Turning happy clients into effective testimonials

Do you know how your clients feel about you?

No, not how they feel about the new website you designed, or the logo you just created for them — about you. About your services, your professionalism and your business?

Getting feedback from your clients on their experience of working with you can teach you a lot about the great parts or gaps in your process. It may highlight the areas of your business you need to improve or tell you that you need to communicate more or that your process isn’t exactly as clear as you thought it was.

As freelancers we should be constantly looking for ways to improve how we work, run our business and involve our clients. I shy away from comfort — to me, freelancing and running my own business is like sticking my hand in the lucky dip bucket and being both equally terrified and excited about what I might pull out.

It’s a road of challenges and surprises, but how we steer ourselves down that road, is up to us — even if it’s possibly hard to hear.

We should be open to change, as change can help propel us forward. But how will we know what should be changed and what shouldn’t, if we’re not getting feedback from those who we work closely with the most — our clients?

Why are testimonials important?

Client feedback at the best of times can be used as testimonials, which then can help generate more leads. Maybe you display some testimonials on your website, in your Getting Started Guide or in a Case Study.

You can picture it in your mind — a potential client comes to your website and browses through your past projects to see what your strengths are. Your work might be good, but there’s no indication of what you’re like to work with.

Then, they see a testimonial from your previous client that touches on the positive experience they had with you. Now they’re feeling a lot more confident about working with you. The likelihood they’ll enquire with you has just increased.

“Femke was good to work with”

Not only are testimonials regarded as honest and truthful, but a good testimonial will highlight the positives about working with you.

But getting a good testimonial can be difficult. Clients are busy and often will be short, brief and to the point. It’s not uncommon to get a testimonial that reads something along the lines of ‘Femke was good to work with’. While this is a nice piece of feedback, it doesn’t necessarily highlight any unique strengths or positives about you.

Instead of a client stating that you’re ‘good’, you want to encourage them to tell write whyyou’re good. What was it that made their experience of working with you so enjoyable? What were the good parts?

At The Apartment, we do this by asking the client a few questions to give them some thinking points. The questions aren’t there necessarily to be directly answered, but it at least gives the client some things to consider, and provides an easy starting point.

Let’s talk numbers, baby

Your clients are people who are running a business. People who are running a business like money. They like to hear real results from real projects — not just promises.

Client testimonials that focus on positive figures around growth, sales, acquisition, funnels etc., are things that are much more likely to get your prospective client reaching for their wallet. These types of metrics aren’t just applicable for digital design either. Maybe you’re a print designer — you want your clients to talk about how many magazines were sold. Or if you’re a writer, figures around number of reads, shares and maybe even conversions are good to encourage your clients to share.

People want social proof before they invest. How often do you go to a new restaurant these days without first checking it on Foursquare or Yelp? Choosing a new freelancer to work with is quickly turning into the same thing.

Clients have the internet at their fingertips. They can quickly find thousands of potential freelancers to work with, so why should they choose you? What’s your track record? What have people said about you? These are the kind of things that clients will be thinking about when they choose a freelancer.

If you can show from multiple past clients that you’ve delivered positive results, there’s nothing more convincing for a prospective client when it comes to considering whether you’re the right person for the project.

How do I get good testimonials?

Ask questions for quality rich feedback

Asking a client for a testimonial can quickly feel too formal or a little daunting. After all, you’re asking the client to write nice things about you which could feel a little sheepish to ask. Sending them an email with ‘Can you please write me a testimonial?’, is likely going to go straight to archive.

Instead, position it as feedback. Asking for feedback on how the project and experience went for the client, shows that you’re interested in learning and improving your services.

Asking questions about the project experience is a great way to collect golden nuggets that you can use for your testimonials. Not only that, but it’s a good starting point for the client and helps them gives them some things to consider. You don’t need to use everything the client says in your testimonial, but a lot of what you don’t use will be good for internal reference and improvement.

Types of questions to ask should be around their expectations, the delivery, your communication, professionalism and process, as well as their feelings towards the end result of the project.

If relevant, you can also ask for numbers. Have they seen an increase in traffic? Engagement? Sales?

Here are the questions we ask our clients at the end of a project:

Make it easy for the client

So how do you go about collecting that feedback? You could send it as just a plain email, but it’s not a great experience and means they’re less likely to actually fill it in with detail. Instead, we use a service like Typeform, which allows us to quickly create attractive forms that are easy to use, with interactive elements.

As you’re creating the survey and sending it to the client, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to reduce the friction to getting that testimonial as much as possible. Keep the survey short — less than 10 questions — and the email asking for a testimonial brief, friendly and professional.

You want to guide them through the questions and the experience of working with you, not tell them the answers or ask for specifics. Asking questions like “Would you hire me again” gets you to the bottom of how their experience was, and likely will offer up a targeted response you can use in a public testimonial.

Where to use client testimonials

You got feedback? Great! Now how do you use it? On your site of course. If the feedback is positive, you just got a great social proof of why you’re worth hiring so it’s worth taking the time to put it on your site.

At The Apartment we feature these on our homepage, in case studies, as part of our getting started guide and in other places. Basically anywhere you want to add a call to action for future customers you can use that quote as social proof of why you’re worth hiring.

If you don’t already have a case studies section or somewhere to place these, we encourage you to spend the time building one. It makes a world of difference showing off that you’re able to deliver on your promises, and it’s a badge of honor you should wear front-and-center on your site!

It’s important to get great testimonials for lots of reasons, and even more important to use those to help drive more sales in the future. If you aren’t using them yet, maybe today’s the time to start collecting some from past clients? If you are, we’d love to hear about how you had success gathering testimonials — tweet or email us!

This article first appeared on The Apartment. Sign up to our newsletter to get articles like this in your inbox.