Customer testimonials: Going beyond positive reviews

Testimonials push site visitors to learn more about your company, encourage on-the-fence customers to seal the deal, and make your company stand out in the mind of someone who may not need your product now, but will in the future. But a positive review doesn’t automatically work as a testimonial –  although both serve similar purposes, they are vastly different.

Positive Reviews vs Testimonials

Your average glowing review shows that your company is popular in your community, but usually lacks the details necessary to give proof that you’re capable of providing exactly what potential customers need. “I love shopping at X! I won’t go anywhere else!” tells readers that people like you, but it doesn’t tell them why.

A good testimonial has three primary characteristics:

  • Written in the customer’s own voice
  • Tells a story about the customer’s experience
  • Specifically discusses the product or service you provided

Because testimonials are more involved than a standard review, it’s nearly impossible to rely on customers to provide that level of detail unprompted. However, the initial positive reviews act as a solid jumping off point to requesting, and obtaining, more detail, proof-driven testimonials.

Comb Through Your Social Media Accounts

Your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts give you easy access to clients and customers, and both platforms encourage users to leave reviews. But how do you get people to talk about your business? Interact with them. People are more likely to share their positive feelings by adding endorsements and writing out reviews if they see you engaging with the public.

Manage Profiles on Review Sites

Yelp, TripAdvisor, and similar sites make it easy for businesses to set up a profile and watch the reviews flow in. You will open yourself up to criticism, but if you’re providing solid products and services, the good reviews will outweigh the bad and give you the chance to reach out to satisfied customers for testimonials. If you’re looking for a fast way to get set up, Site Booster makes it easy to manage your business profile across these sites.

Engage Your Customer Base

Once you have a selection of positive reviews, start contacting the reviewers and ask for more information on their experiences with your company.

The initial way you phrase the request dictates how the interaction will go – avoid using the word “survey”, asking for open-ended feedback, or outright requesting a positive testimonial. Instead, phrase the request along these lines: “We’re constantly working to better serve our customers, and we’re so thankful that you enjoyed XYZ and gave us that glowing review! If you have a few minutes, would you mind answering these three-to-five questions so we can continue to improve our services?”.

Then, craft leading questions that encourage customers to offer a fleshed out testimonial. The exact information you ask for will vary depending on the product or service you offer, but the following questions are good starting points.

  1. What made you choose our service?
  2. How did our product or service help you reach your goals?
  3. What can we do to improve our product or service so that it’s even more useful?
  4. Why would you recommend our product or service to others?
  5. Is there anything you’d like to add?

When requesting testimonials, it is important to give customers a way to note any dissatisfaction they may have had – this puts the customer at ease and gives you actionable data to improve your business.

Cast a Wide(r) Net

These same leading survey questions can also be sent out to customers and clients directly after a purchase or transaction, and used when customers click on the “tell us how we’re doing” button on your site or in your emails. Depending on your customer base, this tactic can result in a huge influx of data that may take as much time to sort through as simply contacting customers who’ve already left a positive review.

Turning Surveys into Testimonials

If you like what you hear back, respond to the customer as quickly as possible and ask to use their feedback in a testimonial. With the customer’s permission, whittle down the answers provided into a succinct yet powerful blurb for your website. Use the customer’s own words, save for fixing any grammatical errors, and be concise – just a few sentences will do, as long as they’re chosen strategically.

In the end, you’ll not only have plenty of testimonials, but you’ll also have a deeper understanding of who your customer is, which can help drive your other marketing pursuits as well as your business offerings.


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