Testimonials Give Your Business Credibility…

… and Feedback Helps You Grow

When I worked at a large research lab, my organization had internal clients – we were all employees of the same company but we looked at the people for whom we did work as our customers. And as such we would give them feedback forms with every finished product we handed them. Those completed feedback forms then went to our boss! Some were good, some were bad, all were honest.

What’s the difference between a Testimonial and Feedback?

Sometimes they can be one and the same, but mostly feedback talks about an experience a customer has had, and they give a more basic commentary on the quality of product and customer service they received.  If they had a bad experience they will tell you in the “feedback.”

A testimonial is always a positive statement, and usually more thought out. It share the positive feelings a customer has about an experience with your business, or your business in general.  It’s a great selling tool because somebody loves you and they’re willing to tell the world; and put their name on it… which says a lot!

Do you solicit testimonials and feedback?

Client feedback is crucial to understanding the market (the people) you serve. But it can be scary to ask someone’s honest opinion of how you did on a project, or how you are in general with your work.

When I took photography courses at  Columbia College in Chicago, every week we had to display our work for the class to critique. Yikes! It was tough and I held back tears on more than one occasion. I put my heart and soul into those photos. It was as if they were critiquing a piece of ME. And to some level they were, because I put me into those photos; just like you put yourself into your work.

But I needed to hear the criticism. How else would I improve?!

If we can put our suit of armor on and look at comments and feedback objectively, we can improve the product or service (or both) that we offer.

Wouldn’t you like to hear a nice combination of positive comments about your work, maybe mixed with some comments about areas where you could improve?? This would be ideal. How do you get that if you don’t solicit it?

So how do you ask for feedback and written testimonials?

  • You can provide forms for people to complete and give to you on the spot. This is good if you work one-on-one with your clients.
  • You can provide an online comment form and direct your customer there.
    • Put a QR code (Quick Response – those squiggly-looking bar code squares) on a card that also gives instruction for leaving a testimonial. If they scan the QR code with their phone, they can be taken directly to a form on your website.  You can even just have this on a poster on your wall that they can scan right there.
  • You can ask people to give a testimonial on Yelp for you. Be sure you have officially “claimed” your page on Yelp first!  And then check it often.
  • Be sure to get their permission to use their full name!   Just putting a first name and last initial means you could just be making these up.
    • Since this is all about building credibility, trust and business, you want your testimonials to exude these qualities.  First and last name, company name if appropriate and even a photo will all make the testimonial more believable.

The Hard Times

When you get negative comments you need to respond to them.  Don’t try to cover them up and keep them secret; reach out to that person and ask how you can make it better for them.  Even if they are being harsh (you may need that suit of armor again), there may be something to glean from the content of what they say.

The Happy Times

Testimonials you can use on your website will be the ones that uplift you and your company. You don’t have to toot your own horn. Let someone else do it for you! In fact, people would prefer to hear about you from someone else!

Put testimonials on your website. This is a common thread on the most successful websites – having legitimate, believable, honest testimonials. They give you credibility, and they build trust with potential customers.

Don’t Forget to Offer Testimonials and Constructive Feedback to Others!

Be sure to give what you would like to receive; honest comments and feedback on your experience – both good and bad – with other businesses.  And offer to give a testimonial when you’ve had a really great experience.  Be willing to give your name, business and photo (it gets your name in front of people too).

It is important to take the time to give positive feedback and testimonials when people do good.  Don’t just wait until you are dissatisfied.

What do you do with testimonials when you get them?

Put them on your website, printed materials, advertisements… everywhere.  But since we focus on websites, here are a few ideas.

Rotating Testimonials

Use a plugin such as Testimonials Widget to set testimonials to cycle through in your side column.

Testimonials in visually interesting display

Try putting testimonials in boxes or some form with visual interest rather than a long page of text.

Links to Sites Where People Can Write

Add links to websites where customers can leave comments and also add your own comment form.

So what do YOU think?  Leave your comments here!  😉

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