By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC
Inspired by Thursday Process with guest Gavin Garbutt, Augmentt
Client Experience plus Client Testimonials – Create Raving Fans
A consistent theme amongst my conversation with entrepreneurs is the need for differentiation in today’s business environment. Leaders are focused on ensuring that their company “stands out” in crowed marketplaces and have a fanatical focus on making sure that their value propositions are clear, easily understood, and resonate with their target audience. A tactic that stands far and away from the rest of the “marketing toolbox” is that of the client testimonial. People love hearing success stories and “checking references” before committing to a course of action. They want to know what it’s like to work with you, your team, and your organization before they “buy” from you.
The not-so-obvious solution is to create such an experience for your clients that they provide these client testimonials unprompted and unscripted, in rooms of their colleagues and peers, generating referrals that you didn’t have to farm for. Read on for a strategy you can utilize in your business today to help create these “raving fans” from your clients while soliciting testimonials.
Why Collect Client Testimonials
The Client Testimonial is a favorite of marketing agencies. Spend a bunch of time, money, and effort to put clients in front of a video camera, record hours of footage, distill those hours into 30 second to 2-minute clips, and then provide them back to you to hopefully utilize effectively in marketing strategy.
At the risk of making quite a few marketing agencies upset, I’m going to say something direct and unpopular:
Stop doing that.
Don’t spend the time and money doing high-end video testimonials. You likely will not get many “views” of them, and the dollars spent will not return sales.
Instead, refocus your efforts on testimonials to feedback solicitation on how your team is doing on product and service delivery, and ask for a simple reference quote instead when appropriate.
An example will drive this home:
Have the person responsible for management of the client account reach out to their point of contact after a project has been completed. “Hi John – I wanted to get 10 minutes to review the recent project we completed and get your take on how the experience went, when can we set that up?” Set up a fast phone call and ask the following three questions:
- Do you feel that the project achieved its objectives on the timeline we agreed to?
- Do you feel that you and your team were kept up to date on status, barriers, and milestones?
- Was there anything that you feel could have gone better?
At the end of that conversation, if the client has delivered positive responses, ask the following “Thanks so much for the feedback, John. One last question – Would you be willing to fill out a quick recommendation on LinkedIn around your experience with our company? It would really help me out when I speak to organizations like yours about coming on board with our team.”
You now will have your testimonial, along with priceless feedback on the experience for your team, all for nothing more than a phone call.
Make your Client Testimonials Visible
Once you collect information about your client’s experience and their recommendations, put these into a standard format. You can use a multitude of tools and mediums for ease of consumption, including:
- Recommendation Quotes on your website (A feedback carousel, gallery, or other mechanism works great to deliver these)
- Case Studies about specific projects (Use the feedback your clients gave, along with a pull quote from their recommendation, to highlight the impact your team had on their business along with the positive experience they had. GET PERMISSION TO USE THEIR FEEDBACK)
- Examples of success on your services page(s). Stitching a few client quotes into your service page is a great way to lend authenticity around the impact into that content. (Again, get permission before doing so)
- Client Logos along with pull quotes on a portfolio page. Link back to your clients and SEO optimize the page so you show up when someone searches for their business to maximize the impact.
A note on this – Sometimes I hear feedback that “advertising who you work with invites competitors to call on your clients.” I hope this isn’t too bad of a shock, but your competition is calling you clients regardless of whether you use them to help you land business or not, so you may as well gain some benefit.
Create Raving Fans through Client Experience
From my conversation with Gavin Garbutt, Co-Founder of Augmentt, a SaaS monitoring and policy management tool, I had a lot of take aways. One of the key items was not necessarily an action, but instead a question. There is immense value and power in a well-timed question that is relevant and provokes thoughtful consideration and responses.
“What would you like to do to fundamentally improve your business?”
Gavin shared one of the key questions they utilized at N-Able with their clients, which was “What would you like to do to fundamentally improve your business?”
This question is a fantastic one when it comes to setting the stage for creating raving fans. By asking this question, along with his follow up of “How can we help you achieve that,” Gavin and his team set the stage to learn what their clients truly care about. Too often, I find that entrepreneurs (myself included) will assume they know the priorities of their client base versus asking the source directly.
By validating any assumptions and having insight into what your clients are focused on, you simply need to align your services and efforts along those initiatives to create massive value. A vendor, supplier, or partner that delivers massive value cannot help but convert clients into “raving fans”, which sets the stage for unprompted referrals, testimonials, and other actions performed by your client base – which is far and away the most effective marketing tool you could ever hope for – and one you cannot buy.
Add these questions into your process for collecting testimonials from your clients to help focus and fine-tune your customer experience efforts.
Customer experience is a hard code to crack. You must have the right team, with the right focus, supported by the right processes and documentation, measured by the right KPIs and metrics, with the right communication techniques to have a prayer of doing “good” product or service delivery. In today’s marketplace, buyers are far more educated, engaged, and skeptical than ever before. It is difficult at best to convince someone of your “uniqueness” in a crowded field of competition – but that difficulty can be overcome with the effective use of client testimonials and “raving fans.”
If you’re struggling with customer experience, figuring out how to collect customer feedback, or getting alignment with your team on the need to invest in the effort, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.
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