Monday, September 24, 2012

Climb Higher with Customer Testimonials

Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012 by International Coach Federation

It's human nature to want credit for our accomplishments. When we've made someone happy, we want that person to shout it from a mountaintop. But in the small business world, getting a satisfied client to scale that proverbial mountain can be tricky, and if potential customers aren't listening nearby, praises may go unheard. So how can a coach be sure positive feedback reaches their market? Whether gathered through surveys, comment cards, or focus groups, reviews must be recognized, acted upon, and shared to lift your business to the uppermost peak. How can you use testimonials to reach the summit?

Listen and understand feedback.
Both positive and negative comments can lay a path to the top. Pay attention to compliments to gain an understanding of what's important to customers -- you may uncover a new marketable strength. Complaints and suggestions should be relayed into smart changes to better serve your clients. For example, customers may be seeking additional services or prefer a payment plan over one bill. Just remember, when you implement a change based on a customer's feedback, tell that person. Letting a client know you're listening is one of the best ways to secure loyalty for the long haul.

Make strategic adjustments.
Organize your reviews into three categories: calls for immediate action, modifications affecting this year's revenue, and long-term game-changers. After deciding on needed adjustments, test ideas against your budget and resources, talk to your regular clients to assess their reactions to changes, and establish measurable benchmarks to gauge your plan's success over a set period.

Share your strengths.
Word of mouth is a small business's lifeline, but rather than shouts of praise from a mountaintop, encourage conversations in locations where the right people will hear your message. Direct mailers should always include a page or two of diverse, persuasive comments from your clients. And with much of today's social networking concentrated online, the Internet also makes an ideal environment for planting reviews. Place concise and specific customer quotes in highly visible, well-trafficked spots on your website. Leverage your Facebook page by encouraging clients to "like" your business, then asking pointed questions (i.e., "In what way has my coaching been most helpful to you?") with your status updates to encourage positive comments on your wall. Establish a YouTube or Vimeo channel and post video testimonials of satisfied clients sharing their experiences. And brainstorm incentives to persuade dedicated patrons to post their feedback on city-specific directories, search engines, and review websites like Ask City, Angie's List, Yelp, Judy's Book, and -- you can even simplify the process by linking directly to your listing on these sites from your own webpage. Such personalized, credible reviews not only help generate real interest from prospective clients, but also help you climb higher in local search rankings and, ultimately, surmount the competition.

Christopher Wallace

Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom pens and other promotional items such as custom USB drives, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.


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