It is becoming more and more clear that the old school business communication methods are slowly becoming outdated and customers’ trust in traditional marketing and advertising is constantly decreasing.
The oldest known form of marketing, word of mouth, is today more relevant than ever. At first glance, this might seem anti-climatic in such a highly digitalized society as the one we live in today, but WOM (word of mouth) marketing can take different shapes, and one of them is client testimonials.
One of the best ways to build trust and convince new customers that you are the right person to help them is by showcasing your previous successes through the lens of your former clients. According to a HubSpot study from 2018, more than half of those surveyed admitted that having positive customer reviews mattered to them when paying for a business service or software, so it’s safe to say that without solid testimonials from your clients, your chances of attracting new customers are low.
Now, even though you might expect that some clients you have done good work for will want to recommend you, you shouldn’t count on that entirely. It is a rather remote event when a client will offer you a written recommendation on their own initiative, so most of the times you will need to know how to ask for a testimonial from clients in order to obtain what you’re looking for.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into the actionable tips that you should keep in mind when reaching out to clients to ask for a testimonial on your services.
Deliver high-quality work and results
While this might not seem like an actual step in the process of obtaining a testimonial from clients, I could argue that it is in fact the most important part of the process, without which all the other efforts you might put in to obtain a recommendation will be useless. By focusing on the quality of your end product you will not only increase your chances of receiving some positive words from your clients, but you will also work towards building customer loyalty.
If you are confident that the work you put into a project is satisfactory for both you and the customer and it has delivered the desired results, another thing to consider is the inter-human relationship you have with each client. As a freelancer or small business owner, you have probably encountered all sorts of different types of clients. Some are very easy and fun to work with, others are more demanding and have more difficult personalities. No matter how tough you might find it to collaborate with some clients, mutual respect and understanding combined with a good work ethic will go a long way towards helping you have happy clients that will be willing to publicly recommend you to others.
Get the timing right
How would you react if somebody you worked with three years ago would all of a sudden pop up in your inbox and ask you for feedback and recommendations for a project you collaborated on back then? It’s safe to say that you’d probably be at least surprised and you would maybe spend some time trying to remember who that person was and how your collaboration went. Definitely, not an ideal situation for you, neither for the person asking for feedback. How are you supposed to remember what happened that long ago and why are they only remembering of you now that they need something from you?
To avoid creating such situations, make sure that if you are asking for a testimonial, the client knows clearly who you are and the work you’ve done for them is still clear in their minds. The best practice is to ask for a testimonial once you know that you’ve had a successful customer experience, for example, once you achieved the preset goals or even exceeded them. As a rule of thumb, you could reach out right after the project is finalised or once the client starts getting value from your work. By following this practice, you basically minimize the chances of getting a rejection of your request.
If you want to make sure that you are reaching out at the ideal moment, it would be a good idea to get to know your target audience better by conducting research on the customer journey they take when interacting with your service.
Allow respondents to choose how they want to answer
There are multiple ways to go about collecting data for testimonials and there is no correct or wrong way to do it. Whether you prefer collecting written answers from the respondents or allow them to record the answers in video or audio formats is less important. What matters is that you offer the clients the possibility to choose the way in which they’d like to transmit the information. Not everyone is an expert writer, and not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of a camera while recording themselves. Another benefit of this approach is that you might end up collecting a diverse range of testimonial types, which is always cool to have if you want to include both video and written reviews of your work on your website or social media pages.
Lead them in the right direction
If you are simply going to ask what they liked about your service you might not necessarily get the answers you were looking for. That is why having a well-thought-out set of questions will go a long way in assisting you to capture just the right words. No matter the format that the respondents choose to reply in, you should always think ahead when formulating the questions you will address them.
Open-ended questions are great for avoiding one-word answers. Another thing to keep in mind is to try to formulate questions in such a way that it touches upon the initial pain point that led them to need your services in the first place and then how you were able to solve their problems. Other noteworthy things to ask about might be regarding the reason why they chose you over the others, what they were looking to gain from your expertise and how the general experience was.
Offer an incentive
I’m not saying that people are selfish, but generally they are much more likely to help you when they know there is something in it for them. To increase your chances of getting a good testimonial, why not try to offer something in return? Something as simple as offering to write a review for them on their preferred platform (Google reviews, TrustPilot, GlassDoor) or offering them a discount code if that makes sense for the specifics of your business can come in handy and create the feeling that it is a win-win situation.
With all that’s been said, I hope that these tips will help you gain as many positive testimonials as you’d like and help you grow your business. What you need to remember is that once you are confident in the quality of the work you put in, you can go ahead and ask for what you want right after finishing the project. If you make it easy for the respondents to answer and on top of that make it clear what they could gain from the agreement, you have all the right ingredients to succeed in this task. Last but not least, do not give up easily. If some people will not answer your requests at first, you can always politely follow up with a reminder email.