Updated: May 20, 2022
Why Are We So Weird About Client Testimonials?
I don’t care if you started in business at the age of twelve, you probably have a lot more experience as a customer than as a service provider. So you know firsthand the power of a good client testimonial.
Client testimonials make browsing customers feel confident. They make people feel better about giving out their email or opening up their wallet. Basically, they pull us all off the fence. We can stop browsing. Now we can commit.
In fact, in 2020 a Brightlocal Consumer Survey said that 94% of people are more likely to use a business because of good client reviews. 94%?! That’s practically like saying “Everyone.”
But it makes total sense. Nothing makes you feel safer than reading the words of a satisfied client. It’s the closest thing you get to a crystal ball when considering a purchase.
So why are some of us so weird about getting client testimonials?
I’m not sure if it’s the fear of hearing what people really think or if it’s just the discomfort of asking for a compliment. But for some reason, a lot of us would rather die than ask for a simple endorsement.
This is SUCH a mistake.
Assuming that you do work you’re proud of - not asking for client testimonials is a great way to miss out on some seriously juicy and low-hanging fruit.
A lot of your clients are just aaaaaaaching to talk about their terrific experience with you.
And the ripple effect from that testimonial could be the difference between finding your ideal clients and disappearing into the freelance wilderness.
Besides, client testimonials are just a nice thing to do! If you’re truly offering help to folks who need it, a well-placed testimonial can make them feel braver about reaching out to you.
So let’s not be weenies about all this. Let’s just get started.
But wait - how do you even get client testimonials? I mean, without making a client feel weird, badgered, or used.
It’s actually pretty easy. It just takes a minute of intention and authenticity. A few well-asked questions. A little bit of tact and creativity...okay now I’m making it sound hard.
Let’s go back to easy. Below is a checklist of 5 things to do/consider when putting together your testimonial page.
Each one is pretty straightforward and totally in your power. So come on...get ‘er done.
1. Who to Ask
Okay, first things first - if you’re just starting out you might be tempted to wallpaper the universe with asks for client testimonials. But not all clients are created equal. So, when making your list of asks, include only the clients you’d want to work with again - ideal clients.
Getting ideal clients isn’t just the luck of the draw. You need to speak to them through your online messaging. Client testimonials are a terrific way to do that.
Build a trail of reviews from your most beloved and successful clients. You’ll attract more of the same.
Awesome potential clients will be able to see their own values, struggles, and future reflected back in the testimonials they read on your site. And they’ll understand that you’re the person for them.
That being said, ask clients who represent a variety within your niche - different genders, issues, points of view. A little variety will make your client testimonials more compelling to go through. And it’ll give a clear picture of your depth and scope.
2. Check Your Desk for Client Testimonials
Are you still squirming about asking? I know. Asking for a client testimonial can feel gross. Like your walking around with a flashing “Tell me I’m wonderful!” sign over your head.
Hang in there, because you probably have some testimonials already. They’re archived on your phone or stuck somewhere in a drawer. Yuh-huh!
Think about it:
Have you ever gotten a thank you note from a client?
Did you pin up a grateful email on the bulletin board for inspiration?
Have you got a voicemail on your phone - one from a giddy client - that you just can’t delete?
And what about all those shout-outs on Social?
These are your client testimonials.
They’re right there, waiting for the harvest. Don’t just frame them on the fridge for smiles. Use them to get your new clients.
Ask the sender’s permission before publishing them - but definitely use them!
These inadvertent testimonials can ring out the loudest on a testimonial page. They brim with gratitude and bubble with honest enthusiasm. They’re more precious than gold. Use. Them.
3. Ask the Right Questions
When you’re asking for client testimonials, you have to put yourself in their place.
No one likes homework. And that’s exactly what it feels like when you say, “Can you give me a testimonial?”
You’re asking for an essay when you say it like that. Yuck.
Not only is that a horrible ask, but even if the client says yes they’re going to feel totally burdened. They’ll put it off...indefinitely.
