When you’re in business to provide a product or service (and aren’t we all?), your ultimate goal is to get customers to use that product or service. Without customers, there is no business, and without satisfied customers, your company doesn’t stay around long. It’s a great feeling when a customer makes it point to praise their interaction with you – let’s face it, we all love compliments. But beyond that, it’s important to treat such praise as valuable tools that can be used to your advantage. Sadly, many companies just stick a bunch of happy customer quotes on a page with the heading of “Our Customers” and then proceed to forget all about them.
In this day and age of cookie-cutter companies and “me, too” offerings, you have to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack. Here are some smart ways to use that fantastic feedback you’re getting in a way that will help bring better results to your business.
Company website: This is a no-brainer; your website is an important communications and selling tool for your company that is operational 24 hours a day. This is the place for entire sections devoted to customer satisfaction reports and case studies. But don’t stop there – use other locations, such as side bars and in the top banner sections of each page, for 1-2 line customer quotes. For example, on the page about your flagship product, include a customer quote on how that product made all the difference for their company. On your customer service tab, feature a customer quote that raves about your service. If you have a large number of statements that you can use, have a rolling feed of them on a side bar. This gives customers an easy way to read multiple perspectives about your company, increasing their likelihood to do business with you.
Marketing brochures: If you produce any kind of print brochure, catalog or handout that is given to potential customers as they browse your store, kiosk or tradeshow booth, then you’re missing a big opportunity if these handouts don’t include a brief customer testimonial. Think about it – people come in, browse around, take some information with them and then repeat. Company after company. Then they get home, sort through a huge pile of information and try to remember it all. Those companies that stand out have the best chance of being remembered. And including a third-party testimonial is a powerful tool because it’s someone other than you doing the talking.
Autobot responders: Most companies send an automatic email response whenever someone signs up online for regular notifications, newsletters or blog posts. In addition to the usual “welcome” message, include a short customer testimonial at the end to reinforce to the new subscriber that they’ve made a smart decision to get more information about your company.
Small business consumer review websites: People love to complain when something doesn’t go right, and sites like Yelp contain plenty of vitriol from cranky people expecting the impossible. But these sites are also good sources of positive feedback from customers, and the really good thing here is that there is no question that it’s the customer’s own words, and not some corporation-produced and customer-sanctioned statement. Encourage your customers to post their satisfaction with your product or service, and remember to thank them when they do!
Print and email newsletters: The main purpose for these materials is to inform and update your subscribers about the latest developments within your company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t devote a small section to “customer of the month” or something similar. People get tired of “me-me-me” email all the time, so change it up and share a success story.
Promotional products: Most giveaways and tchotchkes don’t include the space for long quotes or testimonials, but there’s usually room somewhere for a line or two. These items are great for promoting any customer awards you may have won, such as “Rated #1 Foreign-Car Specialists by the Anytown Times 2005-2012″ or other similar kudos.
Receipts and invoices: The empty space at the bottom of a receipt or invoice is also a great location for listing customer-related awards that you’ve won or featuring a short quote from a valued customer.
Speaker references: For large events and conventions, it’s common to provide information on a speaker and the company they represent prior to the actual speech. If someone from your company has been honored to speak at such an event, include a brief customer testimonial with the background data.
The point of all this is two-fold: first, you’re making potential customers feel good about selecting your particular product or service. Second, you’re reinforcing to new and existing customers that they’ve made a wise choice. There’s a lot of negative information out there, a lot of it one-sided and erroneous. Positive customer testimonials and feedback are powerful tools that you can and should use at every opportunity to help present a well-rounded picture of your company from those who matter most: your customers.
Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized pens and other promotional products such as imprinted apparel, mugs and customized calendars. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.
Image by planetc1 via Creative Commons