[The Things You Hear] Reviews and Testimonials

how to collect testimonials for small business

The online marketplace for artists has become quite competitive.  It seems more people have been tapping into their creative passions and working to share with a wider audience.  

While each artist is unique in their story, design process, finished product, and their connection to potential buyers, sometimes you may seek to have an additional advantage separating you from others in your niche.  

Testimonials and reviews can be the slight edge needed as a tipping point between a potential customer and a verified buyer.  Learning how to secure positive testimonials and use them properly on your website and social media will reflect positively on you and your brand.

A testimonial helps to provide social proof that others have purchased your product.  More importantly, it gives prospective buyers the reassurance they can trust you.

What are testimonials

Quite simply, testimonials are the personal recommendations others give about you, your service, or the product you offer.  This feedback from actual customers and clients is their words telling others what they liked about a particular product or what they loved about your service.  

what are testimonials

Full, rich testimonials and reviews can become the hardest working employees in your business helping to persuade other potential clients to invest in you and your offerings.  You probably know from your own experience when shopping online, say on Amazon or Etsy for example, the reviews would be the next thing you would look at helping you to make a final decision between similar products.

Why do they matter to your business

Solid successful businesses are built on the Know, Like, and Trust factor.  A testimonial helps to provide social proof that others have purchased your product.  More importantly, it gives prospective buyers the reassurance they can trust you.  

You can say as much as you like about your products, but you’re biased (and, to be honest, if you aren’t running around telling others why your business is great, you may want to rethink your offerings).  Testimonials and reviews give validity to what you are doing from a third party who may not necessarily benefit from your next sale.  

It’s a wonderful opportunity for a potential buyer to hear from someone else that they should click the “add to cart” button and complete the checkout process.

How to get a review

So now you want (and need!) testimonials on your website.  But how do you go about securing them?  It can be a scary thought for some cultures to reach out and ask others for their opinion.  Changing your mindset around this can be a challenge, but it is well worth working through.  In the meantime, there are some methods to ask for feedback without feeling icky or concerned you are harassing your former customers.  

You can ask for reviews on your Facebook business page, via an email reply, or through a survey form which you created.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but in effect all provide value.

Facebook Reviews 

Your business page on Facebook has public settings, meaning anyone can see the content on there.  The reviews left are attached to the writer’s profile allowing anyone to see what he or she has commented.  While most people don’t mind telling others about their purchases, if your business is selling something personal or risque, understand that your customers may not want their friends and family to know such intimate details about their lives and habits. Still, direct them that way and ask for a review if it feels right. 

Facebook has a button that allows customers to leave a star rating and a comment on why they think you’re fab. It’s a simple process for a high value review.

Via Email

Set up your workflow to reach out to customers about two weeks after their purchase or completion of your service.

Ask them to respond with their thoughts to you by simply responding to your email.  

An additional benefit to this is building an ongoing relationship with your customers.  You are assuring them you weren’t just there for the sale, but you are genuinely interested in ensuring they have a good product and service experience.  The fact that you care enough to check in will bring you top of mind once again and may renew conversations with their friends and family about your business.

Survey Forms

There are many free services which allow you to create forms online.  I love Typeform and I use it often, but other services include Google Forms and Survey Monkey. Once you create your form, you are able to coordinate it with your branding so customers remember the visual aspect of your business.

A benefit of using a survey form is to allow the user anonymity.  This can lead to particularly honest constructive criticism which can help you grow and improve as a business.  It may sting a little to hear feedback like your communication was impersonal or lacking or your product was not as described, but this valuable information allows you to adjust where needed so you can avoid such reactions in the future.  And build stronger relationships – which is key.

What Questions to Ask

I’ve included a set of questions to ask to solicit strong testimonials full of rich details from your customers.  While a testimonial that simply reads, “Everything was great!” is nice, it doesn’t really provide value to you or your potential customers.

When using an online form system, there is an option to elaborate on the questions in a description field.  This is helpful in guiding your responder to provide additional details.

For the purpose of this example, I’m going to talk about a fictitious coffee mug (or tea! there’s no discrimination here).

questions to ask when you need testimonials and reviews1. Tell me about your experience

I love this question!  Open-ended and free-form it allows the writer to go all-in with their response providing as much information as they like.  Guide them to share with you exactly what’s on their mind asking them to include what they bought and what they thought about it, and asking them to write as much as they want.   This question is key and absolutely essential so be sure to mark it as a “required” response. The other questions in the survey will help you to get a deeper and richer understanding.

