One of the areas I find many businesses lack in consistency is in getting testimonials from their clients. They may forget to ask, be afraid to ask, or think that the client may say something negative against the product or service. The truth is if you have done everything you can to make sure the experience for your client has been the best then you shouldn’t have to worry about negative comments. If you do get a negative comment it is how you take that comment and use it that is the most important thing. If you look at it as a personal attack on you specifically then yes you won’t want to hear negative criticism from anyone. In business however, the trick is to remember the saying, “It’s just business, don’t take it personally.” Take that attitude and you will find it easier to take the negative criticism.
Now of course our goal is not to get negative comments on our business. If a project has gone wrong you probably wouldn’t ask that client for a testimonial because you know things didn’t go well, but should you? Negative testimonials are a great way to improve your business. So ask that client in a nice way by saying, “Jim I know the project didn’t go as planned and I certainly want it to go better if we work together again in the future, what things on your end do you feel we could have done better to serve you?” Once you ask that take the information and say thank you for your feedback. Do the same thing on your end and think to yourself what went wrong and how you would do things better next time. Whether you change anything or not is up to you but at least you will know how your client feels.
The point is that we want get positive testimonials as those are the ones we can use to promote our business. The key here is to consistently be sending them out after every job or on a regular basis. You need something simple that can be filled out quickly and that captures the information you need. It could be a quick email, a structured form, or a formal letter. Just remember if it is too much you will have trouble getting people to fill it out. You also need to cover yourself to use it on promotional material.
The key information you want to get is performance of the service, comments on the experience in working with your company, and if they would recommend you to others. So how do you ask for them. I like to say, “ Bob, I was wondering if you would mind writing a few positive statements about your experience dealing with our company for promotional purposes? Please include your name and company if you feel comfortable doing so. I appreciate you taking the time to fill out the form and look forward to working with you again in the future.” Once you have those you now want to place them on key promotional material for your business. Testimonials are very powerful especially if they are given through third party methods that potential clients can tell haven’t been altered. Of course you now have to keep your service matching your testimonials.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the businesses. More information can be found on his website at www.outridge.ca