17 Aug What To Do With Testimonials?
When you run a business, reviews and recommendations can be make or break for success so it’s worth putting a little effort into gathering testimonials and understanding what to do with them.
The digital world has fuelled the rise of customers leaving reviews of products, services and brands which, in turn, has resulted in the upsurge of informational social influence – social proof. Consider how Trip Advisor influences decisions to book a holiday or visit a destination.
On the flip side it can be daunting for a business to receive a bad review. It may be completely out of their hands, a genuine mishap or a disgruntled customer who didn’t get their own way.
We all seek peer opinions on some level and the experience and information of others goes a long way to shape our own decisions.
Whatever the reason for a good, bad or indifferent review it is good business practice to seek them. If nothing else, to pay homage to Google’s transition as reviews now form a significant element to which its algorithm judges the credibility of a company.
The good old testimonial – are you writing them?
If you operate in a business to business (B2B) capacity you will want to build the habit of writing testimonials for your own suppliers and collaborators. A great example is if you attend regular networking meetings or are part of a referral marketing community. What goes around really does come around in this situation.
An easy way to form a habit for writing testimonials is to incorporate them into your business process. As an example, an invoice has to be raised upon completion of work. At this time, why not write a testimonial for the person you dealt with or the company, product or service.
Developing this mindset will make you more appreciative of the services provided by others and, in turn, will make you more aware of what constitutes a good or bad experience. This is the first step.
What to include in a recommendation?
Whilst putting paper to pen to tell someone they rock your world and that their skills or products are the best thing since sliced bread is great to hear, it’s not too conducive for potential customers.
Think about why you chose to work with this person or company. What factors made you purchase a product? Include detail about your overall experience:
- Was it easy to order?
- Did you deal with helpful and polite team members?
- What was the quality like?
- How did the cost compare to other similar products or services?
The list could be endless so choose two or three details that made a difference to you and that other people, considering the same decision as you, would find valuable. Be clear about what has been done for you.
It’s up to you whether to include personal details such as your name, location or company but bear in mind that if you do, they could be made public elsewhere.
Where can you leave a testimonial?
There are many places to leave a testimonial such as:
- A LinkedIn profile
- A Facebook business page
- Google My Business listing
- Trip Advisor
There will also be an abundance of industry specific websites or forums and community focused portals where you can leave feedback.
Let’s not go overboard, leaving a recommendation on a couple of platforms is more than enough. The company or person will be notified that you have left a testimonial and as many are published publically (although you can hide personal details) then it’s up to them to broadcast your words elsewhere.
And old-school still works – consider writing a testimonial on your own letterhead.
By leaving a testimonial you are also building your own credibility. There are many individuals who have quite an authority on review sites and forums because they regularly contribute personal experience. Think about whether this is a strategy that could offer benefits for you.
How can you gain testimonials?
This is the part to focus on. You and your business gaining trusted advisor, supplier or brand status.
Your customer journey should include the facility to receive or request testimonials. The end of every transaction is an opportunity to request a review. We’ve all received eBay and Amazon follow up emails requesting a rating and exactly the same principle applies.
Search engines favour independent reviews opposed to text representations on your website. If you are a product or volume sales business these systems are worth the investment.
If you attend networking events or conduct business face-to-face, every personal interaction is an opportunity to request a recommendation. Better still, why not gain a video testimonial in the moment? A few seconds to a minute is all that’s needed.
Once you have testimonials, share and share everywhere. Good service and products need to be known.
What to do with your testimonials
The one thing you shouldn’t do is nothing. Paper gathers dust and emails can be lost. If you have gained a recommendation that you need to action in order to make it public, do so.
If applicable, add written testimonials to a portfolio that you can share during prospect meetings or leave in the reception area and scan a copy to add it to your website.
A great tactic is to copy and paste recommendations to create a colourful graphic to share on social media. If reviews are visually represented on external sites or social media pages, take a screenshot for authenticity and add this to your content plan.
Thank the person giving the review profusely and subtly request that they add it to your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. Go one step further and send them a link to make it easy.
Creating case studies could benefit your business. People leaving testimonials can be great advocates so it’s worth asking them if they would be willing to be case study material.
Appreciate the recommendation
Always respond to online recommendations and thank the person. If they have skimped on detail ensure your reply fills in the blanks.
“No problem Jonny, it was a pleasure to work on the [name of company] website for you, it’s great to see a healthy increase in traffic already. We look forward to working with you in the future to help your website grow and develop.”
If a person is in the research stages of their buying decision, reviews help to form an opinion. If your business has 50 testimonials compared to your competitors who have twelve and thirty, who do you think they are going to trust?
What to do with a negative review
If you do receive a negative review, please respond amicably. Never apologise directly because you may not be in error and often, the full story is missing. Respond within a reasonable timeframe so potential customers see this as a positive trait. You are not hiding your head in the sand, hoping the situation will disappear.
Comments may need to be escalated to a senior level but the simple act of acknowledgement and empathy goes a long way. In many cases, a bad situation handled well results in a more loyal customer.
Build regular testimonials into your weekly routine
It’s important for a business to be seen as credible and for prospects to read unbiased opinions about a product or service.
It’s also important that staff are praised for the part they play. Make them aware of positive reviews, especially if mentioned.
To recap, make testimonials part of your business processes – here’s what to do:
- Give testimonials yourself
- Enable features that allow customers to leave reviews
- Request recommendations from suppliers, collaborators and customers
- Share reviews received in your emails, social media content, on your website and all online platforms
It’ll be worth it as you see social proof form and word of mouth recommendations come your way.
If you want to discuss implementing an automated system to collect recommendations on your website, please contact us for an inspiring journey and send an email today and signup for our monthly email with hints and tips for growing your website here.