“Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd.” – P.T. Barnum
Why are customer testimonials so important today for business success? Well, the answer lies in technology – customers today have a very large number of channels of communication and expression. It is easy for anyone to post a comment, write a review, endorse a company through a great testimonial, and trash a company through the same means. Customer testimonials send irrefutable indications of trust and goodwill and others are more likely to believe these endorsements since they are from people who would have actually ‘experienced’ a company and its products. Customer testimonials will always be more convincing and believable than any other form of promotion or advertising a company can put forth. Additionally, smart companies would use customer testimonials for business success by making them part of their marketing endeavours – “Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message.” – Mark Zuckerberg
While it is necessary to use customer testimonials for business promotion and success, companies must remain aware that not all testimonials would work as effectively. This means that while a customer may write kind words, which of course, are highly appreciated, the best testimonials are those that would feel relatable, useful, motivate others to action, and would be specific in terms of the actual benefits that a company and its products offer. It would be necessary therefore, for a company to use customer testimonials in a way that they would bring maximum benefit and serve as an unbiased endorsement and sound recommendation of the company and its offerings. To ensure that your company is using customer testimonials for business success, include them in all formats – text, audio, and or video – to help prospects in deciding in favour of the company by allaying their fears and apprehensions. For example – infant products are usually prone to closer examination and more scepticism. Everyone wants the best and perfect product for the tiny tots. An endorsement from a current user – say a young mother – regarding the safety and purity of the products, is sure to help sell the said products a lot more. Some companies use celebrities to endorse their products – the respect and love these VIPs enjoy, convinces their ‘fans and followers’ to believe their endorsement.
When choosing customer testimonials, as mentioned, it would be necessary to be prudent in the choice. Testimonials continue to be the most effective way to show that your company and its products have the support of current users (and the crowd). Given their effectiveness and importance, it would be prudent to select those that would have an instant connection with prospective users, driving them to action. It would be necessary to use the online space available for the best testimonials, rather than on the ones that seem half-baked and unconvincing. The good news however, is that even one testimonial can draw a lot of positive attention to a company and its products – it would be able to start a wave of positivity, encouraging other users to comment as well.
We know that using customer testimonials is necessary business success, but what exactly do these ‘positive words’ achieve for a company. It is obvious that every prospect would approach a company with some amount of scepticism and apprehension. Customer testimonials serve to alleviate those doubts as they reflect trust and confidence in a company and in the claims, the company may make about its offerings. Testimonials should back a company’s promises with actual statistics – how much money a customer was able to save, the benefits a customer gained from using the company’s products, how the products alleviated pain areas and improved the customer’s business and life.
Another way, customer testimonials can prove effective for business success is when they are by someone, with whom the company’s target audience can relate (as mentioned in the example of products for toddlers). The fact is that even if a person giving the testimonial were a celebrity or authority figure, their endorsement would not be effective if they did not have a toddler or an infant at home. Customer testimonials are effective only when they are credible – that is, they clearly state the name, business, and place of the customer. A photo with the testimonial would add even more weight and credibility. If a company can get a customer to provide the testimonial in the form of an audio or video, the personal connection with the ‘viewers and prospects’ would be a lot higher, and would encourage people to take action in favour of the company. Remember however, to request your customers to state the actual benefits they would have received from associating with your company and using the products. Other existing customers and prospective ones, should be able to draw a balanced comparison with other products and or services available in the market through the customer testimonials. The testimonial should be instrumental in making your company and its products stand out.
Having put forth a number of reasons why it is prudent to use customer testimonials for business, the next question to answer would be how a company can gain the maximum number and most effective customer testimonials. Many companies include a portion / form on their website and or social media sites that enable customers to provide their endorsement. A direct question such as “how did the product help alleviate your problems, and what benefits did you receive from it?” would enable the customer to provide a clear and descriptive response. Of course, in order to encourage customers to use this form and provide the best testimonial, it would be prudent to place some similar testimonials around it, as examples of the kind of feedback your company would be seeking.
Another method of collecting customer testimonials is an auto-response system that connects with customers immediately after they make a purchase, asking them whether the product would be living up to their expectations, and how it would be benefiting them. In addition, there should be a provision for customers to respond on the kind of experience and customer service they would have had through the company. Customers, who send an appreciation mail or comment on their own, would obviously be pleased with the company, and it would be prudent to ask for permission to use their comments on the company’s website, as recommendation. In using their recommendation, not only would a company be gaining but also the customer would gain visibility too, and hence would certainly want the company to use their recommendation.
There are so many reasons today for why customer testimonials can aid business success. Research shows that with the rapid rise in technology, prospective customers first check the testimonials and reviews of existing customers before buying or even making any effort to connect with a company. Customer testimonials instil trust in prospective buyers. In addition, testimonials provide a company with an unbiased view of their strengths, and a new perspective on how customers view the company and its products. The encouragement from positive customer testimonials would enable a company to get better, do more for customers, and enhance the quality of their service and products. The negative comments should be used by a company to be aware of its faults, and take whatever action possible to eliminate its shortcomings. When a company can believe in itself, and have customers believe too, business success is almost a given. Have you started collecting customer testimonials yet?