By Andrew Angus on March 23, 2015

What Not to Do When Asking for a Customer Testimonial, Switch Video

Think about the last time you made an important purchase. It could have been a television, a laptop, or even a camping tent. I doubt you went into the decision blindly. During your research, customer reviews likely played a huge role in your decision to buy one product over another. The same is true for B2B transactions. With your company’s revenue on the line, you don’t want to leave any stone unturned in your search for the best solution. Hearing and evaluating past clients’ experiences is an important step in your buying process.

Testimonials are a vital piece of content for businesses. According to a survey from Zendesk cited by Marketing Land, 90 percent of people are influenced by positive online reviews. This is true for B2B companies too. In general, customers appear more trustworthy than companies do. Reviews from customers are simply more transparent and honest than most other marketing materials. After all, customers have little reason to lie about their experiences. But In the B2B world, there’s no Yelp or Amazon. So how do you earn good reviews? You have to ask for them.

The way you ask for a client testimonial says a lot about you. It can also make a big difference in whether they say yes. At Switch, we’ve received many such requests over the years and have seen some inconsiderate pitches and some awesome ones. What separates the good from the bad? Good requests are both mindful and demonstrate that the person making the request values our opinion. Bad requests are inconsiderate and lazy, making the company that sent them look bad.

Here’s what you should not do when asking for a testimonial:

1. Do Not Fail to Show Respect for Your Customer’s Time

A simple mention saying that you understand that the person is busy is key to getting a good response. Decision-makers, the people you want quotes from, have a lot on their plates. Make them feel respected and valued.

For example:

“I know you’re swamped as the year wraps up, but I wanted to run a quick ask by you or see if there’s someone in your org to whom we should reach out regarding this ask.”

Go the extra mile and offer them an “out” should they be too busy by giving them the option to suggest someone else who might be better suited to give the testimonial. Your contact isn’t necessarily the user, so keep that in mind. If the boss asks a more junior employee to write the testimonial, then it is very likely going to happen. Respecting the person’s time is key.

2. Do Not Ask at the Last Minute

You are sending out a press release the next day or even next week and you need the testimonial yesterday. This is the wrong time to ask. You’re putting pressure on your customer, and you also look disorganized and unprofessional. Asking for a testimonial is a time to solidify the relationship with the client, not to burn bridges as you run around at the last minute.

Include a reasonable timeline in your request and specify how the testimonial will be used.

For example:

“We’re hoping to get permission to put Switch Video’s logo on our customer page (www.infer.com/customers). We also have a press release coming out later this month, and it would be great to be able to reference your company, as well as include a quote if possible regarding your use of Infer.”

3. Do Not Make Them Do All the Work

Some customers will say sure, but may not have the time to write a testimonial. They also might not write the kind of testimonial you have in mind. Give the customer the option to ask for your help if they are too busy to write their own testimonial. You know the success they have had with your product, or at least you should. Use this knowledge. Suggest areas of your product or service you know are beneficial to them as a starting point. If they requested special services, ask them about how it was to work with your company on implementing those requests. Be ready to offer some samples or pointers but only if they request them.

For example: 

“We’re happy to send over sample quotes if that’s helpful.”

4. Do Not Pigeonhole Them

Don’t send them a fully fleshed out testimonial. That can feel controlling, and it will seriously offend some people. You may think you’re making the process easier for them by reducing the burden; and though this could be true, it also appears self-serving. Give the option for the conversation to go both ways, and respect the client enough to let them use their own words. If you just slap their logo on a canned quote, it can seem like you don’t actually value their opinion, just the opportunity to be associated with their brand.

5. Do Not Forget to Show Appreciation

Don’t forget to thank them. Even better, loop in other people in your company that will benefit from the testimonial. Show the customer that what they have shared is valued by your organization. A fast response from the CEO copying the sales and marketing leadership at your company will make the customer feel valued.

From the start you can cc: the leadership at your company on the request. This shows that it is a high priority and not going to get stuck under the rug somewhere.

Infer, a company that sells us services, sent us a customer testimonial request last december. We were blown away by their approach, hence the fact that we’re publishing this post. Here is the email they sent to me:

Andrew,

How to ask for testimonials the right way.I know you’re swamped as the year wraps up, but I wanted to run a quick ask by you or see if there’s someone in your org to whom we should reach out regarding this ask.

We’re hoping to get permission to put Switch Video’s logo on our customer page (www.infer.com/customers). We also have a press release coming out later this month, and it would be great to be able to reference your company, as well as include a quote if possible regarding your use of Infer.

We’re happy to send over sample quotes if that’s helpful.

Let me or Vik know if there are any questions or concerns.

Best,

Nikhil
Infer, Inc.

Needless to say, we ended up on their customer page. You can check it out here.

What’s the takeaway? Reaching out to a customer for a testimonial is a really delicate situation. In a relationship where the asking generally goes the other way, requesting a testimonial demonstrates real trust and respect. It shows the company really values your input and respects your business. Be sure to communicate these ideas in your message. Be respectful of the person’s time and allow them to make a choice about how involved they wish to be. Most of all, be appreciative. Their contribution is incredibly valuable for marketing initiatives, but so is their business partnership. Don’t overlook your current relationships because you’re chasing bigger fish.

 

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