11 May 2007 ~ 9 Comments

How to Not Get a Testimonial…

howie_keys_2.jpgYesterday was one of those days. You know, the multiple Excedrin days that begin far too early in the AM, talking about far too serious things before the coffee’s set in… and extending way too far into the evening.

We’ve all been there.

As business owners, these are not the customers we’re typically looking for. Picture the Comcast phone rep who answers the phone when this person comes home to no digital TV service during the big game, or the Amtrak phone rep who has to explain why the Friday train service is running four hours delayed–again.

These experiences start off behind the proverbial 8 ball before they ever get going. They’re also experiences where the right attitude, great energy, and a good listener who actually communicates relevant information (i.e., delightful service) can generate oodles and oodles of positive Word of Mouth, and rivers of referral revenue.

On my way home from the office last night, I discovered something curiously missing from my laptop bag–my car keys. I hadn’t actually driven to the office, because the car was blocked in by an age-old Brooklyn tradition of double parking during street cleaning. (Don’t ask, really, it’s a topic for another blog 😉 .)

Somewhere between the coffee shop, the cab, and the office, the single set of car keys we own were gone. Oops. Long story short, AAA to the rescue! They’ve heard this song-and-dance before, and without judgment (something the Ms. can’t claim this AM), they found a 24-hour automotive locksmith, setup the appointment, got him to call us on a cell phone when he was in the neighborhood so we didn’t have to wait in the rain, AND kicked in $50 off the outrageous-stupidity-fee the locksmith charges to boot. AMAZING.

They were with us all the way, calling on several occasions to check the status of the locksmith and to make sure we were delighted once the service was rendered.

I’d happily take the time to write a letter exclaiming my adulation for all things AAA and end with a strong Call to Action urging people not to wait until they’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire in the snow; rather, to sign up today while their car is still running strong. I’d send an email they could use as a testimonial, I’d even talk to the rep’s superior and share my delight… if they’d only ask.

Why are we so afraid to ask for our customers to share their wonderful stories? Are we afraid they may tell us mostly good news, with some sprinkles of less positive mixed in? Great. Too bad we can’t fix what we don’t know.

Are we afraid people only do what they’re incentivized to do? True, to an extent, but don’t underestimate the power of the Delight Factor. Ask for feedback. Facilitate sharing among customers. Embrace the transparency of today’s environment. And run, don’t walk, to your nearest AAA website and sign-up for a year of their service!! You won’t regret it.

9 Responses to “How to Not Get a Testimonial…”

  1. Terrill Fischer 12 May 2007 at 1:04 pm Permalink

    It took me a long while to figure this out and I still struggle with it. I learned that the best time to ask for a testimonial and a referral is when you have done something as you say to “Delight” the customer. If you have helped them solve a big problem or relieved them of some pain or just made them feel better, that is time to ASK because you’ll get some very powerful emotional responses and FANS.

  2. Cade 13 May 2007 at 5:09 am Permalink

    I think successful marketing only happens when you are open and not imaging a pie in the sky as how your business operates. There are always weaknesses and ways to improve and as you said the only to truly understand what those are and how to improve it is to get a customer response. Great post.

  3. Caricature King 14 May 2007 at 5:51 am Permalink

    At CaricatureKing.com, we ALWAYS ask. Its part of the satisfaction thing.
    Its simple, in the email we send the finished caricature/s we write:

    “Your feedback testimonial is welcomed by the artist”

    This simple act has a flood of feedback happening and plenty of words to put on the website from satisfied customers!

  4. Elizabeth 14 May 2007 at 11:28 am Permalink

    Our current testimonials are getting stale and your story encouraged me to write to all our staff here to get new testimonials from all our advertisers. In fact, to make the job easier, I am going to create a feedback form for all our live remote broadcasts so they can be handed out to the customer to be filled out and sent back in. You are so right in that you can’t be afraid of the less positive remarks. Thanks!

  5. Tom Grimes 14 May 2007 at 11:59 am Permalink

    Wait isn’t what your wrote above that letter of testimony for AAA?

  6. Mike thiel 14 May 2007 at 2:53 pm Permalink

    Well before online became the thing in travel or there was ever a TripAdvisor, we have always follow-up on trips we have planned for our members (the Hideaways Aficionado Club) with a detailed questionaire that solicits comments on how our agents handled member’s travel planning and their reaction to the places we sent them (structured questionnaire for each place or experience, even car rentals), plus room to write general comments. Since the advent of the internet we send these by both snail mail and e-mail after customers return from their trips. You would be amazed at the valuable inputs we get from members. Some even write extra pages long-hand. These prove not only valuable for feedback on our services and the places we recommend but provide testimonials for marketing materials and content for our community e- and print newsletters(Hideaways Life). We share the comments about destinations and hotels/resorts on our web site and in a Members Forum section in Hideaways Life. The ratings on our services we database and monitor. Luckily (or hopefully skillfully) the ratings our travel agents get range from 4 – 5 out of 5 and so do the ratings of the places (carefully chosen) where we send people. But it is the comments that are most valuable.

  7. Caricature King 15 May 2007 at 12:40 am Permalink

    Just thinking on this some more – one reason businesses do not ask for testimonials is because they are afraid they may get complaints! Of course a complaint is merely a suggestion in disguise! It is an important but significant emotional hump for many business owners to get over.

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