Congratulations on your first customer. I bet you feel like a BOSS, right? Delivered on time, under budget, and the client can’t stop talking about what a great job you did!
Now that the checks are cashed, the project is closed and prospecting has picked up, I bet in the back of your mind you are just waiting for that rave review to come across your inbox. You can just imagine that 5-star, Engadget-editorial style article talking about how amazing your service was showing up at any moment.
Of course! That client LOVED your work… they will make sure you are taken care of with a great testimonial. Before you know it, your client list will be booked all year!
We will be reading about your success on the esteemed Legiit Success Blog, right?
Well, in most cases, the client won’t do a damn thing… unless…
You ask them!
Yup, it’s that easy! Break out the tl;dr right now, and just skip past the rest of this article, because all you had to do was ask.
But, I know you are a smart business owner, and you see that this article is much longer than this intro leads on. Yes, there are some pitfalls to just “asking”.
Let’s dive into some simple things you can do to remove that awkward feeling of asking for another favor. Some will be wordsmithing, and others will be the use of tools.
Let’s get one thing straight about this article: to help you get the testimonial out of the client. I will go over ways to make it easier for you to ask for the testimonial, as well as how to use each tool at your disposal.
But, we also want to get a testimonial with a much higher probability that it will be a good testimonial, not a negative one.
There will be some creativity needed on your part, however, you can use the concepts here to make it your own. After all, you know the client better than I do, right? So, please use the examples, but word them to make them custom to your business.
But, let’s start by showing you how to avoid a landmine when asking a client for a testimonial.
Ever eat out at a restaurant, and have an average experience? I don’t mean bad, but just average. The staff was slow to attend to the refills, the steak was over-cooked a bit, but you didn’t say anything.
You know, an average experience, but nothing to get excited about. You probably wouldn’t leave a bad review or testimonial, however, if the owner shouted “Be sure to leave us a great review!” it may upset you enough to leave a bad one!
Never assume they think you were great. Sometimes there are people who are hard to please. That being said, here are some things to AVOID:
What NOT to say: “Can you give me a testimonial?”
Why it doesn’t work: This is an obvious, direct question that will likely make them feel uncomfortable and put on the spot. A better option would be to ask if they have had a positive experience with the company.
What NOT to say: “Do you have anything good to say about us?”
Why it doesn’t work: This assumes they will only have positive things to say. It’s possible that someone experienced a negative outcome, but that is still important feedback for the business. Instead, ask them what their experience was like – both positive and negative aspects are valuable!
What NOT to say: “I know you had a great time with us, can you leave me a testimonial?”
Why it doesn’t work: This is another obvious and straightforward question that will make them feel uncomfortable. You don’t want the customer to just spout out what they think you want to hear, so instead ask them what they thought of the situation and their experience with your company.
What NOT to say: “Can you write a testimonial for us?”
Why it doesn’t work: Asking someone to do something on your behalf can come across as pushy and leave them feeling uneasy. Instead, ask if they wouldn’t mind writing one – this leaves the door open for them to decline.
So now that you can see how not to ask for a testimonial, how would you phrase basically the same thing to get the client to feel comfortable leaving a testimonial?
Here are some examples of wording to use to ease the feeling for not only your client but you as well.
What DOES work: “We are always looking for positive feedback from our customers. Is there anything you would like to say about your experience working with us? If so, you can leave us a review on Google or Yelp.”
Why it works: This is a more general question that allows their response to be whatever they deem necessary. Offer the customer a couple of options for where to leave feedback so that you can keep track, especially if they are more active on one site than another. It is also less pushy and makes it clear that you are looking for any kind of feedback – negative or positive!
What DOES work: “We are always looking for positive feedback from our customers. Is there anything you would like to say about your experience working with us?”
Why it works: This phrasing gives them the option of writing a review without making any assumptions as to what their response will be. In turn, they feel more comfortable and have the choice in deciding whether or not they want to provide any feedback.
What DOES work: “Is there anything that really stood out to you about your experience with us?”
Why it works: This phrasing is open-ended and will give them more space to respond. They can choose what they want to comment on, which allows them the chance to follow up with any questions or requests. Asking them to choose their favorite aspect of the experience is also a good way to get some feedback without pressuring them.
Again, these are generic examples, however, you can see the structure and the idea is to never assume their experience was great, and never pressure them to do so. Let’s talk about how to deliver these requests!
