Customer testimonials are one of the best ways to generate new business. Some 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% say positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business, according to the Local Consumer Review Survey.
But many small business owners are unsure of how to go about getting customers to express their praise. Even most happy customers won’t think to spontaneously provide testimonials. Mark Faust, founder of Echelon Management, has developed an approach to snagging testimonials more easily by taking a page from business guru Peter Drucker — the depth interview.
A depth interview is a loosely structured interview, where both the interviewer and interviewee have flexibility to change direction and explore different points. For market researchers, depth interviews are usually coupled with quantitative research to add insight into people’s behaviors, attitudes the perceptions.
It is basically an open-ended approach to exploring how customers feel. A sample depth interview is provided in Drucker’s book The Five Most Important Questions Self Assessment Tool.
“This has always been a required part of Peter Drucker’s strategy process, but few companies do it,” Faust says. “You must talk to a representation of customers every quarter. You ask about what they are most happy about and where there are opportunities.”
Questions to Ask
Faust approaches customers by saying: “We’re making some calls as part of our innovation and service improvement initiative, and I’d just like to ask you about how things are going in the areas we work together on and what you’d like to see in the future.”
Among the questions to ask:
- What are you most impressed with from what our competitors or the alternatives are offering? (Then just listen, as they usually will meander toward what the competitors could improve.)
- What would you most like to see us innovate or improve and, specifically, what new service or product offerings would help you grow your business and improve the results of what you do?
- How could we help you to grow or improve your business?
- Ending on a good note, “What have we done that has most impressed or surprised you?”
Faust says “most of my depth interviews revolve around ‘the good, the bad and the new…and the difference between the new.” By that, he means if the areas of concern were improved, finding out what would it be worth to the customer.
During the depth interview process, Faust always get some great testimonials from customers, but then he rephrases their accolades in better wording and asks them to monetize the value of the benefits. That’s key; tying a number to praise makes the comment pop.
After the customers read his version, their response is often, “Wow, you said it better than I did, but that is exactly right!” Faust then asks: “Well, can my client use you as a reference? I doubt you’ll ever get a phone call, but you might. Would you be willing to say the same thing to their prospects?”
Then he adds the customer’s cell phone and sometimes email to a sheet with a dozen such testimonials. “That one sheet of testimonials, built around a top area of concern, often becomes one of the top selling tools for the organization,” he says.
The Four Benefits
Faust says he has never conducted initial depth interviews for clients with revenues over $20 million and not found over $1 million in new business. Here is what happens by following this process:
1. Existing customers are illuminated about the benefits and monetized value they did not realize you delivered.
2. They are resold on your business.
3. They inform you of wanted benefits you may have missed.
4. They are primed to provide referrals.
And, of course, they provide testimonials that will make even more companies want to do business with you.
For more tips, visit; https://sparkbusinessiq.com