If your business is selling a product that people know about, then getting client testimonials is nice. However, if your business is selling services then getting client testimonials is essential. There are few more successful techniques to bring in a potential customer and get them sold on your company than having someone like them-someone they believe-endorse your services.
What makes a good client testimonial?
- It's believable. Good testimonials come from real people. People with names, locations, businesses and problems just like those of your potential customers.
- It's specific. An effective testimonial will have examples of how your services helped them-save money, become more productive, have fewer worries. The testimonial can state before and after conditions or provide quantifiable information.
- "When our computer system crashed, we lost thousands of customer records. Now that we work with XYZ Company, I know that will never happen again because they backup our data every night." Sam Smith, CEO of Junius Advertising; Dayton, OH.
- "XYZ Company saved us over $500 a month by providing packaged IT services with predictable monthly costs instead of nickel and diming us with add-ons." Mary Jones, chief accountant; Blackmon Management Services; Springfield, MO.
- It highlights your discriminators. When you began your business, you had a business model in your mind of how your operations were going to be better than your competition whether that was personalization of services, rapid response, one-stop shopping, flexible hours, or having certified professionals. Some of your testimonials should mention those discriminators.
- "I thought we would lose an entire work day when our network went down, but XYZ Company was here within an hour and had our system up and running quickly."
- "I really appreciated XYZ Company coming in over the weekend to maintain our computer systems. They never interfered with our routine, they just got the job done."
How can you get client testimonials?
It may seem obvious, but often we forget to ask. A customer that is pleased with your service may be very willing to provide a testimonial. You have to ask. If a customer sends a "thank you" email or makes a spontaneous comment about how valuable your service has been to their business, ask if you can quote them on your website or advertising. Most of your clients understand the value of testimonials and they will be glad to speak up for you, but you have to ask.
Second, make it easy for them. You know what you need in a testimonial. So, offer to make edits in their comments to focus the testimonial or add specifics and then send it to them for their approval. Use email or provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Be sure to get their permission-in writing-to use their name, business, and location.
If a client is willing to provide a testimonial, but is unsure of what to say; give them some samples of testimonials you have received. Or, ask specific questions. Ask for the kind of information you want to both improve your customer services and provide quotes for your testimonials. For example, ask them:
- What business problem prompted them to contact XYZ Company?
- What was their operation before they began working with XYZ and how is it better now?
- What was it like to work with XYZ?
- Was there a tangible benefit to working with XYZ- Save money? Save worry? Save time?
- Why did they choose XYZ?
- Was there an action or service from XYZ that especially surprised or delighted them?
Make request for testimonials personal. When asking for a testimonial, DO NOT send a form letter with fill-in-the-blank questions. Send a personal note to your contact, "Dear Sandra; XYZ Company values your business and we were glad that the solution to your (specific problem) was what you needed. As you know, testimonials from satisfied customers are very important to a small business. I would appreciate it if ..."
Time your request. In a business like IT and computer services, it may take some time for the customer to appreciate the value of your service to them. Select a time to ask for a testimonial when you have worked with them for a while or you know that your company has done something particularly useful and appreciated. That is the time to ask.
A final word of advice on getting testimonials: choose powerful phrases and short sentences. A good testimonial is no more than a paragraph. Once you have the content you need, make sure you document their permission to use their testimonial, their name, business and location on your website, flyers, or advertising.