PS: check out this post about staying motivated while you are hustling!
If your business collects the client’s contact information, an email will be the easiest way to request testimonials. When using email requests, it is very low-pressure, and it gives the client the ability to choose without feeling like there is any obligation.
Just like in the examples above, be very unassuming. The subject line will be the first victory, so you want to be sure they know what they are about to open.
Here are some subject line examples you can use – but make them your own of course!
- Your Experience with ACME Rocket Co.
- ACME Rocket Co. Would Love to Hear from You
- A Small Favor to ask, Jim…
- About Your ACME Rocket Co. Order
Subject lines are your first 2-3 seconds of defense before the email is ignored or deleted, so you have to make their eyes hold for just a moment.
For the rest of the email, you will want to follow suit with the examples of what works above. However, with email, you have other options.
For example, instead of leading them to a testimonial, you could ask them for a quick survey. In that survey, you could ask if they are willing to leave a testimonial.
Email is one of the best ways to ask for testimonials because you can track if they opened, clicked, or even perform the task. This allows you to follow up with them over a period of weeks. But do NOT send too many. Remember: we do not want to be a pest.
This method is more an art form than anything. Much like sales, you have to be able to read the conversation, body language as well as be in the proper flow to ask.
But do not worry, it is very natural to ask in person, especially when closing the project or sale.
Just use the samples of what works above to conclude with the client. Here is an example:
“Mr. Hendrix, did we meet or exceed your expectations today?” – (if they say yes, yeah, or of course) – “Ok, if you don’t mind, our system will send you an automated email in a couple of days asking about your experience, does that work for you?”
See, this is a sly trick – your email will ask. However, you are still ‘asking’ in person, so they are prepared for that email. Your subject lines will be more effective this way.
Here is a direct way to ask in person, without being awkward, the same customer:
“Mr. Henrix, I enjoyed working on your project. Thank you for the opportunity. Our company prides our work on our customer feedback. Would you be open to sharing your experience with us to others?”
Once they give a positive answer, proceed with your email campaign again to get them to leave the testimonial.
Sometimes testimonials are right under our noses and we don’t even see them. If you are looking for new testimonials to add to a website or about us page, consider scanning for your fans on social media.
Scan through your posts where someone may have given a positive comment or even posted about your business or service.
Think about it, if someone is willing to give great feedback in public, they may be willing to either let you share it out or give an even more detailed testimonial. How do you ask them? Easy.
“Mrs. Butterworth, thanks for the shoutout on THEBESTSOCIALAPP, we appreciate the support. Would you be open to providing the same feedback on our website/Google/Legiit Profile as well?”
As you can see, it should be no big deal to ask. If they say no (or ignore you) you still have the feedback they posted publicly and could screenshot that to add to your site.
ProTip: If a client leaves feedback on a non-social media platform, SHARE their feedback ON your social media platforms, and if possible tag the person or their place of business. Be sure to thank them for being a great client as well as thank them for the testimonial.
If you find that hunting for these posts can get time-consuming, consider looking into hiring virtual assistants.
As a freelancer, you are probably selling services on a lot of platforms that offer automated methods to get testimonials. That’s great!!
By letting systems like Legiit manage and gather the testimonials, you can see who loves your work and is willing to tell everyone.
Using these systems, be sure to share your reviews and testimonials on your social media profiles as well as your website. When you do share, ask your audience this broad question:
“We love hearing feedback from our loyal clients! Would anyone want to share their experiences as well?” — then give them an easy way to do so. You’d be surprised how well “social proof” works, and makes other clients feel compelled to do the same for you.
Sometimes we will get a client that may not leave a perfect testimonial. That is OK. In any business, you will get some reviews that are not so favorable.
When this happens, DO NOT PANIC. Instead, be calm and respond with compassion and be professional. This is, after all, a public conversation. By remaining professional and offering to make the ‘wrong’ right, your future clients will respect that.
I hope you learned a valuable nugget or two in this article. As you can see, it comes down to simple human behavior: Never assume anything, and keep things “low pressure”.
By wording the questions properly, and setting the expectation by email, you will see that asking (and getting) the testimonials will be easier and easier as you do them.
Since the world lives and dies by testimonials, it’s best to hone this skillset so your business thrives through whatever comes next.