Question: What would you suggest using if we do not have good testimonials or none at all?
Drew Cameron: It’s interesting in this day and age, the day of online reviews and whatnot that everyone is able to get, but maybe this is a smaller company and they don’t have testimonials. I would find out why, if you don’t have any, why don’t you have any? So ask yourself that question, or ask your people and ask your customers.
I imagine if you’ve been in business for any period of time, you’ve probably had someone say to you something complimentary. Why haven’t they memorialized a letter or a card or an online review or something? It’s probably cause you haven’t asked. The answer is always no unless you ask. But I would also ask your people: Do they hear good things from customers? And if they do, what have they heard? Try to find out what they have heard and who they’ve heard it from. And if they’ve heard good things from customers, go back to those customers and ask them if they could give you a testimonial. You can just kind of come out and ask people. If they’re happy with you and they’re satisfied with your work, they want to see you be successful. And having people share a great review and a great testimonial is how we maintain and stay in business. And people like to do business with people who know that the word-of-mouth of others recommends them to go do business with us. So if you could provide us with something, we’d greatly appreciate it.
I’d caution you against paying for reviews and testimonials. Maybe you give them an unsolicited five-dollar gift card to Starbucks or something like that, if they gave you a testimonial, just to say thank you for taking the time and going out of their way on a testimonial that they handwrite. I do not pay for reviews at all; I wouldn’t recommend that you do either.
The other way to get good testimonials is give them more value than anybody else offers and do more than anybody else thinks is reasonable out there. Then go out there and exceed the customer’s expectation, under-promise and over-deliver if you will. And then, with your service calls and your maintenance calls and your installations – and your installations really happen more so with your sales people first, and then your installation people, and then back to your sales people – what do I mean by that? On a service and maintenance call and on a sales call, I like to tell customers upfront, after we get through pleasantries and setting expectations for the visit, I like to tell customers that my measuring stick for success is not just that you’re so happy, but that we meet and exceed expectations that you’re so happy you would tell somebody else; that you could recommend our services to someone else. That’s the Disney measurement.
Walt Disney said, I believe it was back in 1947, and I’m going to paraphrase, that if we satisfy all our guests, surely we will fail. But if we satisfy them so much, to the point where they have to tell somebody else, we might just make it. And that’s how I approach business. I like to go above and beyond a customer’s expectations to the point that they’re going to say “I got more than he even said I was going to get, and then some, and I didn’t even expect to get some of those things,” including a happy call or a thank-you gift after the fact. I’m not going to tell the customer some of the things I’m going to do, I’m going to surprise them and exceed their expectations.
But one of the things I will tell them upfront is exactly that. My measuring stick is not that you’re so happy you’ll do business with us, but that you’ll give us a review, a glowing testimonial, and that you’ll happily refer us to your friends. And upon completion of my service or maintenance call or the installation, I will have my technician, the field people if you will, ask for that review, ask for that testimonial. And if they say something, I mean, just interview them, ask them a few questions: “What did you enjoy about today’s service?” and set them up. “Was there any area in which you think we could improve our level of service?” And you can do that in person, you can have happy calls done after the fact if you want. Some customers, if you ask them, and then say “would you mind writing that down?” Some customers will. I don’t think most will though.
So what I have done, I’ve made it a habit of doing, I say, “Listen if you don’t mind, based on what you’ve shared with me, I can transcribe what you said, send your comments back to you for your review, and if they meet with what you said, would you be OK signing off on that?” And I’ve never had a customer say no. So, in essence, you write the testimonial. Cause that way you make sure it covers everything you want to cover, says it in a way you want to say it, recaptures the spirit of the comments, and that way you’ve got a glowing review or testimonial, if you will. Now you can’t go ahead and do the online reviews for them. The online reviews, just ask for them at the end of the visit, I know Gary [Elekes] can talk a little bit about that too, because he’s got a business that does exactly that.
On a sales call, what I have my salespeople do, is I have them go back out after the job is done, about two or three weeks after the job is done, do a QC – a quality control check on the job – make sure the job is done up to our expectations, make sure the customer is happy, go out to the car, bring in the thank-you gift, completely unexpected, to customer. I like to give those folding chairs that are in a bag, they’re logoed up – those are nice and big and robust and they only cost me about $40 to get, logoed up – and I give them to the customer, cause they can use them at picnics and barbecues and going out to see soccer games and stuff like that, and I get a little bit of exposure that way, and it’s something they didn’t expect. And I’ll ask for that testimonial then.
And we’re doing things nowadays with our customers, where we’ll just pull out the iPhone or a GoPro camera and we’re doing like an audio or video testimonial recording, we can then transcribe that and get the letter. And now I’ve got audio, video – so I’ve got audio for television or radio, I’ve got video for television, radio or the website, I got a letter if I need a letter, I’ve got all three modalities covered there. So that’s the way we’re doing things nowadays.
Listen to the whole Ask the Experts call: Every week, EGIA offers two Ask the Experts conference calls to allow contractors to ask questions and get answers about the issues affecting their business right now.
This is the weekly Ask the Experts free excerpt. To listen to all of this week’s calls, or to see the schedule and register for future calls, click here.