You have just completed a major sale for one of your best customers, and they’re not just satisfied with you, your company, your products and your services – they’re ecstatic. So pleased they are with your firm that they’re singing your praises to everyone in their immediate circle, which will undoubtedly heighten awareness and even bring you new business. But wait! Before you move on and file experience as a job well done, there’s more you can do to spread your hard-earned goodwill around to a much larger audience, and you must act quickly before that “warm and fuzzy” feeling cools down. Writing and publicizing an effective customer testimonial or success story will not only help you sell more products and services, it will also enhance your reputation and strengthen your brand awareness and appeal.
Customer testimonials are perhaps one of most adaptable marketing tools a company has in its promotions arsenal. If you write them correctly and effectively you can post them on your website, turn them into sell sheets, include them as references when bidding on new projects, and publish highlights from them in your company’s brochures and other promotional literature. Another bonus to producing a strong testimonial is its extended shelf life – words of satisfaction and praise can last for months, even years.
The trick to writing an effective customer success story is to tell an engaging story that will hook your new and potential customers and keep them reading until very end. You must answer all-important question that’s on mind of every single one of your customers: “What’s in it for me?” A good testimonial will not only answer that question in three-dimensional detail, it will also help your new and potential customers relate to your existing customers in a much more personal way through an exchange of shared ideas about your products and services. Whereas paid advertisements are broadcast to a wider audience that includes your target customers, testimonials are personalized stories that speak directly to your customers, enabling them to visualize benefits of owning your products or benefiting from your services through a story told by someone with whom they can relate and share similar experiences.
INCOMPAS can assist you in writing and producing your own effective testimonials, or we can edit your existing customer success stories and offer constructive feedback on how you can strengthen them to better showcase your company. To get you started, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to assist you in producing a winning testimonial.
Step-by-Step Plan for Stellar Customer Testimonials
1. Seek Permission. Before you do anything else, request approval from your customer to develop and publish a testimonial based on their recent experience with you – as soon as possible after deal is final and while experience remains fresh in everyone’s mind. Your customer will be far more open to this idea if you explain to them that their organization will receive additional exposure through publication and distribution of testimonial; you can also assure your customer that they will have ample opportunity to review finished article and make whatever changes they feel are necessary before you post it on your website or otherwise broadcast article. 2. Conduct a Professional Interview. Many companies have realized advantages of arranging for a separate interview with your customer to be conducted by someone outside your company. This independent approach will enable your customer to answer any questions candidly without feeling unduly pressured to overdo their praise or gloss over important details. Remember, a good testimonial mirrors real life: even best customer experiences include unforeseen challenges that must be solved in course of doing business. Your testimonial will ring much truer if it contains honest comments from your customers about how you dealt with any problems that arose during delivery of your company’s goods and services. The person conducting interview must be professional in both appearance and conduct; he or she must also be familiar with your company and your products and services, and also with your customer’s business. Your interviewer should not only pose questions about quality of products and level of customer service that they enjoyed from your company, he or she should also ask questions about any problems or glitches that arose and required resolution. Even if you don’t use these anecdotes in your finished testimonial, honest feedback from your customer can only help improve quality of your products and services in future.
3. Record and Transcribe Interview. It is essential to capture your customer’s exact words – not your interpretation of what you think they intended. Like it or not, we all process incoming information through our own personal filters, and our own biases from our past experiences can alter speaker’s intended meaning. Besides, few of us know shorthand, and your interviewer will be spending more time taking notes than really listening to your customer and responding to their feedback. Keep these transcribed interviews on file and refer to them often when developing future marketing pieces. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll be able to use from a strong interview. Remember though, every time you quote one of your customers in a new marketing piece other than one you first developed after seeking initial permission, you must once again approach your customer and ask for permission to quote them, and be prepared to show them how their anecdote will be used and presented.