Interviewing Your Customers: The Power of the Story

If you are waiting in vain for your customers to provide a testimonial or thank you letter, you might want to try interviewing them instead. 

Unlike a customer-written testimonial or letter, an interview offers several advantages. You can clarify what the customer means by a comment and ask for the details that set their experience and your company apart from the competition. While it is nice to hear “great job!”, details make a more compelling testimonial, one that inspires potential customers to call you.

With an interview, you gain enough insight to write a success story that captures the attention of customers who recognize themselves in the story. Few marketing tools are as powerful as a good story. If you listen closely to what the customer is saying (instead of focusing on what you want the customer to say), you may gain a new perspective on the value of your products and services.

As a professional writer, research and interviewer, I enjoy interviewing my client’s customers. A freelance interviewer has the freedom to ask questions that a company owner or employee can’t ask or hasn’t considered. Customers feel more relaxed about offering feedback. In one case, a customer’s comments led to an entire new marketing area for a company, which hadn’t realized all the benefits their product brought to that customer. In another case, a customer’s comments enabled a company to address the customer’s concerns before the customer wrote a poor review.

In 20 minutes with a professional interviewer, a customer will provide strong testimonials that can be used online and in print in websites, blogs, brochures, articles, success stories and press releases. I have been interviewing customers for large and small companies for more than 15 years. Contact me today to add the power of the story to your marketing plan.


What Makes a Great Testimonial?

In a previous blog, I offered some advice on asking for testimonials. But testimonials should succeed in quality as well as quantity. What makes for a great testimonial?

First, the testimonial is specific. Thirty “you are wonderful” quotes are less impressive than one quote that says “I am thrilled with my completed kitchen and found the whole experience much easier than I expected. Your crew was always on time, respectful of my house and attentive to what I wanted most in a kitchen….”

Second, the testimonial is timely. If your website still shows the same three customer quotes from ten years ago, believe me, they’ve lost their impact.

Third, the testimonial is in standard English. Sometimes when people email or write a thank you, they are rushed and not careful about spelling or grammar. It is okay (in fact, it is a gift to the customer) to fix minor problems with spelling and grammar. But never ever change the meaning or the intent.

Fourth, each testimonial is carefully chosen. You want testimonials that accurately reflect where you are and where you want to be as a business. Great testimonials speak to the core of your business and help differentiate you.

Great testimonials might appear in print or in video but they all have the characteristics listed above, especially the first. If your customers never write thank you’s or their testimonials fail to meet the criteria above, consider interviewing them for a success story. In the context of a story, even a less than perfect quote can shine. Contact TWP today; we know how to generate testimonials and success stories that do full service for your company.