How to Gather Fabulous Testimonials About Your Work Without Feeling Uncomfortable

It feels great, doesn’t it?

To be commended for the great work you do is one of the best feelings. There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve truly made a difference in someone’s life or business and have helped them reach a new level of success.

Even better than your personal feelings is the fact that receiving positive feedback from your clients creates social proof for prospective clients. This is one of the reasons websites like YELP are so popular. Like it or not, the folks who are considering hiring you are going to details about what it’s like to work with you.

Most professionals I know don’t feel comfortable flat out asking for feedback and a testimonial. Perhaps that is true of you. If so, you’ll be happy to know you can easily circumvent any uncomfortable feelings by having a system in place to regularly collect testimonials from your clients.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Do GREAT work – This may seem completely obvious, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. To get happy, satisfied clients, you have to do what you promised, when you promised, to the best of your ability. Don’t make excuses. Meet your deadlines and look for ways to add value. This will create a fabulous experience for your clients and build your confidence in your ability to deliver great service. 
2. Determine when it’s best to solicit feedback – When you ask your clients for their feedback often depends on what type of service you have and how you deliver your offerings. Perhaps it’s best to ask after a particular milestone has been reached. Maybe it’s mid-way through the engagement. Or you might get the most comprehensive response at the end of your project. Consider the results your clients are looking for when they first begin working with you. As soon as they start achieving their goals, you want to ask for their feedback. 
3. Build the request into your process – This is how you circumvent any uneasy feelings about asking for feedback. Keep in mind, the only way you can improve your business is to truly listen to what people like and don’t like about their interaction with you. So make asking for their feedback a part of your work together. You can easily solicit a testimonial (and/or constructive feedback) by asking, “How is this working for you?” “Is this what you expected?” Once you ask the question, LISTEN! Don’t get defensive or nervous. Just listen. Try not to take any constructive criticism personally. Appreciate that the person was honest enough to tell you their true feelings. Celebrate what they enjoy and adjust what they don’t. 
4. Take it one step further – Once your client gives you their initial feedback, say thank you! Assuming their feedback is mostly positive, ask if you can take 5 minutes to ask them a few additional questions. You can either conduct this interview yourself or have someone on your team do it for you. (I’ve often found that clients feel more comfortable talking about me to someone else.) You want to ask them just three simple questions: 1) What prompted you to reach out for help in the first place? 2) How would you describe the experience in working with me? 3) What specific benefits and results have you enjoyed as a result of our work together? Ideally you want to record this interview so you can use their EXACT language. 
5. Get their approval to use their comments – Thank them again for their feedback and ask if it’s ok for you to use their comments in your marketing materials. 99.9% of the time they will say yes. As appropriate, ask for their permission to use their name and a photo of them along with their comments. Then compile your notes and voila! You have a fabulous new success story to showcase in all of your marketing materials.

The key to being successful with this is to do it consistently. Occasionally you may get a client who wasn’t blown away by working with you. That happens to everyone, so don’t take it personally. Use that experience as an opportunity to grow and improve your offerings. At the same time, take EVERY opportunity to solicit feedback from your clients and leverage that positive feedback to generate testimonials for your business.

The next time someone says to you, “I really appreciate XYZ about working with you,” follow the aforementioned steps and use that to create more social proof for the solutions you offer.

Want help crafting a simple marketing system that helps you get GREAT results in your business? Schedule your private “Profit Breakthrough” session NOW.

Comments

  1. Sydni:

    Great article. Having relative and appropriate testimonials on your website and social media sites is a must. I love your Step #4…this is So helpful.

    Thanks.

  2. Jeremy Sherwood says:

    I like to make it part of the agreement in the beginning. I found I had much better success if I planted the seed early on that I was expecting a testimonial. Most times I didn’t even have to ask after the job was done, they just did it. Plus I made it easy for them to do so by putting a button on my website that said ‘Post a testimonial’.