(Include in the question description: what you bought and tell us about what you thought. write as much as you want. All other questions in this survey build on this question.)

2. What did you buy/what service did you purchase?

This allows you to have a reference point of what your customer may have purchased. If you choose to, you may format your survey form to allow for a multiple choice option to make it easier for your responder.

3. Why did you buy this product/service?

This question helps to tap into any pain point may have been trying to solve.  You can choose to include a description to prompt them to explain why they chose this product or service in particular.  Using my mug example, I literally have dozens of coffee mugs, but I still continue to purchase them!  Recently I purchased one with a snarky saying on the front because it made me smile and accurately depicted my mood some days. You can prompt your customers by giving an example like this.

This type of question can provide you with more of an idea of what your customers may be looking for when purchase, and it also helps other potential clients who are reading it to identify with it

4. How did you feel when you received the product/service?

Ask for more information about how they actually liked it and what problem it solved?  You could use multiple choice answers here or simply leave the question open to the customer’s text. E.g.  The mug was extra thick and heavy and I knew my coffee wouldn’t cool off too quickly as it was a bit taller rather than wide.  The generous oversized shape was great for wrapping my hands around it and warming up on a cold Ontario morning. These are the type of answers you’re looking to tap into.

5. What did you love about the experience?

Go deeper into what the process was like, allowing them to expand on ideas like correspondence and customer service.  Details here will provide you more insight into what you are doing and the differences it makes to the person experiencing it.  Stellar reviews here will give your audience a reason to go to you over competitors.  I loved that the seller of my mug took the time to include a handwritten note inside the box with my purchase and a few chocolate candies.  Because – chocolate!  

questions to ask when you need testimonials and reviews

6.This product/service helped me by…

Alternative: The three best features of this product/service are…

These two questions go together allowing you to gain more insight into the benefits your product or service provided going above the features.  Here you can tap into your customer’s emotions. Remember emotions are the key to marketing successfully, so you definitely want your survey to expand here.

You can use one or both questions in your survey.

7. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?

It’s always wonderful to hear someone would recommend your service to a friend but you really want to know why you are recommended and to who. Behind the scenes, it can help you further define your target audience and marketing niche, but from a public side, this strong social proof is so key in testimonials and reviews.

8. How did you overcome any obstacles to buying this service/product?

Knowing what barriers your customer had to overcome helps you erase them for future folks.  As a bonus you can blend this into your perfected testimonial in case others are experiencing the same block or hesitation (more on this later!).

9. We’d like to use your name when we share your testimonial. Please write it below.

(If your name is John Smith we will attribute the quote to John S. / If you would rather we don’t use your name leave this segment blank)

I’ve touched on this a bit above, but you always want to ask permission before using someone’s name.  They may be choosing to keep their review anonymous for a couple reasons: one because they choose not to have friends and family know what they are purchasing or two, because they are choosing to provide feedback about a less than great experience and may feel badly about telling you where you missed a step.  You do want credited feedback though as it will help your business grow.

You may also choose to ask for an email address.  This would be a key way to invite someone to be on your mailing list.  Also, you can respond with a coupon code for 10% off a future purchase as a way to thank them for their time in providing feedback.

How to use testimonials

As you receive responses to your emails and surveys, you can choose to copy and paste each segment into a Google Document so you can see at a glance what you are doing well in your business and what areas you may choose to improve or enhance.  

The smaller segments can be used to create images through a program such as Canva and used for social media sharing on Facebook or Instagram.  It’s a quick visual insight to browsing customers why you stand above your competition.  

You may also edit the form so it flows nicely, reworking bits to be complete sentences and developing a rich full-on testimonial to be used on your website.  

This step can take some getting used to when you are just starting to see testimonials from your clients.  I would suggest reaching back a few months if you have retained their contact information.  Having testimonials and reviews provide incredible validity to your work, excellent feedback on your processes, and social proof for your potential clients.  

Wanna see some examples? Of course you do….

Hannah TestimonialHannah Taylor Johnson Testimonial Hannah Taylor Johnson Testimonial

What do you think?

What scary feelings do you have to battle to get insightful feedback?

why do you need testimonials and reviews in a creative business?