The manager of a small retailer that I frequent complained today that her attempts to get clients to provide testimonials was not going well. Like most business owners, when tasked with securing testimonials, she had sent out a broad inquiry to her customer base asking for generic responses. The intent here was great but the tactic was doomed.
For most businesses a well-prepared customer testimonial can be their greatest marketing tool. In many cases I encourage clients who come to me seeking assistance with their first brochure to consider creating a customer testmonial (or case study) instead. Often they seem bewildered but the fog quickly wears off once I get through explaining how most brochures simply tell your audience WHAT you do while case studies and customer testimonials demonstrate HOW your products or services made someone else successful!
Now there are those few organizations who seek and obtain “reference letters” after the fact. But have you read most of these? Typically what you get sounds something like this:
“Thank you for your help. The service was great. We could never have done it without Suzy’s (fill in the name of sales or support person here) help.”
While this is certainly a positive response it does nothing to communicate to future prospects what you do or how what you do helped that customer.
So how do you persuade clients to contribute meaningful feedback that you can use to close your next sale? Careful planning. I use a formal interview process, conducted via phone, to capture customer feedback and their story. You might send out your interview via email but in my experience customers spend too much time trying to wordsmith their response. A phone interview captures emotion that you will never get via email. Does this take a little more time? Absolutely, but the results can be well worth it.