Customer testimonials: How to identify and collect the right ones

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When you decide where to eat, work, and travel, you’ll often use individual reviews to help guide your decision.

Prospects looking to buy software behave no differently. Software review sites, like Capterra and G2 Crowd, have amassed countless reviews across a variety of technologies to help consumers make an informed decision.

With customers across industries and backgrounds willing to speak of their experiences to eager and open-minded prospects, it’s in your organization’s best interest to use customer testimonials.

To ensure you get the most out of your customer testimonials, we’ll review how to define the quotes you’ll need and the ways to go about collecting them.

But to start, let’s review what customer testimonials are and why they’re so important in the first place.

Customer testimonials overview

Customer testimonials are statements from clients that discuss their positive experiences with your services—whether it’s related to the performance of your product or the quality of your customer support.

Allowing prospects to hear from your customers is enormously beneficial, both to prospects and your organization. Here are a few key benefits of customer testimonials:

1. Prospects value and trust them. 85% of people are willing to trust reviews from strangers as much as those from peers, and among B2B buyers, customer testimonials are valued as highly as any other form of content.

2. Reaches prospects when sales rep can’t. Want to sell your product? Sales reps typically have to wait until prospects feel “ready,” and only 19% are during the prospect’s early stages of evaluating vendors. By the time prospects speak to sales, 60% already have a short list of options they’re considering. To help your organization get on the shortlist early on, you’ll need customer testimonials to do some of the selling.

3. Drives demand from your target market. If prospects can see companies in a similar industry, size, region etc. experience benefits from your services, your testimonials will carry a lot more weight. It also helps signal to the market who the right—and wrong—fit for your product/service is.

4. Differentiates your business. Consumers can easily become overwhelmed by the number of competing brands in a given market. Especially when brands deliver claims and messages that overlap. Customer testimonials can be all it takes to help your organization stand out and gain a competitive edge.

Need customer case studies but don’t have the resources to create them yourself? Learn how TechValidate can help you get social proof at scale.

So customer testimonials are essential to your business—and to just about any business—but how do you decide on the ones you’ll need?

Define how your customer testimonials will help you

Identify the right customer testimonials by uncovering the specific types of clients and messages that would resonate with your target prospects the most.

Here are some questions that can point you in the right direction:

  • Which prospects is your organization hoping to attract?
  • What types of value propositions would resonate with these prospects?
  • How should the testimonials be delivered?

To help you understand how to work out the answers to these questions, let’s work through an example. Say you work at a company that sells paper to organizations around the world—think Dunder Mifflin from the Office:

You identify schools as your top customer segment. You then define the top reasons why schools would be interested in buying paper from you: Affordability, durability, and weight.

Lastly, you find that your prospective buyers at schools, the school administrators, research vendors through websites and prefer short, direct quotes.

Hoping to understand your target market better? SurveyMonkey Audience can help.

Based on all of this information, your company collects customer testimonials from other schools that mention cheap, durable, and light as the benefits of acquiring and using your paper. You then condense their testimonials and put them on different places on your website, ensuring they get read by prospects.

How to collect customer testimonials

Now that you know who you’re hoping to collect customer testimonials from and what you want them to say, let’s review the different ways to collect them—with the pros and cons for each approach:

1) Send customers a survey.

Pros:

  • Helps your business collect a variety of customer testimonials, quickly
  • Gives customers time to be thoughtful with their feedback
  • Allows customers a chance to also offer feedback for improving your product or service
  • Provides an opportunity to receive responses from customers you wouldn’t have expected to respond

Cons:

  • The quotes may be too short for what you’re hoping for
  • More impersonal than calling customer directly or sending them an individualized email
  • May need to use a survey incentive to drive enough responses

Pro-tip: Use an open-ended question to collect customer testimonials, and give the respondent some direction for what to talk about in the question prompt. For guidance, check out the open-ended questions on this template.

2) Film customers.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Time intensive to organize and produce a video
  • Isn’t scalable—more than likely, you won’t be able to film more than a handful of customers

Interested in filming your customers? See how we produced this video with our customer, Helix Sleep.

3) Interview customers.

This option shares many of the same pros and cons of producing a film. However, interviews are normally less time consuming to conduct but can lead to less desirable content to consume.

Whether organizations like it or not, customers will speak up about their experiences with prospects. To help your organization use customer feedback to your benefit, collect customer testimonials proactively. Just make sure you know what you’re looking for before you begin to collect them.

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