6 steps to powerful customer testimonials.

Oct 22 2020 | Alice Wong, PayPal editorial staff

"Great." "Would recommend." "Happy with purchase." Do those types of reviews sound familiar?
A survey shows the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business and spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making their minds up.1 But not all reviews are equal – and the more specific they are, the more enticing they'll be to new customers. After all, 91% of consumers in the same study say positive reviews made them more likely to buy.2
So if you want to elevate the quality of your customer reviews, it will take some follow-up diligence and time investment, but the payoff can serve your business well. Here's the six-step process you can follow.

1. Decide who you want to get a testimonial from.

Pinpointing exactly who could provide a good testimonial will depend on how you do business. If you work closely with customers on a one-on-one basis, identify the ones who might provide useful reviews. If you have a more automated customer experience, you may not deal with many of your customers directly. In that case, keep track of people who use your product regularly and send an automated email once they reach a certain amount of purchases, asking if they would be willing to provide a testimonial.

2. Make the ask.

Sending an email asking for a testimonial is one thing, but to really get customers excited about giving feedback, throw in an incentive. It could be tangible – like offering them a free gift or discount for their next purchase – but it doesn't have to be. Even letting them know you want to feature them on your blog, website, or social media can give them enough of a feel-good factor to help you.
Once they agree to help out, give enthusiastic customers the option of a phone interview or filling out a worksheet or online form (
Google Forms and Survey Monkey are a couple of useful tools).
Here's an email template you can use and customize to make the ask:
Email Subject Line <Thank you - can we ask for 2 more minutes of your time?>
Hi <customer name>,
Thank you for purchasing <insert items they've purchased> from our store. I'm the owner of <insert company name> and would like to ask you if you can do me a small favor, please. As a small business, we rely on customers like you to learn and grow.
Would you be open to spending a few minutes on the phone with me so we can hear about your experience and what we can do better for you next time? We welcome all honest feedback.
And if jumping on the phone is not a viable option, I can also send you a short 2-
minute online form to fill out. Please let me know what you prefer.
We would really appreciate your feedback and look forward to hearing from you.
<Your name>
Let them know they'll have final approval of any testimonial linked to their name. By making the process as easy as possible, you're more likely to get people to participate.

3. Prepare your questions.

Come up with a handful of questions to ask your customers that are unique to the product or service you offer and the value you provide. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • What influenced you to seek out our product/service?
  • What made us stand out from other options on the market?
  • What made you happiest about working with our company?
  • What have you been able to achieve since using our product/service?
  • Do you have any metrics or anecdotal evidence you can share?
  • What advice would you give a coworker or friend who is considering buying our product or service?
Four or five questions is usually a good number. That should allow you to gather enough feedback to craft the testimonial without overburdening your customer.

4. Craft the testimonial.

No one knows the strengths and uniqueness of your business better than you do. That's why you're better able to craft a testimonial that demonstrates your business's unique selling proposition. At first, you might feel uncomfortable writing a testimonial on behalf of your customer, but remember, you're basing it on their words. As long as you remain true to the feedback they provided and give them a chance to review and edit the testimonial before posting it, customers won't mind.
When writing the testimonial, keep it short and impactful. Two to three hundred words is a good length. Here's an example of taking an okay testimonial to good.
Okay: "XYZ Social Media Management Company earned me more followers and higher engagement."

Good: "Working with XYZ Social Media Management Company helped me gain 10,000 new followers and a 30% increase in engagement over three months. I would highly recommend them if you are looking to boost your social following quickly."

Both say the same thing, but the second one earns more confidence for the next customer. Just make sure each testimonial reflects the customer's tone and voice, not your own. Testimonials need to look and sound like they come from real customers, otherwise your reviews won't feel authentic.
If some customers feel it’s too invasive to use their full name, work around that by putting their first name and initial of last (Alice W.) – it’ll feel just as authentic. 

5. Get final customer approval.

Once you've drafted the testimonial, send it to your customer for final approval. This confirms they're happy to have their name attached. (And be sure to thank them for their time!)
Whenever possible, get written approval as soon as you have the testimonial ready for publication. After all, personnel can change rapidly, or the company might institute a new policy about how others use its name. Getting approval in writing means you'll have a record of their authorization, even if policies and roles within the organization change.

6. Make the most of the testimonial.

Now that you have a strong, well-crafted customer testimonial, make it work for you in several ways. In addition to posting it on your product or service pages, feature it in a blog post or email newsletter. You can also include quotes on your social media, and, if there's enough content, create a case study to share with prospective customers. Ask your customers who gave you the review to help you post on third-party review sites like Yelp, Google Business, Foursquare, and Trustpilot.
No matter how comfortable you feel highlighting your business's best qualities, praise feels more authentic when it comes from your customers. Using the six steps above can help generate powerful testimonials that accurately portray the products or services you provide and eventually lead to potential customers to choosing you.

The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
1–2 BrightLocal 
2019 Local Consumer Review Survey, November 2019. Survey of 1,005 US-based consumers.

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