Why Hire a Company to Produce Your Customer Testimonials?
If you want to produce excellent customer testimonials on a consistent basis, outsource the process to an agency that specializes in customer testimonials.
Agencies that specialize in this line of work bring skills that most companies don’t possess in-house. More importantly, an agency brings a certain amount of distance between themselves and your customers that you will never be able to reproduce.
Being too close to your customers can hinder both the process and the product of an otherwise sound customer testimonial program.
Customers Control the Testimonial Relationship
If you’re lucky, your customers will agree to provide you with a testimonial out of a sense of gratitude for the products and/or services you provide to them. It’s much more likely, however, that they will agree to the testimonial as a favor to you.
Presumably, you have a good relationship with your customers and they appreciate the work you do for them, but it’s unlikely that providing you with a testimonial is high on their list of priorities. Plus, even though you may have written it into their contract, the decision to provide a testimonial is ultimately the customer’s.
You need the testimonial. They may or may not provide it to you. They’re in charge.
Turning Appreciation into Obligation
Once a customer is sufficiently satisfied for you to ask them to provide a testimonial, and they agree to participate, you’ve only just begun what can be a very long and frustrating process of getting that customer to actually give you that testimonial.
Schedules must be arranged. Resources must be secured. Time passes, and satisfaction and urgency rise and fall.
An outside agency that can coordinate with customers to ensure testimonials get delivered on can make a big difference, at this stage.
Speed and Distance Can Make All the Difference
You’ll produce more quality testimonials if you strike while the iron is hot. A good agency will move quickly and is less likely to get distracted by your next product release, your annual user group meeting, or the Thanksgiving holiday. If they want to get paid, they’re going to produce the testimonials they’ve agreed to produce.
They’re also in a much better position to deflect your customers’ attempts to renegotiate the testimonial you’ve asked them to do, in order to gain some leverage over you as a provider.
You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever heard things like this from your customers:
“You know, that last upgrade wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. Let’s wait to see how well you do on the next upgrade before I agree to go forward with that testimonial.”
“I was really hoping that so-and-so feature we requested would be in the last release. We’ll be in a much better position to give you a positive review, once that feature is in the product.”
As the company you’ve hired to produce testimonials for you, I don’t care about that last upgrade or the so-and-so feature. And, your customers know it.
Now, if the customer in question is really dissatisfied with your work all of a sudden, they’ll say no, but there’s no leverage to be gained by asking me to postpone my work for something that I know nothing about. It seems petty to involve a third party in a discussion that does not apply to them.
I can tell you that we’re much better at moving our clients’ customers through the process than I ever was as a software marketing executive trying to get our software customers to take the next step.
Testimonials Work Best as Part of a Broader
The best way to assure that your customer testimonials are never written or filmed is to treat them as a one-off novelty. It’s one thing to get the wheels in motion, it’s another thing to have to figure out what wheels you need every time you decide to produce a testimonial.
That’s why companies that produce testimonials as part of a broader satisfaction program produce better testimonials more quickly, less expensively, and more consistently.
I’ve written about this before. The decision to produce a customer testimonial should be triggered by a customer crossing some sort of satisfaction threshold. Whether you use Net Promoter Scoring or some other method for determining customer satisfaction, that method should set the wheels in motion every time that threshold is crossed.
The process should be made as efficient as much as possible.
There are a lot of moving parts that contribute to a good testimonial. They take time to produce, especially if you’re creating a video testimonial.
If every time you decide to produce a customer testimonial you have to find the right resources, you will produce fewer testimonials, and those testimonials will be of a lower quality.
Find the Right Agency to Help You with Customer Testimonials
Much depends on whether you’re producing written testimonials or video testimonials. The latter adds a few additional steps, so the process is even more important.
Choose an agency that does a lot of testimonial work.
A lot goes into creating a good testimonial, and it’s not the sort of thing that should be left to a junior marketing person. The agency you choose should be able to discuss their methodology with you, assure you of their ability to work with your customers, and show you samples of their past work.
Hire an agency that will work with your customers to get the testimonials they’ve agreed to provide.
Once you have a firm agreement from a customer to sit for a testimonial, tell them that your agency will take it from there, and call your agency right away.
You’ll want an agency that can make first contact within a day or so, while the bloom of satisfaction is still at its highest.
The agency you select should be able to handle the data collection part of the process without any further handholding from you.
(I mean, what’s the point of hiring an agency if they can’t take work off your shoulders?)
The longer you work with your agency, the more work they should be able to take on, and the better your testimonials will be.
Work with an agency that can properly prepare your customers to participate in the testimonial process.
This is especially important if you’re producing video testimonials. You’ll want an agency that can put your customers at ease in front of the camera, and get the very best performance from them.
Finally, involve your agency in your broader satisfaction program as much as possible.
Both of you will benefit from knowing when customers are likely to cross the threshold into testimonial territory.