I have been pretty impressed at the sheer quality of the testimonials generated by the retail arm of DSM over the last few weeks. So, I decided to write a blog post encapsulating 5 steps any business can take to receive killer testimonials.
Step 1 – It all starts with a great product or service. Obviously. So the real question is: what can you do to improve your products or services? Here are a few things we try to do religiously: attend trade shows, ask customers for feedback, read industry-relevant publications, continually and consistently analyze our service procedures so that we are pro-actively looking for ways to improve.
Step 2 – Expectation is everything. So set, manage, and meet expectations well and you are bound to have happy customers. Think about it this way – if a customer hopes an item will arrive by the 10th, but they do not expect it to arrive until the 15th (because you have told them that is when they can expect delivery), they will be happy if the item arrives anytime before the 15th. They will be ecstatic if it arrives by the 10th.
Step 3 – Perform, perform, and then perform some more. The early bird really does get the worm. If you are doing business on the Internet… you are in a race… all of the time. I cannot tell you the number of times I have “won” someone’s business simply by being the first to call or email them back. Unfortunately, I have also “lost” the race a few times, only to be told “somebody else beat you to it. Sorry, but I have already purchased elsewhere.”
Step 4 – Treat each customer like he/she is your only customer. Little things go a long way. Return a phone call after business hours. Send a follow up email. Sweeten the pot. In general, look for ways to make each customer feel like they are important. I think some people call this “good old fashioned customer service” ;).
Step 5 – Ask for the sale. Ask for the testimonial. At the end of the day there are a lot of things you will not get without coming right out and asking for. I will never forget the day I sold a memory foam mattress to a “Professor of Marketing” at a local University. The woman was extremely friendly and we probably spoke for 20 minutes. She had asked good questions, I gave great answers, and I was just waiting for her to say, “I would like to buy.” And then it dawned on me that I needed to ask for the sale. Her response surprised me, “sold, and it is all because you asked for my business. I have talked to three other companies today and not one of them asked for my business…” The same principle applies in gathering testimonials. If you want someone to spend their time talking up your product, many times all you need to do is ask them to do so.
Any business that is conscientiously looking to incorporate these 5 steps into their business model will find that the testimonials will start “flowing like the salmon of Capistrano.” – Quote from Dumb and Dumber 1994.