Incorporating customer testimonials into front- and back-end direct mail, such as prospecting packages and customer invoices, can generate great results. According to HCI Direct’s Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service Karen Arbegast, testimonials are key components for marketing success. After 30 years using customer testimonials to market a women’s hosiery auto-replenishment home delivery continuity service, HCI recently added wellness and beauty product lines for women ages 40 and over. Now the company is revitalizing its proven testimonial-gathering process using e-mail marketing to solicit testimonials from customers who sign up for free trials of new HCI products. In this issue of TM Tipline, Arbegast shares insights into the testimonial development process that helps HCI effectively promote its services to prospects and continuously resell service benefits to customers in all stages of activity.
Target Marketing: What testimonial-gathering methods have you found to be the most effective?
Karen Arbegast: We find [testimonials] to be very important additions, providing credibility and proof of the promises we make about our products. [Testimonials back up company claims and put a human face] on the science behind the product. We directly solicit testimonials by contacting customers through e-mail and asking them to volunteer to use a particular product. We then ship the product along with a questionnaire to all participants.
TM: How do you identify testimonials during service calls?
KA: Generally, customers volunteer information about their experience with the products. We are not actively using the call center for gathering testimonials; the way we refine and test through customer service produces customer testimonials. For example, if we are talking to a customer and they share the benefits of a product or service, we will identify that customer as a potential testimonial source and customer service will pass that on to the marketing department. Because customer service and marketing are part of the same team, they are attuned to marketing’s needs. [That way, customers] can send in testimonials through all three channels. There is nothing like having someone just offer up a testimonial for the service, benefits of the product or the member rewards programs. We actually get many unsolicited testimonials though customer service calls, correspondence and e-mail.