It’s easy for you to sing your company’s praises, but it’s not nearly as compelling or credible as a third-party endorsement. Testimonials are more important today than they were 20 or even 10 years ago. In the pre-Internet era, a customer testimonial might have been used as part of a print ad or radio/TV commercial. Now, something as seemingly benign as a LIKE on Facebook business page can be seen as a subtle endorsement.
Thanks to the Internet, there are more places than ever before for testimonials (and negative comments) to show up: review sites (e.g. YELP and Angie’s List), social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), websites, advertising (print and digital), not to mention good old-fashioned word of mouth.
Since the types of testimonials have changed over the years (e.g. a positive tweet or a five-star online rating), the way you ask customers for testimonials needs to evolve, too. While we, as business owners ourselves, love to receive unsolicited glowing reviews from happy customers, the reality is that soliciting customer testimonials needs to become a regular part of every company’s marketing tasks. That said, we get it: reaching out to customers and requesting that they leave a review, a comment, or a Facebook “like” isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone.
Here are five tips to make the process of asking for customer testimonials a whole lot easier:
1. Remind people to review you on third-party sites. People who are happy with a product service are often quite willing to share their happiness in the form of a review or a written testimonial you can use in a variety of ways, like on your newsletter or website. (Check Amsterdam Printing’s reviews on the Reseller Ratings website.) But you need to remind your customers to take action – and you need to do it more than once. Two ideas:
- Include a simple line at the bottom of all electronic correspondence you have with customers (think order confirmation, shipping confirmation, etc.). The line could say this: “Like our product/service? Be sure to review us.” Then, include a link to whatever review site you want to push people toward, such as Yelp.
- Ask your social media followers to review your products or services on review sites (and include a link) – mention it every few months at different times of the day. Remember, this is an ongoing process.
2. Encourage word-of-mouth testimonials through referral programs. We all love positive word-of-mouth endorsements. So why not encourage your best customers to talk you up to their family and friends by creating a fun referral program for them to participate in? They get something out of it, and so do you – even more word of mouth that reaches farther and wider. (Bonus: read this post on one way to set up a cool referral program.)
3. Conduct surveys. When you conduct surveys, make sure you include some sort of verbiage that lets people know by participating in the survey, the person allows portions of his or her responses to be used for promotional purposes. Even if the surveys are anonymous, you can still pull out positive comments and use them in your marketing materials.
4. Strike when the iron is hot and make it EASY for the customer. In other words, you want to ask when the customer is at his or her happiest – right after the wonderful massage or after you put the finishing touches on the deck or once you deliver the final photos to your wedding client. You get the idea. Ask the person what he/she thought of the experience, jot down some notes, and then ask the person if it would be OK to use these words in a testimonial alongside the person’s name (99% of the time, people will say yes). Type up your notes into a testimonial and email the person the final version.
5. Don’t ignore low-hanging fruit! Be sure to respond to positive emails/letters and ask for permission to use their words. As we mentioned above, the best testimonials are the ones that come in on their own. What do you do with these positive and enthusiastic emails or letters? What you should do is follow up with the customer right away and ask his or her permission to use the words in a testimonial (and ask for permission to use the person’s name as well). We recommend getting the permission in writing (email is fine) and saving these permissions in a file.
Wondering what to do with all of these awesome customer testimonials now that you have them? Be sure to read our blog post on 10 ways to use customer testimonials.
Do you have an effective way to ask customers for testimonials? Share in the comments.