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Client Testimonials 101 – Communication in Business


Client testimonials are an incredible way to get social proof for your business. Arguably it’s the best way.

I won’t go into the benefits of social proof in this article as I’m assuming as a business owner you know the importance of them (It’s the next best thing to word of mouth recommendation, which in turn drives sales).

Instead, I want to help you get client testimonials the right way.

If you’ve taken one of my online communication programmes you’ll know that I spend a fair bit of time discussing social proof. This article extracts some of the key learnings from my programme to help you start collecting testimonials straight away.

Because the reality for a lot of business owners – solo, small, medium or large business – collecting testimonials can be a block. Simply because people don’t ask for them or don’t know-howw.

Let’s get into smashing that block so you can start building strong social proof for your business.

You must collect the client testimonial

When we talk about communication in business, a big part is how to communicate the message from your clients. Specifically from a social proof perspective, how they love what you do and why. Ultimately we want to aim to get a five-star rating!

client testimonials
Aim to get that five-star rating!

When I teach people – how to get testimonials I always start with this fundamental list:

  • Ask for the testimonial
  • Don’t ever pay for testimonials
  • Aim for video first. Then written (where possible) – Have a look at my Communicating With Impact Programme Page, scroll to the bottom for examples of lots of video testimonials.
  • Don’t manufacture the testimonial, allow them to be authentic (from the client’s heart).

This fundamental list, can act as a checklist for when you collect customer testimonials. It doesn’t matter the business.

Ultimately it’s so important to get people who bought your product to share something about their story and their experience.

Because more and more these days people are going to Trust Pilot, Amazon, or wanting to see customer feedback on your website/product.

More often than not, customers will look at the variety of reviews as well – over different sites.

What are they looking for?

They want to see authentic reviews, people feeding back with genuine reviews or testimonials on the experience. 

When is the right time to ask for a Testimonial?

I get asked the question:

“When is the right time to ask the client for a testimonial?” 

I think first and foremost, don’t overthink it – simply ask.

The timing of when you ask is secondary to this fact.

For example, I’ve even had people who were selling a product and owning a coaching business say to their clients literally the minute they started, would you be prepared to do a testimonial? 

Remember, it’s completely OK to want your client to communicate an authentic message of their experience so far.

My personal belief is I want the person I’m working with – the client – to have had both a fantastic total experience and fantastic partial experience (eg. they’ve just started or received the product). In turn, this experience has led to a positive result.

If my business is designed to create fantastic experiences, I know more often than not, their experience will have been positive.

At which point I will have the confidence to ask them:

  • Would you be willing to give a testimonial?
  • Would you be willing to shoot a quick video talking about your positive experience so far?
  • Would you be prepared to write something or record something for my website?

It’s critical to capture this whilst they’re in that moment. Because in the moment, they’re loving – what you’re doing, the service, product. So whilst they’re in that emotional state that’s a great time to ask them. (If you wait too long till after their experience is over, their emotion state fizzles out and you lower the chance of you ever receiving a testimonial at all).

Remember, for a lot of people when they’re grateful, even if they’ve paid money and want to do something as a way of saying thank you. 

The law of reciprocation comes in here. As long as it’s authentic.

So just ask.

Whether you do it as:

  1. An email
  2. Directly over the phone
  3. WhatsApp message
  4. Other!

My key message here is – it’s really important to ask whilst they’re in that moment. 

Collecting client testimonials: What not to do

Don’t wait to ask

I have mentioned this above, but it’s worth re-iterating. In the past made the mistake of delaying asking for a testimonial. I used to run my earlier live events, and people were absolutely ecstatic with their experience.

People would have an amazing time. We as a team were still pumped from the events, and in the excitement, we’d forget to ASK. Then four, five weeks later I needed testimonials to help promote future events.

But at that point, I lost the moment. It’s not that people didn’t want to share their experiences. They just got back into everyday life and creating (video or written) a testimonial is lower on their priority list.

So it is important to grab the opportunity at that moment, and seize the day. 

Don’t pay people

The next not to do is – don’t pay people for testimonials. That however is my personal view.

I know some people will offer money or some kind of incentive.

I think if you want somebody to give a genuine authentic testimonial, then avoid the incentives.

So whenever somebody says:

I’m having a great experience, this has been incredible.”

I’ll say:

“Thank you so much for the feedback, I would be so grateful if you would be open to doing a testimonial of some kind, so I can share that message with my audience, clients and my customers.”

Again, grab the opportunity to ask.

What format should a testimonial be in?

Next, the big question is what format should my testimonial be in?

Video or written? 

There are different schools of thought on this, but based on the marketing data supplied by my team – the video should be your go-to format.

Video testimonials are relatable and contain a lot of information. More importantly, the person watching the video can get a very good feel for your product and service through the lease of how someone else is talking about it.

Everything comes into play here – faction expressions (smile), tonality (excited) and eyes (honesty).

Add to that, if you have a product, the customer could be doing a video walkthrough of your actual product and all the features they love.

So if you want the best kind of testimonial, go for video. 

I use them on:

  • Big stage events with thousands of people,
  • On our website
  • Product pages

The hidden advantage of video is its information density.

In simple terms you can pull a – video, image, audio and text – from that one testimonial.

So for example you can transcribe from audio to text. Then use those written extracts as headlines or even completely written testimonials. 

Always be authentic

The final important area to cover is – authenticity.

This ties nicely with – Just keep it simple.

For example, in order to keep it authentic and simple – I generally don’t tell them what to say. I just say to them:

“Feel free to share honestly, what your experience has been”.

Remember, you’re not giving them a script. Not telling them what to say.

On occasion, the customer really wants to give you an awesome testimonial and will ask you as a business owner – what you think they should talk about. In this scenario just help with an outline, guide or framework. But do not tell them what to say. 

Looping back to Authenticity and getting across what that means within the business.

This is a whole area of my communication system – in a nutshell, you want to be speaking to your customer in an honest way and vice versa.

For example, If they are sharing with you personally about their experience. Ask them to do the same thing but in the form of a video testimonial. To help them along, ask them to imagine themselves talking to you, or telling their friends about their great experience. 

In summary

Finally, with all these tips. It’s important to remember when asking for a client testimonial – It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but it must be authentic. 

And in the same breath, the video message your customer shares must also come from an honest place. It must feel to the listener or the viewer that it is authentic. 

At this stage, that’s what you need to know. Four really important tips that work well when getting client testimonials/reviews/references.

Remember – always ask. Ideally, ask for a video.

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