Five Ways to Solicit Customer Testimonials That Will Drive More Revenue

Whether you market for a digital agency or a fast food chain, customer reviews can seriously impact your company’s future business prospects. In a 2013 survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of respondents said positive online reviews affect their buying decisions; 85% said the same of negative reviews.

But take note: If your company is planning to solicit customer testimonials, you will want to exercise a bit of caution and common sense. Many review sites strongly discourage the practice of offering incentives – or forbid it – in order to prevent undue influence on the quality of reviews. So if you use these sites to collect feedback, check guidelines carefully in order to steer clear of trouble. Yelp, for example, advises against offering incentives or even asking customers for reviews, and actively weeds out “suspicious” reviews.

The Federal Trade Commission also has guidelines covering “endorsements” you’ll want to read before implementing an incentive program – their guidelines state that if you intend to use customer testimonials in advertising, or provide incentives to celebrity endorsers or bloggers, certain information must be disclosed up-front.

Last but not least, if your company offers incentives, it’s a good idea to make it clear that you’re seeking honest feedback from your customers or clients – that the reward stands whether you get a good review or a bad one. For one thing, if you don’t get honest feedback, you won’t know where you have room for improvement. And for another, today’s savvy web-surfers can sniff out disingenuousness from a mile away – which can ultimately work against you.

Now that you’ve read all the caveats, here are some tactics for getting your customers to provide your company with good, honest feedback:

1. Sweepstakes or Contests

This is a common way businesses solicit customer testimonials. For every review a customer submits, they receive one entry in a drawing for cash or prizes. Print the entry information on your customer’s receipt or invoice, and be sure to have staff encourage submissions.

2. Discounts or Coupons

Discounts are another great way to encourage reviews. Direct your customers to an online survey on their receipt or on your website or social media pages, and once completed, provide them with a discount code or coupon for future services.

3. Publicity

Who doesn’t want their 15 minutes of fame? This is especially effective for B2B customers seeking publicity for their own business – providing a testimonial with a photo and a link back to their business is a great way to create a win-win situation. Be cautious if there were any potential issues with your company’s service – they are, after all, putting their name and professional integrity on the line. For retail and other B2C customers, consider a video testimonial – the odds are high your happy customer will be excited to send the link to friends so they can check it out, as well.

4. Swaps

This is another effective win-win tactic for B2B customers. If you had a successful exchange of services and everyone walked away happy, offer to write a testimonial and ask if your colleagues will do the same.

5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn provides a great mechanism for you to solicit customer testimonials, especially for creative agencies and similar B2B businesses. Ask your client if they’d be willing write a recommendation for your company, and once they’ve completed it, ask for permission to use it on your website.

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