Customer quotes are a staple of customer evidence. But how do you go about getting customers to provide testimonial quotes or reviews for your product or service?
Here are 10 tips to get started securing powerful customer quotes to accelerate your business.
It sounds simple, but this step is often overlooked. Sales people may not want to “bother” existing customers. However, asking for customer quotes or testimonials can build stronger relationships with your customers. The customers may be flattered – and happy customers often love to talk about their experiences. Better relationships may lead to up-sell opportunities, product development and improved customer satisfaction. Approaching the ask with a “what’s in it for the customer” mentality will also likely get the customer to engage, rather than making the ask about your immediate need for a testimonial.
2. Provide directions and an alternate path for constructive feedback.
Make sure it is easy, simple and fast for customers to provide the review. Provide a link to the area on the site where the customer can write the review. Don’t be afraid to give your customers guidance, by providing examples or an outline. Make it clear where the customer should enter basic information, such as name, title, company, rating, and comments. Although it’s not optimal, it is OK if the customer remains anonymous or only completes part of your requested review. An anonymous review is better than no review, and over time, your customer may change his/her mind as they see others participating publicly.
The reality is, not every comment a customer makes about you will be positive. Allow constructive feedback to be given through an alternate path that is not published publicly. It is important to capture specific comments or concerns and address them appropriately.
3. Get a few easy ones under your belt first.
Nobody likes to be the first to give a review, so when starting out, ask a couple of your most trusted and friendly customers. They may be more tolerant of a process that has not yet been tested and can help you work out the kinks in a risk-free environment. Don’t begin with your largest customer or the one with the biggest brand name. Once you have gone through the process a few times with “easy-going” customers, you’ll have ironed out any kinks and can confidently move on to bigger or more strategically important ones.
4. Do your homework before plowing ahead.
Now that you have practiced on a few friendly customers, you can begin asking others. But before you get too ambitious, make sure you do your homework. Sending out an impersonal email blast to all your customers asking for quotable comments is a mistake. Instead, take a targeted approach. Review who your most active users are, who has participated in private or public forums with your company, and who has expressed satisfaction recently.
In many cases, it will make sense to reach out to the specific sales person who sold the product or talk to the customer service representative who has a good relationship with the customer. Create a template that person can tailor so it lightens their work. It will be much easier to get a review if you leverage existing relationships. Also, remember that a constant flow of good comments is better than a whole bunch at one time and then nothing for a while, so pace yourself.
“One of my tactics is to keep a file of positive comments as the customer makes them. This can happen any time in a sales cycle or during post-sales training. Customers are in feedback mode during these times and are comfortable talking about the product. If I hear a really strong recommendation or an enthusiastic comment, I write down the name of the person, date and time the comment was made. The problem with getting customers to contribute is that they often don’t know what to say or how to say it. If you can assure them that they’ve already said it, then they’re usually happy to have their comment published. When it’s time to ask for quotes, it’s really helpful to pull out a collection of comments that have already been made. If you have many documented comments from several different people, the process comes down to selecting the best one(s). This method works best if your sale people, pre-sales, post-sales and customer support staff are all in the mode of recording customer quotes.”
– Sarah Mitchell, Content Marketing Consultant, Global Copywriting
5. Integrate requests with an existing campaign.
It makes sense to check with marketing, billing and other departments to see what kinds of communications campaigns are going out to customers. For example, if there is a newsletter going out to all of your current customers, you may want to evaluate the opportunity to include a simple message requesting quotes by encouraging happy customers to share their experiences.
6. Ask more than one contact within an organization.
Once you have identified your target customers make sure you are asking the right people within those organizations. If there are multiple people using your products/services at one company, go ahead and ask as many of them for a quote as makes sense. Again, remember to check to make sure there are no open issues with any of these individuals before you make the requests.
7. Be sincere and express gratitude.
You want good quotes, but you also need to make sure that they are real and credible. Ask only active, or in some cases former, customers that have real experience with your products or services. And as you do receive good quotes or reviews, make sure to reach out and let those individuals know you appreciate their support. Use this as an opportunity to build a stronger business relationship.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for more.
Folks willing to review products and services may be references in waiting. Just because they provided you with something once doesn’t mean you can’t ask for more from them. They may be willing to be a more active customer reference that speaks directly to your prospects. Or perhaps they would be willing to provide comments for an upcoming relevant news release. Use your best judgment, be respectful and ask appropriately, but remember to watch for these potentially valuable opportunities.
9. Assign an owner.
If you don’t have an owner to oversee the quote campaign, you need to assign one. If it is left up to everyone or no one at all, you are not likely to receive the kind of results you are hoping for and you risk alienating customers. Consider assigning this important responsibility to someone in Marketing, Communications or Sales Operations as these departments are closest to customers and understand the sensitivities around caring for and servicing them.
10. Use your results.
One of the nice things about customer testimonial quotes is that they require a relatively low effort of investment from your customers. If customer quotes aren’t part of your customer reference program today, go make it happen!
Now that you are on your way, don’t forget why you started all this. Remember to promote the quotes on your website and in your sales and marketing materials. Gather constructive feedback and leverage it to close support issues, help in product development, and develop lasting improvements in your business. Use the quotations as a launching pad to propel your business to the next level.