Customer testimonials are often seen as website filler, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Testimonials, like references, show your prospective clients that others are happy with your work. Also like references, they come from people who have paid you, meaning that their opinion is likely to be honest in the eyes of other clients. Unlike references, however, testimonials can be a front line tool to help you land a client before they ever ask for your references.
There is a right way to get testimonials, and that way is to simply ask. There are a number of ways to go about asking, but the easiest way is to ask your customers to fill out a survey or comment card. These cards will give the customer a space to let you know how happy (or unhappy) they were with the work, and offer their suggestions as to how you can improve. Those cards that are filled with glowing reviews can then be used as your testimonials.
To make sure the customer is okay with you using their words, send them an email along the lines of, “Hi (name of customer), thank you for taking the time to respond on our comment card.I just finished reading what you wrote and was wondering if I could use you words and first name as a testimonial for our website?” If the customer says yes, you’re golden. If they say no, let it go. There will be other glowing reviews to post.
If you’re going to post testimonials, do everything in your power NOT to edit them. It’s fine to correct spelling or grammar errors, but that’s as far as your editorial process should go. Changing words or ideas will backfire on you if you plan to use your testimonial customers as references, since they won’t know what they’re supposed to have written.
Now that you have glowing testimonials, you’ll have to find a place to put them where they’re easily seen by customers. You could certainly make a page on your company website devoted to testimonials, but that would require customers to actually look for them. Consider working a testimonial (or a partial testimonial with a link to your testimonial page) into the front page of your site. That way, any prospective client checking out your site will be confronted with positive reviews about you right away.
Post and Rotate
Leaving the same testimonials on your site for months or even years looks terrible to clients. Instead, post testimonials a few at a time and rotate them out every couple of months. That way, clients still deciding whom to contract with will see new and fresh testimonials when they check out your site in the final decision making phase. You can also use a slider for your testimonials so they automatically change every few seconds.
Make Them More Real
Anyone can write a testimonial, and unfortunately there are people who are paid to do just that. If you can, get permission to post before and after photos for each testimonial to lend the air of authenticity. If at all possible, include customers who have written testimonials at the top of your references list. This will show clients in the decision making phase that your testimonials, your site, and therefore your company are worthy of their trust. Testimonials are an advantageous tool to use, especially when they come organically from comment cards. By utilizing them effectively, you can turn the happiness of one customer into business opportunities from several.