What Do Your Customers Say About You?

What is the importance of how customers view us, and more importantly, what they say about us?  By no means is this a revolutionary insight into how successful businesses manage their client relationships, but what might be a bit more telling is how we nurture this aspect in managing our businesses and proactively ensuring we take advantage of this.

Often, we as organizations and managers want to tell our story. With pride we extol the virtues of our various strengths and accomplishments. How best to convince potential customers that we can deliver solutions to their business challenges? Surely our credibility is supported by our lists of clients, industry segments served, vendor relationships and the ever popular partners. While all of this is good business practice, and particularly in today’s web-world a necessity, it’s only part of the picture.

One of the most effective strategies you can use to promote your brand is through the use of client testimonials. If there were a “believability” chart, and there just might be, I’m sure this would be right up there. Having a well worded case study followed up with the client comments is far more impactful than a well scripted self-proclamation.

Selling, or better stated, promoting the customer’s experience through their words will resonate with your clientele. Even if it isn’t the same industry segment or business challenge, you still will benefit from that reference. Client Stories is one of the headlines I saw recently on a website and I felt it was a clever variant from the standard “testimonial” heading for a potential client to “click”.  Most clients will welcome the chance to promote their brand at the same time they promote your company’s exemplary service.

One of the challenges will be if the client is willing to participate but unsure how he/she should word the reference or structure their comments. You can help them with this. In my view, it’s not shameful self-promotion to offer to write the comments for them to approve, keeping in mind that accuracy is very important, as is the wording, to ensure you promote the client equally. A key here is the comments should reflect the client’s opinions and are genuine. One of the common terms I use is to “humanize” the content. Capturing this client experience in a timely manner is important. Keep in mind fresh content is a key attribute to your website’s SEO efforts.

The importance of client testimonials applies to all forms, be it peer to peer, business to business or business to consumer. Some may remember Victor Kiam famously for Remington and his “I liked the shaver so much I bought the company” (business to consumer). That approach fueled consumer confidence in Remington and led to tremendous success. He didn’t approach it with technical advantages or competitive pricing or any of the usual selling rational, but simply humanized his message.

Interestingly, he was a forerunner in what today is the mass adoption of YouTube, allowing you to connect in a more personal way. Whether you choose to convey your clients’ testimonials in written or video form, or both, sharing your clients’ stories is a powerful message.

We often hear phrases like “corporate reputation” or “corporate brand” and the undisputed value of  “word of mouth”. Certainly news articles or even publications will always be key contributors to a positive reputation, but what your customers say about you is even more powerful. So if you know your clients value your work and have benefited from your efforts, then let them tell their story.

Gord Forbes
Managing Principal – Alberta

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