that it's in their best interest to respond, and not because I don't know what I'm doing. 

Summarizing their responses is always a good idea. 

1 minute ago, emmaki said:

Probably not going to be ready for a while! I do think GPT could be a great part of this system, but not the current models and their wilful disobedience when it comes to prompting. So I'm pretty much waiting for the new GPT model(s) to come out as I improve my automation skills. The idea isn't for GPT to write an entire proposal, but instead to fill out key details from the database directly from the form, then send the GDoc to GPT to go through a series of prompts, delivering the output directly into the proposal placeholders for a final check/clean before sending it over (although perhaps not in the <5 minutes this all takes to finish). GPT, unfortunately, is incapable of following basic instructions when it could waffle on for paragraphs (a trait I admittedly share with it). 

I'm quite interested to see how people filling out the form destroys everything too. 

 

Yeah the current GPT needs some work. Sometimes, it flat out refuses to do what's asked of it. I actually prefer Bing Chat in most cases. I used Claude for a while until they stopped offering it in the EU due to GDPR and AI laws, and it was great at organizing information. I mostly use GPT to eat data these days - so if I have to write about something that requires me to easily get data from research, I'll set up a GPT with all the knowledge and basically use it like a search engine to pull up info from those documents. 

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On 4/6/2024 at 6:17 AM, smashradio said:

Don't just guess and assume what your buyers want – ask questions! When you assume, you risk a mess-up that could tank your ratings, especially now with the new success score digging into your every move, but you also risk making your buyers generally unhappy. 

What's obvious to you might not be to the buyer and vice versa. Be thorough in your questions, and double-check even the small stuff. This way, you're not just delivering; you're impressing, and showing the buyer that you care about what they want. It's a straightforward strategy, but I think many sellers forget to simply ask. 

 

Embrace curiosity, ignite growth. Questions are the key to discovery and innovation. Dare to inquire, and you'll unlock boundless possibilities. In the pursuit of answers lies the path to greatness. Ask boldly, learn endlessly, and conquer new horizons 🙂

Edited by nionkhan2020
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Good you bring this up! Do have to say that asking too many confirming questions can be a bit disturbing, especially when the buyer has little time. That can happen in the beginning when you first start and you want to make sure the job is done well. Then the buyer can say ´I already told you this and this needs to be done´. So have to find a balance in this. 🙂 Anyway goodluck everyone 

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