That’s why social proof like customer testimonials are so important. In fact, customer testimonials and case studies are considered the most effective content marketing tactics.
You see them on all the best websites, but how do you actually collect customer testimonials?
Here, we have a 7-step method for collecting powerful customer testimonials. It’s easy to do yourself, and the resulting testimonials will convince even the most skeptical of prospects.
Why collect customer testimonials?
Alongside customer reviews, customer testimonials are one of the most under-utilized marketing techniques available to practically any business.
I’m always amazed when I see marketing professionals that have not bothered to do anything about collecting customer testimonials or attracting reviews. I previously founded a customer reviews website, and I can tell you that so many businesses confessed it was a real game-changer for them with many attributing more than 50% of their customer acquisition to customer reviews.
Of course, your own marketing messages are important, but what really makes an impact is what your customers say. Plus, customer testimonials can also help in other ways — e.g. SEO, staff appreciation, customer loyalty and more.
So how do you go about collecting strong customer testimonials? Luckily, it’s much easier than most people think…
7 Steps to collect customer testimonials
1 Phone your customer
There’s no need to overcomplicate things. Simply choose a customer that you think might be a good candidate and give them a call. Ask if they can talk for a few minutes. If they’re too busy now, make arrangements for a more suitable time to talk later.
It helps if you and your team can keep a list of customers that you believe are very happy with your business and you think might be good for a testimonial.
2 Gauge your customer’s feedback
Once you get your customer talking, ask how everything is going and whether they’re happy with the product or service your business has provided for them. (If you discover they’re not so happy, change the goal of this call and figure out what you and your team can do to make them happy!)If they tell you they’re happy, let them know that you’re looking for customer feedback. Click To Tweet
If they tell you they’re happy, let them know that you’re looking for customer feedback, and also potentially some quotes from customers to use in your marketing materials. (If this is a business customer, let them know that their participation would also be great exposure for them as you’d be highlighting their brand, and maybe linking to their site.)
Ask your customer if they’d be happy to be involved and spend a few minutes talking with you on the phone. Let them know that you could either do it now or arrange a more convenient time for later.
3 Conduct the customer testimonial interview
Once your customer has agreed to go ahead, thank them for being involved and assure them you won’t take too much of their time. Also, explain that you’ll ask them some questions and let them know you’ll be taking notes as you go. After the interview, you’ll write up a summary of what they’ve said and email it to them to see if it’s accurate.
Ok, so what do you actually ask them? Even though your goal is to get only one or two glorious sentences as the customer testimonial, it’s best to ask quite a few questions to help you capture their most powerful comments.
Use these questions to collect your customer testimonial;
- “Prior to using our business / purchasing our product, what was your situation like? What motivated you to purchase our product/service?”
- “What was it that convinced you to try our business?”, or
“Can you describe what your experience was like using our product/service?”
- “If you knew others in the same position as you, would you recommend our business? What would you say to other people/businesses?”
- “After using our product/service, what sort of results have you experienced?”
- “Can you give me some idea of the numbers around that? Even rough numbers can help a lot.” (Strongly encourage your customer to quantify their results, as these are often the most powerful statements. Think percentage improvements, time saved, cost savings, etc.)
- “What would you say has been the best thing about working with our company?”
- “Is there anything you would like us to change in the future?” (This question is more for your own customer insight purposes.)
As you go through the questions, make detailed notes and try to capture the actual words your customer says. Another option is to record the conversation – but if you do this, make sure you get their permission first.
Either way, after you finish your questions, let the customer know that you’ll write up your notes and condense their comments and then you’ll email them to make sure that you’ve got it right.
4 Write the customer testimonial
Read over your notes and find the juiciest phrases from your customer — these parts need to end up in your testimonial. Feel free to change the order of their comments and add context so that it makes sense. Even though you’re doing some re-writing, ensure it truly sounds like it’s their words, and not yours.Your customer testimonial should be no longer than 2 or 3 sentences. Click To Tweet
The testimonial doesn’t need to be 100% positive though. Don’t be afraid to include some aspects that could sound slightly negative – these parts make your testimonial sound much more believable. For example, a testimonial that starts with a hesitation is very strong;
“We were initially hesitant to start xxx as we’d had bad experiences elsewhere, but since starting, we haven’t looked back. XXX has totally changed the way we…”
Likewise, a testimonial that includes one of the negatives aspects of your business can also be very strong. For example;
“Although XXX is quite expensive, we are thrilled with our new xxx. We use it every day and constantly get comments from friends and neighbors.”
Or, as another example;
“I waited 3 weeks for an appointment but wow, it was worth it! Since then, I’ve been back every 6 weeks and I absolutely love….”
Your customer testimonial should be no longer than 2 or 3 sentences and depending on your situation, you may want it to be even shorter. When you’re collecting several testimonials, you should also make sure that they’re each quite different from each other – remember, each one should reflect the voice of that particular customer.
5 Get approval from your customer
Once you’re satisfied with your customer testimonial, you need to get approval from your customer. Again, don’t overthink this part! Just write them an email thanking them for their time and kind words. Explain that you’ve now paraphrased and condensed their comments, but you’re happy to change anything they like. Also let them know that you plan to use this in your marketing materials.
The copy for an actual email I’ve used successfully many times is as follows;
Hi <Customer Name>,
It was great to speak with you yesterday and I was so pleased to hear that everything is going well! I’ve now drafted up your comments and have included these below. Hopefully, I’ve captured the essence of what you said, but if you’d like anything changed, please just let me know (or make any edits below).
<Include your draft of the actual customer testimonial here. Make sure you include the customer name and/or business so that you can be sure you’ve got these details correct too.>
Once you’re happy with this, we’d like to promote it in our emails, website, Facebook page, and maybe other marketing collateral.
Thanks so much for your help with this – it’s very much appreciated!
All the best,
6 If possible, include a photograph
Depending on how you intend to use your testimonials, a photograph will add even more strength to your customer testimonial.
My suggestion is that you shouldn’t mention this until the end of the interview, as sometimes this can be a stumbling block. (Lots of people are quite shy about the idea of their photo being displayed, but once they’re part way through the process they’re more likely to concede!)
If you want a photograph, simply ask for this in the email above. (Or, you can offer to photograph the customer yourself.)
7 And voila! Your customer testimonial is ready
Once you receive a positive reply from your customer, that’s it! You now have a powerful customer testimonial!
Leverage your customer testimonials
With your testimonials in hand, now time to promote them and get them in front of as many prospective customers as possible. Consider including your customer testimonials in the following places;
- Scattered through your website — especially near call to action prompts. This is a great article with examples of how to put testimonials on your website.
- On the homepage of your website — front and center where no-one can miss it
- On the pricing or order page of your website
- In your quotations or sales proposals
- In your brochures or other printed marketing collateral
- On the back of your business cards
- As Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media posts (e.g. “just received these lovely words from a customer…”). Make them into an attractive image.
- In your email signature
- As part of your drip email sequence
- You can even print them up large or frame them and put them on your office walls
Another reason to collect customer testimonials
Customer testimonials definitely supercharge your marketing messages, but there’s another reason that you should collect them…. the feel-good factor for you! Whenever you’re feeling a bit demotivated (or downright negative!) about your business, read through your collection of customer testimonials and you’ll be sure to find some inspiration again!
Helping customers solve a problem is the main motivation for continuing to work on our businesses. Your testimonials can form part of a “brag book” or a folder on your computer where you keep all of your positive feedback. Read these over any time you doubt yourself or have forgotten why you’re in business!
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