Four Truths about Testimonials

The first truth about testimonials is that one great testimonial from a customer is worth 10,000 of your own words. You can tell people and tell them about your fantastic products and services; but a single testimonial has the power to convince them.

The second truth about testimonials is that great testimonials (specific, accurate, positive, believable) don’t simply fall into your lap. You must ask for them, and sometimes you have to interview people to elicit great testimonials. A dozen “great jobs!” have less pizzazz than one testimonial that describes exactly what you did to cause that enthusiastic response and why your company turned out to be the perfect choice.

The third truth is that no one speaks or writes grammatical and clear English all the time. You owe it to the people who give you testimonials to make sure that they come across as well as you do. Before you post their testimonial, fix any small grammatical or spelling problems. If they said or wrote something that makes no sense, either leave it out or ask their approval for an alternative. You should never change a testimonial except to fix mistakes in grammar, spelling or logic; but you should fix the mistakes.

The fourth truth is that testimonials have more than one use. They might expand into a case study or a white paper. They add sparkle to brochures as well as websites. They may inspire a blog post. Let great testimonials work for you and work hard.

In one of my earlier blog posts, I described how to elicit testimonials from customers and explained that some customers may feel inhibited about speaking to a business owner directly. Also some business owners may feel reluctant to ask for praise. Shyness on either side prevents great testimonials from happening. TWP Marketing & Technical Communications has helped companies in service, construction, manufacturing, IT and many other industries ask for and receive the great testimonials they deserve. Contact us today.

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.


Testimonials from Customers: Three Ways to Get Great Ones

We would all like raves from our customers that we can post online or in print, but generally happy customers are silent customers. Thank you notes are wonderful but often vague and inaccurate–the client is grateful for what we did but not exactly sure what that was. Here are three ways to solicit testimonials that do you and your business credit:

(a) Let customers know upfront, before the project starts, that you’ll be asking for their feedback after the project because you are always looking to solidify and improve upon the great relationship you have with your customers. If you send out a post-project survey, make sure that the survey is short (5-10 questions at most), that you briefly ask for whatever customer data is most important to you (title of responder, location of company, contact email, years in business), that the majority of questions are multiple choice and that you include one spot where customers can write whatever they want.

(b) Ask for a testimonial (phoning is better than emailing). Remind the client what you did. Let them know you intend to quote the testimonial in your marketing material. Offer anonymity if that’s essential; however, try to at least associate the testimonial with the person’s position and industry and/or location (for example, “vice-president of marketing for a New Hampshire nonprofit” or “owner of a construction company in Portsmouth”). The more specific, the better. If you don’t receive a response to your request in two weeks, offer to draft a testimonial that the customer can edit in any way they please. Make the testimonial short–three or four sentences–and avoid generalities like “superior customer service.” Give details.

(c) Hire someone outside the company to interview your customers about their experiences. An outsider is more likely to obtain honest answers to questions such as, “Now that you’ve finished this project, what would you do differently next time?” or “Were you surprised by anything the company did?” Often, the difficult questions produce the most complimentary answers.

You may find that your testimonials can be worked into a strong success story. In fact, the reverse is also true: success stories are an excellent way to generate quotes in addition to those included in the story.

If you dread asking customers for testimonials or if you find you aren’t receiving any feedback more substantial than “great job,” contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. We work with companies just like yours throughout the Monadnock Region and far beyond.