Importance of Customer Testimonials

“It’s because of this fundamental shift towards user-generated information that people will listen more to other people than to traditional sources.” – Eric Schmidt

The dictionary defines testimonials as “a formal statement testifying to someone’s character and qualifications.” By its definition, such a statement from customers about the strengths and capabilities of a company would have a huge positive impact for a company’s business. Customer testimonials are formidable and highly authoritative and go a long way to build the trust, credibility and reputation of a company. Even as customers, we know that we are more easily influenced towards a company / brand when it has rich endorsements from other users or as they are called, customer testimonials. These ‘statements’ are rated extremely high as proof that a brand or product and company is superlative and that customers are not only willing to give them more business, they are also happy to be brand ambassadors for the company.

Within society we see that it is normal for people to follow the behaviour of those that they admire and wish to emulate and also those who may belong to a similar strata and background. It is no secret as to why brands use well-known people, celebrities and even film stars to endorse their products – people identify with and hold these people in high esteem and hence anything these celebrities say and use is more likely to be grabbed up by other consumers. Often the products and brands may be right for the person’s ‘copying’ the buying patterns of ‘influencers’ and at other times, people may buy them only as a status symbol. Whatever the reason, customer testimonials do have a very large and profound impact on the behaviour and thinking of other potential customers and therefore companies must strive to get more of them through effective and innovative products and excellent customer service.

In a previous exposition, we had spoken about the power and influence of ‘crowd behaviour’ i.e. people will follow what a large number of other customers are using and endorsing. It is proof that social interactions and behaviours are powerful methods to influence behaviour and this is precisely the use of customer testimonials – the more the better. When many ‘users’ are saying the same thing about a product and or company, they work as stimulants and guides for others. It is imperative for companies to use and display these customer testimonials as effectively and as visibly as possible. The best customer testimonials are those that not only say that a company and its products are great but also why they are so great and the benefits the user has derived from using them. For example – “The product was really great and beneficial” may constitute a testimonial but is short and vague. Other readers would like to know a bit more. Of course, a company cannot dictate how customer testimonials are written but if their products and customer service have been outstanding, customers tend to express their happiness in many more words. Plus the landing page of websites must be engaging and interesting enough to keep the ‘visitors’ on the site for longer and ensure that they do read the customer testimonials.

We have described previously what an effective website is and how it helps to influence the visitor behaviour – changing leads to sales. One crucial aspect of a truly engaging and effective website is the customer testimonials – displayed proudly and in a highly visible manner. The fact is that when you have described your products and services well and these descriptions are corroborated by the customer testimonials, it becomes a lot easier and effective for potential customers to decide in your favour. There is no point of customer testimonials if ‘visitors’ do not see the correlation between these views and your website content. In fact, people tend to think that the company wrote out the customer testimonials and this could be bad for business.

Customer testimonials, we know, are powerful and can evoke highly impactful positive reactions in people reading them. These statements qualify the hard work your company has put in and rewards the customer service efforts made to ensure that customers remain happy and satisfied. Customer testimonials are not easy to receive though. It is a well-known fact that a disgruntled customer is more likely to express negative views than a customer who is fairly satisfied with both your products and customer service. It takes exceptional levels of service and great quality products, consistently, to make customers express their ‘joy’ in the form of testimonials. They will have learned to trust your company and have the belief that your company is dependable and will do whatever it takes to meet their demands and needs.

Despite a company’s best efforts, there could be times when there is a product flaw or a service lapse. This is when customers will write negative reviews. These can prove detrimental if the company does not respond to them speedily. If a company does respond and ensures that they do everything possible to appease the customer, this would prove to be a great opportunity to impress potential customers. People know that mistakes will happen but they must also see that your company is making immediate and full-fledged efforts to rectify the error and also ensure that it does not happen again. This is great from a customer service point of view. In fact, negative reviews actually help a company – if there are only great customer testimonials, people tend to distrust and could also believe that they are fake.

As a company and brand if you have been able to establish your credibility and have even a few loyal customers, you would be able to request them to write their testimonial in the form of a narration. They could begin by describing why they selected your company and its offerings and the problems they were facing earlier. They could then go on to say how your company and its offerings were instrumental in alleviating those problems and the benefits they have gained since they began doing business with your company. Such a narration is an intriguing and interesting form of customer testimonials and allows prospective customers to understand how the company can be of use to them. In addition, companies can also request their customers to write about their experiences in terms of customer service and the efficacy and usability of their website. As ‘visitors’ see the similarities between customer testimonials and what the company offers, they would be more keen to do business with the company and have those benefits for themselves too.

“A picture speaks a thousand words” and so companies should be able to encourage their satisfied users to add photos and pictures with the customer testimonials – this is especially useful for restaurants and hotels, where rather than describing a dish or a property, patrons click photos and upload them. This serves as testimony for the statements being real and also that the person actually visited the places mentioned. The more such reviews and photos, the more credibility is obtained – it just means that the company is being visited often and people are finding enough value and quality to make the effort to write about it and post pictures.

We mentioned briefly that customer testimonials will be of no use if they are not placed where they can be seen prominently. The landing page of your website is one great place to exhibit the customer testimonials – they will be on the first page that visitors read when they visit your website. These positive enforcements will also intrigue your ‘visitors’ to read the remainder of your website too and there is a higher possibility of conversions from such ‘visits’. Customer testimonials also go great with your social media linkages – customers are encouraged to read and share what they find interesting and engaging and your company gains by the additional ‘coverage’ and free advertisement. Step up on your customer service and personalize your products and gain invaluable customer testimonials and repeat business as a reward.

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