Customer Testimonials: How to Get Them and What to Get in Them
This also allows you to frame the offer. If you're offering a somewhat expensive burrito, but with really good ingredients, ask for a testimonial and frame the offer: "Our burritos cost more, but our ingredients are the finest available. And we use more meat than our competitors. If you agree, we would be grateful for a post on Yelp." (Or your site, or another site that accepts comments about businesses.) This way, your customers, as the sit down to eat that burrito, are thinking about your promise—that the burrito is special. If it is, they will feel good, and they will be likely to create that testimonial. (And by framing the offer around the quality, those testimonials will likely be on the quality, and not on the dangerous neighborhood or lack of parking.)
3. If folks volunteer to have you write their testimonials and use their names, don't.
a. It's not right; and
b. these important advocates for your growing business might question your willingness to write something under their name, even after offering you that option; and
c. real testimonials sound … real. Your testimonial will sound too polished, too rational.
Let me share the power of a testimonial that I never could have written myself. My example's from the vacation-rental business. Right before she checked out, one of my renters sent me a nice email. After not getting a testimonial, I suggested that she submit to VRBO the email that she had sent to me. She did. It's a strange testimonial in that the email includes, among other things, a reference to the smoke detector going off. But I never could have written a testimonial so genuine:
Review Rating: 5/5
Review Title: "PERFECTION"
"From an email I sent to the owner:
Your place was great. Such a great space and the decor was fabulous. We love your taste in movies and music. We did set off the fire alarm at one point, hope it didn't bother or alarm you. Just burnt stuff while cooking. We were dying, hoping you wouldn't be bothered. Then giggling because we set it off. You know you can go forever not setting it off in your own house, then go to someone else's house and set it off the first night.
Loved the view, how easy it was to go places, and how you had everything one could need for a stay. Our favorite part was probably reading the Mensa Quiz book while watching the fog roll over the hill into the bay. We enjoyed it so very much. Thanks.
New, clean, wonderfully equipped and the owners will not bother you even if you do set off the alarm."
4. Specifics are the key to effective testimonials. Specifics create credibility. "Love the food" doesn't say all that much. But "The seafood burrito was AMAZING. The shrimp were massive!" rings true. And this testimonial will actually bring in customers—at least those who like shrimp. Specific testimonials also allow you to list a bunch of them without being boring; "Love the food," can only be listed so many times. And in marketing materials or on Web pages, at the product level, generic testimonials can seem forced. So collect testimonials and encourage contributors to be specific.
5. Specific identities give the testimonial punch. Get permission to reference, as specifically as appropriate, the contributor. Not "Bob, Fairfax, CA" but "Bob Burger, Fairfax, CA."
If your business involves a face-to-face transaction (burrito shop, vacation rental, etc.) consider having a form available. The top might have blank lines labeled Feedback/Suggestions and, below that, a place labeled Name/Address and Signature. A little check box below that can ask for permission to use the comments and the writer's name.
If reviewers love your product/service, but fear being contacted by others, ask them what you can use to add specificity. For example, Bob may not want his last name used, but may be totally comfortable with his age or occupation, coupled with his town. Common sense should prevail. If it's a burrito shop testimonial, inclusion of his occupation seems—at least to me—to be weird. But if it's a meditation DVD, occupation or age might help other prospects relate to the review.