You’ll have to nag them to get it back - if you get it at all. Yuck again.
However. People loooooove talking about themselves.
So ask questions.
Don’t ask yes or no questions, or “how satisfied were you with....?” Ask open-ended questions. Think of starting a conversation, not getting an answer.
Ask questions that bring up a before and after memory. As in, “What prompted you to try my service?” And “ How is your life, work, your relationship, your habits - whatever - different now that we’ve worked together?”
Ask questions that could answer the potential objections for someone browsing your client testimonials. Like “What concerns did you have beforehand? And how did those concerns get resolved?” “Was it worth the cost?” is a big one.
Just sit down and consider what the person visiting your site needs to know before they reach out to you. What would they ask your ideal clients if they could? Then ask the question for them.
4. Easy Peasy Client Testimonials: Remove All Friction
I once filled out - or started to fill out - a survey for an oil change place. It involved a link, then a special code, then I had to assign a star rating, then fill out essay questions. I think there was a complicated CAPTCHA puzzle too.
Applying to college was easier.
Needless to say, I never finished it. They offered me some free gift if I did. The only gift I wanted was the last 30 minutes of my life back.
The point is, when you’re getting client testimonials, remove every speck of friction in the process. Make the whole thing quick, simple, pleasant.
I guess you can use an app or some platform for collecting client testimonials, but I kind of think the easiest way is to send an email. I mean, pressing “Reply” is the most friction-free process in the world.
Set clear expectations in the email. This takes the pressure out of the equation.
Give them a rough idea of how long it should take. Keep the number of questions below 7, even fewer is good. And number your questions so that they don’t have to search through the body to find them.
Above all, tell them not to fuss over it too much. That’s always a relief.
Make the process barely feel like a process at all. You’ll get a lot more responses.
5. Be Tactful
I’m an open book. I spill my guts to anyone who wants to see them. But when asking for client testimonials, I try to put tact first.
Look, not everyone likes to have their issues spelled out for the world. Especially if you’re in a field that involves more delicate or private struggles - relationships, money, addiction.
You might have perfectly wonderful clients who are reticent to speak too frankly about working with you. When approaching these folks - really everyone - for client testimonials, be sure to consider their situation and style.
Let them know that their comfort level is the priority. But also let them know that their experience can be helpful to others who have the same struggles and goals. A client testimonial can be their quiet way to anonymously mentor people like them.
Tell them that names and particulars can easily be changed and left out. Stats aren’t as important in client testimonials as capturing their honest experience.
In the end, if you sense resistance - let it go. Don’t bug them. Just thank them for being awesome and move on.
What to Do About Bad Feedback
So, let’s say you get your answers back from a client. There’s a lot of praise, but you’re surprised to find some less than marvelous feedback sandwiched in. Hm. Ouch. You didn’t see that coming.
I know it might not feel like it, but this is kind of the best-case scenario.
The ability to use negative feedback is what separates the superstars from the fly-by-nights. Take a moment to absorb and engage with it.
Especially if it’s from a client you value, this kind of client testimonial is likely a sign of respect from someone who sees your potential. Hear them. Weigh the feedback. See if it helps you become a better service provider.
It might sting now, but remember that client feedback isn’t all about public-facing accolades. It’s also about refining your mission and process. You’re on a path and they just handed you a clue about your next turn. Just thank them. It’s a gift.
The Pleasure of Thanks
I don’t know about you, but I love saying thank you.
I love telling people how good they are at their job, whether it’s by applauding at the end of a show or sticking a buck into a tip jar. Telling someone “way to go” for most people is as much a pleasure to say as to hear.
So when you ask for your client testimonials...remember you’re offering that moment to them. You don’t need to feel weird about that.
In asking for their feedback you’re letting your client know how much you value their opinion. You’re giving them a chance to evaluate how far they’ve come. And you’re offering them a role in your impactful work.
That’s what we call an “Everybody Wins” situation.
Ready for your rebound? We talk all about FINDING clients in my free coaching hour, Brave Biz Lab.