After a handover is completed in a Contest or 1-to-1 Project, the client is asked to leave a public review for their designer using a 1 to 5 star rating system:
Clients are asked to leave a review for their designer immediately after the project is complete and is reminded via email if they do not. While it is okay to encourage the client to leave you a rating, keep in mind that 99designs is also sending them reminders to rate you, so don't be too pushy. :)
The star rating along with any public comments will be seen on the designer's About page. Any private comments will be sent to the designer via email and will not be visible to anyone else. Clients may choose "Hide my name and design" if they wish to keep their name and work private while leaving a review. These will show as "anonymous" reviews on the designer's About page.
Responding to a public client review
You will be notified that a client has left you a new review. You then have 14 days to respond if you wish (responding is optional). After 14 days, designers can no longer post a response to a public client review.
You will see a text box under the client's comments where you can type and then submit your reply:
Be sure you are happy with what you have written before you click submit. We will notify the client that you have responded and your response will be immediately visible on your designer profile:
Reporting a false, offensive, or irrelevant client review
If you feel the client has left an irrelevant, false, or offensive review, you should NOT respond. Instead, click the "..." button on the design itself and choose "Report review" from the dropdown menu:
Our support team will review the report as soon as possible and determine if the review should be removed from your profile. They will let you know the outcome of your report. You may not ever threaten, intimidate, or demand that the client change their rating. This is considered a violation of our Code of Conduct and may lead to temporary or permanent account suspension, depending on the severity of the offense.
You will not impress 100% of people 100% of the time... and that's okay.
Not all clients will leave a 5-star review for a job well done. Most clients consider 3 stars to be a "good" job and only leave 4 or 5 stars for designers that go above and beyond or were amazingly impressive. Clients also report that seeing all 4 and 5-star reviews on a designer's profile makes them skeptical and that they are less likely to trust the reviews there. Clients are actually more likely to choose a designer with a good mix of mostly positive reviews on their profile.
Remember the Code of Conduct when responding to a client review! Your response is a reflection of what it is like to work with you and will be visible to all potential clients. Even if you feel the review is unfair, your response needs to be professional and rational. In fact, clients may decide to work with you based on how well you handle negative criticism.
Tips for responding to negative reviews
You can find lots of great advice online for how to respond to negative reviews, but here are some of our favorite tips.
1) Don't respond immediately. It's easy to let emotions overwhelm you in the moment and you don't want to say anything you'll regret later. Instead, give yourself some time to think about why the client said what they did and recognize any valid points they made. In your response, be transparent about any mistakes, delays, or things that caused the client to become frustrated. Show empathy and understanding, especially toward clients who do not have a lot of experience hiring designers. Remember that clients are very emotionally invested in their project (this is their business, their "baby"!) and recognize they too can get heated.
2) Don't take it personally. Not even the world's best or most talented freelancers get perfect feedback from 100% of their clients. Sounding defensive or angry in your response may scare away other potential clients. Even if you feel the client is out of line, respond rationally, factually, and don't be afraid to apologize for their bad experience even if you feel it was not your fault. Remember, no one is perfect and eventually, those occasional bad reviews will be buried under all of the good ones. As long as your average is staying at or above 4 stars, you're doing great!
3) Message the client privately first. If you are surprised by a review or feel there must be some misunderstanding, message the client privately before responding. This is an opportunity to turn a negative review into a positive by reaching out and offering to make it right. Ask the client what you could have done differently or if there is anything you can do now to earn a higher rating. Please remember the Code of Conduct in your private messages to clients and remember, you may not ever threaten, intimidate, or demand that the client change their rating.
You can also ask for advice from other designers in our designer community forum here.
- How To Respond To Negative Reviews (Including Examples) by Ryan Erskine for Forbes
- Nine Ways To Handle Customer Critique (And Not Take It Personally) by YEC Panel on Forbes