Nothing adds credibility to your business like a well-crafted client testimonial. For someone coming across your business for the first time, an enthusiastic third-party endorsement instantly conveys the message that your product or service is valuable and worth checking out.
There’s an art to gathering and using these testimonials for maximum effect. The starting point, of course, is to always exceed your clients’ expectations. Going above and beyond should be built into your value proposition. When you’re good at it, you should have no trouble garnering passionate testimonials.
Who to Approach
Begin by identifying your best clients, particularly ones with whom you hope to have a long-term relationship. Also make sure the story they have to tell about their client experience is meaningful and dramatic. Whenever possible, approach key “influencers”—people and businesses with high name recognition who are likely to impress prospective clients in your target markets.
How to Get the Testimonials
After identifying potential interview subjects, request permission to share their experience with others. (How you approach them—in person, over the phone, via email—depends on a lot on the nature of your relationship.) If the interview subject is hesitant, it’s best to move on to someone else. You want to engage someone who’s willing or even eager to let people know about their experience with you.
Schedule a brief interview session (no more than 15-20 minutes) and get some prep time in beforehand. You should come equipped with a list of questions—see below—but also be prepared to let your clients digress and bring up ideas on their own. In many cases, it’s wisest to use a small digital recorder, so you’re not preoccupied with taking notes during the interview. Ideally, the conversation should be as relaxed and informal as possible.
Many people need a bit of gentle prodding to get past generic statements like, “You offer great service.” Be ready to ask follow-up questions that get beneath the surface. The responses you generate will likely form the core of your final testimonial.
What to Ask
Every question you ask should revolve around one basic premise: What was the problem your client faced and how did your product or service provide the solution? Other related questions include:
- What was your situation before you first contacted us?
- What was it like working with our business?
- Were you initially skeptical about what we had to offer? If so, what turned things around?
- How did our product/service improve your own operations? (This is where you want specific answers, i.e., “sales improved by 14% over the next six months.”)
- What would you say to others who are considering our business?
It’s OK as well to ask how people felt about the overall experience. Capturing a satisfied client’s emotions adds a human touch to the testimonial.
In our next article, we’ll talk about what to do once your interview is concluded and you’ve got the raw materials for a great client testimonial.
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