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Out of the Mouths of Customers -- How to Obtain and Use Customer Testimonials

Jenny Bosworth -- Don't waste a sure-fire way to have your customers do your selling for you.

Before you rent or go to a movie, what do you do? You find out what others have said, whether those others be professional critics or average people who have seen the movie. Before you spend that seven dollars, you want to know what other people like you thought of the experience. Essentially, these movie criticisms and endorsements are testimonials.

It's natural for people to buy on a recommendation from another customer, rather than rely on a sales pitch to help them make their decision. That is why it's so important for you to obtain and use customer testimonials.

When you ask someone to give you a testimonial, you are asking their permission to do two things:

1. Lend their names to you for your own use.
2. Tell you about you.

Obtaining testimonials.

Testimonials should always be accompanied by the name of the customers who gave them. Otherwise, people assume that you are just tooting your own horn in the guise of a testimonial.

Testimonials work because they represent honesty, believability, and trust. Your customers are wary of trusting you, but they feel a connection with a previous customer who was in the same position as them. They will trust what the previous customer has to say because that customer had nothing to gain, whereas you, in selling yourself, hope to make money.

The first thing you have to know about testimonials is how to get them; how to motivate a customer to give you a smashing review. One of the best ways is to have customer comment cards made and position them where they can't be missed. You could even give them directly to the customer saying, "We are trying to get a feel for what our customers think of us. If you have a moment, we would appreciate your filling out this customer comment card."

Whether on your comment card or speaking directly to the customer, ask questions like:

-- Why did you decide to shop with us?

-- Did our products or service solve any existing problems you had?

-- Were your needs met sufficiently?

-- What words would you use to describe our products/services?

-- Will you return to us for future needs?

If you ask for a testimonial straight out, sometimes the customer will want you to write it for them. Use the answers they provide to questions like the above, and craft a testimonial that says basically the same thing. You can even write several and let the customer choose which one best represents their experience and attitude.

Now that you have your testimonial, you need to put it to work. Those positive statements aren't going to do any good just stored away in your brain -- except to pad your self-esteem.

Here are a few ways you can use testimonials:

1. Print the comments in your brochure. Be sure and design the brochure so that it places the testimonials in a spotlighted position. Often, all it takes to sell someone are great testimonials.

2. Put the comments on your stationery and send them out in any mailing or package carried. This is a more subtle technique, but it still gets those testimonials in front of potential customers.

3. Give testimonials their own page on your Web site. You'll be surprised how many people will visit that page before any other. Also, you can print testimonials in the middle of your sales copy to break it up, or place it along the sides of each page. That way, even if your site visitor doesn't go to the testimonial page, he/she can't miss them.

These are just a few of the ways you can put testimonials to work for you. Feel free to get creative and use them in whatever way will be effective for your particular business. But be sure and use them. Don't waste a sure-fire way to have your customers do your selling for you.

Jenny Bosworth writes promotional copy that sells. View more of her work at Dr. Nunley's, www.InternetWriters.com, where you can find a full range of services for business and professional speakers, including speech writing and editing, personal coaching, and presentation development. Reach her at jenny@drnunley.com or 888-429-6203.

© 2004 Dr. Nunley

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal or medical professional.