    At the time of the sale I would ask all my prospects to be prepared to write a testimonial if, after the job was finished, they felt that my company had earned it.

    Because I depended so much on testimonials I wanted a lot of them and it was just one extra driver for us to do our best work for all our customers.

    To answer your question directly, I do find it uncomfortable to ask ourtright for a testimonial. But if you set it up early and plant the seed then you will be surprised how many testimonials you get. Provided it is deserved.

    • Thanks for this thoughtful comment Jeremy! I love that you have created your own system for collecting robust testimonials. That’s really the key. Implementing a simple system that allows you to gather consistent feedback. I’m so glad this is working so well for you!

      Best,
      Sydni

      • Jeremy Sherwood says:

        Sydni, I struggled for years trying to figure out how to get testimonials and this was just so much easier. Your absolutely right when you say “implementing a system”. When it just becomes a normal part of your program you can start getting consistency rather than hit and miss. Plus, having a very large stack of testimonials to show prospects can help far more to build trust and confidence than anything I say as the salesperson.

  3. Dennis Leavitt, Jr. says:

    What “phrase” or wording do find works best Sydni and/or Jeremy?

  4. Dennis Leavitt, Jr. says:

    For getting testimonials, and WHEN should you ask for them?

    • Jeremy Sherwood says:

      Dennis,

      If the customer I was speaking with mentioned that reading our testimonials was one of he reasons they are choosing us then I say something to the effect of:

      “Do you remember how you told me that reading our testimonials was one thing that gave you the motivation to call us? Well, it so happens that those are one of our best tools in gaining new business and I would like to have hope that whatever your experience is with us that you will share it. If you feel the work we did is deserving of praise, please give us praise. If you feel the work we did is deserving of criticism, please criticize for it is the best way for us to know we need to improve. That said, I don’t like criticism and will work just as hard for a good testimonial from you as I did for all of the others and when we are all finished with the project I will send you an email requesting your feedback. Fair enough?

      Sometimes, it could be as simple as “Guys, we are going to work very hard to make sure you are ecstatic when we are done. And if we do, we would love to know just how you feel. Can I send you an email linking you to our testimonial submission page when we are all done?

      I always did this at the time of doing the paperwork. When the project was completed and the final balance paid, I sent an email thanking them for the opportunity to work for them and a link to a page on my website where they could fill the form to submit a testimonial. Easy peezy.

  5. Many of my clients hire me to interview customers for testimonials and success stories (success stories produce bunches of testimonials in addition to those that appear in the story). The advantage of this is two-fold: (a) I can take the time to dig deeper, so that the statement from the customer isn’t just a generic “great job.” and (b) I can ask the hard questions; you’d be surprised at the wonderful testimonials that follow a question like “what could the company have done better?” or “knowing what you know now about the project, what would you tell someone else?” Because I’m a third party, customers open up in a way they might not to the business owner directly.

    • GREAT points Sharon! I completely agree. I have someone on my team do brief interviews to collect testimonials as well and we get excellent feedback as a result. I highly recommend requesting feedback exactly as you describe.

  6. So that’s how it’s done!

    Thank you for the post Sydni. As a freelancer, I’ve been notoriously bad at collecting testimonials. Now that I’m formalising my services business that’s going to change.

    I love the idea of putting proper feedback systems into place and and interviewing clients. Great stuff.

  7. Sydni: I find no fault with the process you propose. No doubt it works. I advise my clients differently, though.

    My approach: Do not ask for testimonials, ever. Listen for them. When repeating a testimonial back to the provider (either quoted verbatim or faithfully paraphrased) ask for permission to quote her/him.

    “You said something wonderful to me the last time we met. It was something like, “…” May I please quote you as saying that?”

    The approach I propose often helps to deepen the sentiments of testimonial provider as well as the relationship. If often also yields additional testimonials at the permission stage. Then, such testimonials – authentic key messages – help to attract more good business relationships when communicated via website or other medium.

