Testimonials are a great way to reinforce the idea that you provide good quality products and services to your customers. Using them on your website and on your other marketing materials establishes expertise and trustworthiness. Here are five tips to improve your testimonials:
Ask for testimonials! Many small business owners either don’t have time or feel embarrassed about asking for testimonials. But the truth is that if you have done a good job, customers are happy to recommend you. And it seems obvious, but – you’re not going to get good testimonials without asking for them. If you can’t make the time or get over the discomfort, teach an employee what he or she needs to do, or hire a marketing firm with experience getting testimonials to help you.
Put your potential customers in the shoes of your satisfied client. Get your testimonials from people who are most like your target customer. That means that if you are hoping to primarily serve other small businesses, you don’t use all residential customers to provide your testimonials. If you plan to target restaurant owners for your new service, don’t have testimonials from engineers.
Use specific names and locations in your testimonials. What do you think when you see a page of testimonials with no first name, no location, or even no name at all (just “a satisfied customer”)? Right, you suspect they might be made up!
There are a very few businesses in which you might not be able to have many people willing to attach their names to a recommendation – if you help your customers get rid of embarrassing body odor or battle alcohol addiction, you might have more problems getting on-the-record quotes. Even then, if you do good work, some of your clients may be willing to let you use their names as part of their testimonial that you helped them overcome the embarrassing or socially unacceptable problem they once had.
Ask for testimonials using an interview approach. You’ll get better, more convincing information if you use details and the actual spoken words of your client. So, interview them in person or over the phone. You’ll need a few minutes; plan to ask several questions to get one good quote. It’s usually more accurate if you can record the conversations and transcribe them later.
Don’t ask yes or no questions. Try asking questions around what part of your product or service they liked best; how you saved them money or gave them a better value than they could have gotten elsewhere; how easy you were to work with; or how good your customer service and communication skills were.
When you have a quote you would like to use, clean up any issues with grammar or redundant wording and ask the client by email or phone to confirm that it is OK for you to use that quote.
Think quality, not quantity. These tips are all designed to get good quality testimonials, but what if you don’t have very many and your competitors have several? While getting testimonials from satisfied clients is an ongoing process, you can make a better impression with one or two well placed, detailed testimonials than a slew of short, generic ones.
Let’s use “Lucinda” the bookkeeper as an example. Which of the following would provide more encouragement to do business with this person?
1. Many short testimonials.
“I love Lucinda! She’s great!! Thanks so much!!!! – A. Smith
“Thanks for the good work. We will use you again.” – J. Jones
“Great job, Lucinda.” – D. Doe
2. One solid, detail-filled testimonial.
“Our small business bookkeeping was a mess when Lucinda took over. Within one month, she had our financial records organized and had located areas where I could save nearly $500 a month. She’s also easy to communicate with and always returns my calls quickly when I have a question. We have recommended Lucinda’s Small Business Bookkeeping to many of our friends who own small businesses.” – Kelly Arthur, owner of Arthur’s Janitorial Services, Corvallis, Oregon
If you’ve used the other tips in this post, you’ll have testimonials closer to #2 than to #1, and those more detailed testimonials will work well to inspire trust in your potential customers.