Avoiding awkwardness in getting customer testimonials

Ron Brauner’s Blog reminds us of “one of the most successful marketing headlines of all time” in Free Marketing Headlines. What is it? The customer testimonial.

However, getting customer testimonials can be awkward and even embarrassing. When asked directly by someone to say something nice about them, can you say no, even if you want to? And you don’t want to put customers in a difficult position.

Here’s a technique I recently used for a client, which produced results that bowled us over (and not just the one from the happy customer who asked “You don’t have a sister, do you?”). We set up a survey – using SurveyMonkey – where there were two questions, both open-ended with large text boxes for the responders to write what they liked. The first question was “how could we improve our service to you?” and the second was “what do you like about doing business with us?”

We got far more responses to this survey than we’d normally get – I think people are genuinely flattered to be asked for their opinions, and enjoy the chance to push a supplier in a direction which benefits them. The first set of answers were useful from a customer service point of view. But the answers to the second question were marketing gold – the only embarrassment here was at the company itself, which was quite taken aback at the warmth of the feedback, most of which went straight on its website, unattributed of course.

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