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4. Tell an Engaging Story. With every sentence, ask yourself brutal questions, such as ‘Who cares?’ ‘So What?’ and ‘What’s in it for my customer?’ If you can’t answer “who cares” question sufficiently, then chances are few people will actually care about experience you’re sharing and they won’t read your testimonial through to end. Also, make sure story is believable and relatable to your new and potential customers. Part of what makes a story good is drama that unfolds during an experience and seeing how people react to unforeseen events. Using humour in appropriate places is another technique to keep your readers/customers engaged. People like to laugh, especially when they can relate to a funny situation with a positive resolution. And of course, tell truth. If you fabricate a testimonial someone may eventually figure it out and you could risk losing your company’s hard-earned credibility in process. Do work to create happy customers and then ask them to speak your praises for you, truthfully and in their own words.
5. Edit and Proofread Your Work. It’s amazing how much credibility a company loses by publishing spelling mistakes, sentence fragments or otherwise poorly written documents. When you are finished writing your customer success story, ask other people in your organization to proofread it and provide feedback on content. Ask them pointed questions, such as whether or not piece holds their interest, if it positively answers “Who Cares?” question, or if it effectively promotes benefits of your product or service’s features. Be prepared to receive constructive criticism; remember, everyone has an opinion, and you’ll likely get more feedback than you expected.
6. Highlight Benefits. Instead of focusing on features of your products and services, concentrate on discussing benefits that your product or service brings to your customer. Who besides you really cares if your widget has a new and improved wingding – real question is how does that wingding – or widget for that matter – improve your customer’s experience? This is a prime opportunity to use a strong quote product or service endorsement quote from your interview. Use your customer’s words to explain why your product or service has helped them save time or money, how it’s helped them generate higher revenue, or how it has helped them feel better in some way.
7. Spread News. Once you and your customer are happy with your testimonial, don’t hesitate to post it on your website, print copies to include in your media kits and with existing sales and marketing literature, and e-mail testimonial to as many people as you can think of. Repackage testimonial into a press release and distribute it to local, national and international media (don’t forget to include your newsworthy “Who Cares?” hook). The more time you take spreading happy customer’s story of your company and more people who read testimonial, more consumer trust you will generate and more business you will receive in end. Remember, good news travels fast, especially if you’re one spreading it. Use excerpts from testimonial wherever you see an opportunity to give you additional mileage from positive endorsement.
8. Preserve Praise. Every time you receive an unsolicited compliment from one of your customers, jot it down, along with a brief description of encounter. You will be amazed at how many positive comments you receive when you take time to collect them. Aside from being quite loyal, happy customers are typically generous with their praise, but most people don’t take time to write you a personal letter of thanks or congratulations; they’ll typically mention their pleasure as an aside during a conversation covering a different topic. Treat every word of praise that you receive from your customers as gold. Not only can you use kudos to help you sell your products and services more effectively, you will also be giving yourself and your team a positive morale boost by focusing on and highlighting good work that you do.
9. Vary Your Testimonials. Don’t expect one customer success story to function as ultimate word on your company’s quality. Now that you’ve completed one success story, get started as soon as possible on another, and focus topic on a different product or service. Focused, targeted testimonials are most effective, so avoid broad, sweeping comments and instead concentrate on highlighting different products or services, or even different aspects of same product or service. For example, a quote that says, “I appreciated your exceptional service” really doesn’t compel anyone into any sort of action, but a quote that says, “Your delivery of 9,000 widgets to our Houston branch in less than 12 hours was nothing short of amazing” says that you can deliver products directly to customers when they need them. Develop as many stories as you can and vary topics so that you can address all members of your target audience. You might be required to solicit positive comments from some customers if you don’t receive them spontaneously, such as sending them post cards or feedback request forms soliciting their feedback about certain aspects of your products or services.
10. Thank Your Customers. If one of your customers has taken time out of his or her busy day to comment on quality of your products and services, make sure that you share results of your finished testimonial and show your appreciation for your customer’s effort after testimonial has been produced and distributed.
Mel-Lynda Andersen is a Communications Strategist and a principal of INCOMPAS Communications. INCOMPAS offers strategic, innovative approaches to communications and marketing initiatives to a broad spectrum of private and public sector organizations from initial concept and abstract idea through to completion. Subscribe to INCOMPAS’s newsletter, eNEWS, for more original articles. Copyright © INCOMPAS Communications. www.incompas.com