This is part 1 of a series of 3 blog posts – all about testimonials for your business!
For any business, testimonials from customers are a very powerful tool and great source of insightful information.
Not only do customer testimonials provides you with an understanding into what you are doing well and where you need to make improvements in your business, they can also help you get other customers over the line, to either purchase from your business or engage in your services.
Testimonials provide an excellent source of credibility to your business by having someone else refer, review or comment about your business. It provides validation and influence to potential customers.
I get asked a lot by clients how do they get testimonials from their customers. I have also been actively sourcing testimonials for clients and adding them to their websites and other marketing activities, where they hadn’t even thought of it at all.
I also saw my friend the lovely Maureen from Moxie Creek, ask about testimonials in a Facebook group recently, so I thought I would share with you my tips and ideas in no particular order, about ways to source customer testimonials or reviews for your business.
1. Social media
Now a lot of businesses use their social media accounts and pages to collect testimonials or reviews. However be warned! Social media has good points and bad points as we all know. The bad is it is a third party platform, which you have no control over. I am going to discuss the two main platforms people use to leave reviews.
To collect testimonials you must have your page set up with a street address. Then people are able to leave a review with a rating star out of five.
This is great when you get lots of fantastic reviews. However if you get a negative review you can reply to it however you cannot get it removed. You cannot also edit any reviews for example if someone uses unfavourable language which is not inline with your business image you cannot change that review.
The only way to delete a review is to take off your address for your business in the settings, and then all of the reviews will be deleted. Facebook has daily updates so some of these points may already need updating and how you can change your page settings may also change in the future.
Now this is a fun one, not! I have seen this go pear shape very quickly for a client. With a business that has a shop front therefore street address when you set up the business page you verify it, which means then people can add reviews to your business via Google+. If you don’t add an address like my business page you still verify it however people cannot leave reviews on your business page.
With a Google business page you have no control whatsoever over any reviews left for your business. I know as I have gone down the legal path for a client with no success. So this means trolls or competitors can leave a negative review on your business that are most likely not even a customer of your business and you have no control over this.
So how we are getting around this is, and Google has some good guidelines for replying to reviews, is replying with facts to every comment. So comments like ‘as you are not a customer of ours, we are unable to contact you to discuss this matter’ is a good professional reply. It also shows to other potential customers that that person is not even a customer and most likely a troll etc.
However, with all Google business reviews they also give you a star rating out of five so if you get a one star rating from a troll review you cannot do anything about it and it will change your average rating score! That is the main issue of Google business reviews.
When I spoke to Google (yes I managed to finally talk to someone at Google!) they said they were changing their guidelines with reviews however I am yet to see any changes so far, and that was a few months ago now. For all reviews you get on your Google business page a good practice is to always reply very promptly and professionally and state the facts if it is a disgruntle client who is just having a bad day!
2. Feedback form – word document / paper
Feedback forms are another way to get testimonials from clients.
You can either email a client a form as a word document after you complete a job as part of your follow up procedure or exit process when you complete jobs, or provide the customer with a form if you are onsite with them. However the issue with this is that emails go to junk boxes, they get forgotten, paper forms get lost, people don’t have time to fill them in, print it, scan it and email it to you, let alone post it back to you, or you have to keep following up. You may get the odd one or two that send them back to you, however the likelihood you won’t get many back is high.
A simple way to get a testimonial from a customer is to just email them requesting a testimonial. Sometimes this can be a little daunting asking customers straight out for a testimonial, it can work though probably the response rate will likely be low – your email may end up in the junk box or they simply forget to get back to you.
Prompting clients with questions in a form is quicker and easier for them to provide you with a testimonial and increase the likelihood of them actually providing you with one.
4. Website - online forms
So this takes your standard word or paper form to an online format on your website – yeah! This of course is one of my favourite and ideal methods.
This method provides your customer with a quick way to complete the form, which increases the chance of them actually filling it out and in full. It also moves your business into the 21st Century. It is a fast method for you or your admin team to be notified when a form has been completed, then collect and use the information from the completed form.
For this method you will need your clever website person to set this up for you. This can be set up as a private page that you can direct your customers to via a link in an email or a call to action feature on your website I have seen also works.
5. CRM systems – online forms
Another one of my top favourite methods, and my preferred method for my business and one I recommend for you to explore for your business.
If you use a clever CRM (customer relationship management) system like I do (another blog post topic!), you can set up an online form via your CRM system then embed the form into your website (or your clever website go to person can) or you can set up a testimonial form in the customer’s online client portal.
It is different than some forms on websites as the CRM system provides you with more powerful backend features including automation. In a good CRM system you can set up an automatic email and workflow as you like where information and forms to go out to the customer, for example send out the link to fill out the form within your workflows, an email to thank them when they complete the form, and you also get notice when the forms get completed. There are also good backend features of storing the information and downloading forms, keeping all of your information organised, in one place, and secure.
6. Surveys – online forms
Online survey platforms like Survey Monkey is a good way to develop a simple form for free and send the link in an email to customers. This is a good way to do an online form if you are unable to put a form on your website or don’t have an option where you can set up a form via your CRM system.
7. Phone calls
You could hit the phone and call your past customers to get a testimonial over the phone.
However you may get your customer when they are busy, you put them on the spot and they can’t give you a testimonial right there and now, they can’t remember you, or you may just feel uncomfortable by ringing customers and asking them.
8. Marketing agency
This idea has actually come from one of my clients who asked me to do this request for his business!
You have a marketing agency who does the leg work for you. You just provide a list of customers to your marketing agency and they source the testimonials for you via phone calls and their systems. This is a great method as you have someone else doing it for you and you can go on your merry way doing what you do best - your business!
Well I hope that has given you some ideas to start collecting testimonials for your business.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post as I am going to share with you my 5 secrets about when to source testimonials from your clients!
This blog post is part of a series of three blog posts about testimonials for business, so make sure you check out the other blog two posts as part of this series!
About the Author
Hillary is a proficient strategic marketing professional with over 20 years business and marketing management experience in both government and private enterprise.
Hillary’s extensive career is supported with way too many years studying business and marketing at Uni, including a MBA from the University of Queensland. Hillary is genuinely passionate about helping small to medium size businesses.
When she is not working on client projects you will find her out exercising with her beautiful dog, in the garden, or off on a camping adventure!