    • Thanks for the note Glenn! I appreciate your input and often use that methodology myself. I find that many business owners don’t hear “testimonials” when they’re given by a client because they aren’t really listening for them.

      So I appreciate you reminding us to listen for feedback and then to follow up accordingly.

  8. I agree with Glenn. When you do it that way it seems more natural and more personal. I take the same approach.

    When servicing the client i am very attentive to not only their needs but what i did in the past that brought the most value to them. That value that i gave becomes the testimonial that i can use.

    I believe the more you give value the more testimonials you will hear regardless. Even though i like to use this approach i think all the approaches on this discussion are great!

    • I appreciate your comments Antjuan and love that focus on how to add value for your clients. That’s what being in business is really about – making someone’s life easier in with whatever solution you have to offer.

      I wholeheartedly agree that the more value you give the more testimonials you will naturally attract. We’re definitely on the same page. 🙂

  9. Thanks for a great discussion and an excellent article Sydni. It’s great to see how you all, business owners, care about your customers and value their feedback!

    My question is how do you promote these great success stories? Do you use it as a marketing material or just leave testimonials on your website?

    I work in a online testimonial management software startup Feedback Loop (feedbackloop.com.au) and we make it easy for businesses to collect, manage and promote credible testimonials:

    a) Our widget can be added on any business website just in 2 min
    b) Your customers can verify their identities through LinkedIn or Facebook profiles so we automatically capture their details (as Sydni mentioned – name, title, company name, location etc) and let people see who exactly wrote those testimonials
    c) Social sharing option allows every testimonial to be shared on social media channels so word-of-mouth marketing becomes easy.

    If you wanted to hear more, just get in touch with me – I’d love to help your businesses.

    • Hi Julius and Sydni, An online testimonial might be great for hotel chains, restaurants and other organizations that serve many many people short-term but is it worthwhile for a small business that is built on lasting one-to-one relationships? Frankly, also, I think text works best for gathering testimonials. As a customer myself, I don’t have time to sit through even one video but I will scan text quickly for what I want to learn.

  10. This has been a great discussion. Even thought I know better I haven’t been asking for testimonials. You all have inspired me to get moving on that and build a system for it!

  11. Good post Sydni.

    I get great traction by confirming every appointment I have, by sms text and a link to my ‘Testimonials ‘ page. This page has a mix of written and video testimonials.

    Where possible I get approval to include the phone number of those giving their testimonials. Credibility!

    It’s among the top 3 pages visited on my site!

    Check it out here :
    http://www.missingpiecemarketing.com.au/testimonials

    Regards
    Paul

    • Paul, I looked into your testimonials page. Great work building credibility! However, I think they could be improved in few ways. First of all, the information is not displayed very efficiently making it hard to read. It takes time to go through the testimonials to get the essence of what people say. Also I don’t know if these are recent customers or if you worked with them 5 years ago.

      What do you think about the way testimonials are displayed here: http://www.startupcampcanberra.com/?page_id=86 ?

  12. Hi Sydni,

    Thanks for your insights on this matter. Being an online company we solicit feedback from customers every time they finish their transaction. About 40% of them agree to fill out a simple questionnaire/survey.

    As you say, doing it consistently is the key.

    Best regards!

  13. I have a question about getting testimonials in the health care field cue to confidentiality issues & privacy laws. Are testimonials valid without a name or photo? Seems that they might lack credibility because anyone could write anything about themselves. Aloha!

    • This is a GREAT question Donna. Generally speaking, the more detail you can provide on a client (i.e. a video, their voice in an audio, their headshot, name, city, state and a brief description like “VP of Sales” or “Stay at Home Mother of 3”) the more weight your testimonials carry.

      That said, clearly many of your patients may not feel comfortable providing this level of detail. At the very least, you can ask to use their initials, and city/state. Then you might give a description such as “35 year old woman who was facing chronic pain due to XYZ illness”.

      A description such as this provides a point of reference for the reader and makes the comments more relatable.

      Please let me know if you have other questions.

      Warm regards,
      Sydni