I’m sure we’d all agree that testimonials are nifty.
A well-positioned testimonial on a portfolio piece can be the thing that “seals the deal” and gets a prospect to contact you.
And having a bunch of great testimonials on your homepage – especially if they’re by people that your prospect recognizes – makes a huge difference in establishing trust.
But beyond simply being nifty, I’d argue that testimonials are so dang useful that any time you don’t get one from a client, you’re leaving a big opportunity on the table.
If you struggle to get testimonials from all of your clients (or at least over 80 or 90% of them), this post is for you.
I used to struggle to consistently get testimonials from clients, and it would trigger my imposter syndrome.
“Maybe the reason they’re not giving me a testimonial is because they actually hate their website and I suck as a web designer and also as a person.”– Unconfident Past Zach
But in truth, the problem was the way I was asking.
(I’m sure some of the problem was actually due to client dissatisfaction, as I spent my early years prioritizing finishing projects quickly vs. doing the best job I possibly could, but a lot of it was still due to the way I was asking.)
These days, I’m able to get a testimonial from every client I work with.
🎯 What you’ll leave this post with
» The exact word-for-word script I use for getting testimonials from every client
» The understanding behind why I wrote it the way I did, so that you can be empowered to customize it and make it your own
How I get testimonials from every client I work with
The trick is making it super easy for them to do.
If you ask a client something like, “would you be willing to write me a testimonial,” that feels like a “Task.” (with a capital “T.”)
Something they have to set aside time on their schedule for.
And given that many business owners are spending most of their time putting out urgent fires… “writing a testimonial for my web designer” can get endlessly pushed to the bottom of the list.
Here’s the exact script I use to make it easy & simple for them…
My exact script for requesting testimonials:
“Hey Clientname, if you had a good experience working with me, would you be willing to send me ~two sentences about your experience that I can use as a testimonial? And if you have critical feedback on how I could have done better, I’d love to hear that too.”^ My script for requesting testimonials
I work with my clients in Slack, so usually I’ll just send this as a message in Slack once we’ve launched the site (or are just about to launch) and their excitement is highest + the project is fresh in their mind.
💡 Other idea
If you spend a lot of time with your clients on the phone, an alternative to a text message could be asking them on a phone call if they have a “few words to say about their experience working with you.”
Takes notes as they respond, and after they’ve finished singing their praises about you, ask if they’re cool with you using what they said as a testimonial.
(They’ll likely always say yes.)
If so, just [loosely] transcribe the quote and then use it. (Or get their approval on it first, depending on how much wordsmithing you did.)
⚠️ NOTE: Depending on their personality type (and how you phrase the request), this may feel uncomfortable for them and like they’re being “put on the spot.”
It may be that they’d rather be able to collect their thoughts first and type it out. You’d need to gauge that for yourself.
In my experience though, I’ve found that if I’m informal about it and I’m just asking them how their experience was, most people sort of naturally give a testimonial without even specifically meaning to.
The script, explained
Here are the key thought processes behind my script so that you fundamentally understand it…
1. “Two sentences” is specific and small.
By giving them a very specific and easy amount of stuff to write, it vanquishes the “Task” feeling that causes writing the testimonial to get added to a to-do list for later, and moves it into the category of “something easy to respond to right on the spot.”
2. Long-ass testimonials are a pain to read anyway
When I’m skimming some service provider’s website, I have to be pretty committed to read a super-long testimonial.
In my opinion, long testimonials are a better fit for case study pages, where someone’s diving deep and reading a lot about a process.
The way I see it, the main benefit of testimonials on your homepage or on a portfolio piece is as social proof with some easy-to-see highlights.
(Ideally next to a picture of the client’s face to show that they’re a real human. Bonus points if the client is a leader in their niche whose face your website visitor recognizes.)
3. Specifying that it’s going to be used as a testimonial cues them to break up the feedback they send
If you vaguely ask your client, “how was your experience working with me,” they don’t necessarily know that you’re angling for something to use as a testimonial.
They might think you’re just asking in general, and reply with a mish-mash of positives, negatives, and random comments about your children/cats/AI robot projects that you treat as if they’re your children, keeping yourself blind to the fact that some day – probably soon – they will kill you and everyone you love and take over the earth.
Anyway… by specifically indicating that you want to use their feedback as a testimonial, they’re likely to stick to the positives and write it in a way that it’d be a good testimonial to display on your site.
(Assuming, of course, that you did a kickass job and they did enjoy working with you. 🙂)
4. Welcoming critical feedback encourages honesty in both parts
If you presuppose that the client had an awesome experience and there was nothing you could have done better, it might put them in a difficult position when writing a testimonial for you.
They don’t want to damage your business, but they don’t want to pretend everything was hunky-dory when it actually wasn’t.
By asking specifically and separately for a testimonial and critical feedback, it gives the client the space to privately share their concerns with you, while still writing a publicly-complimentary testimonial.
I know it’s not always easy to hear critical feedback. And if you’re not very good with criticism, you might be hesitant to literally invite it.
But the thing to remember is that your client’s problem exists whether you hear about it or not.
You can either hear about it and use the information to get better + avoid making the same mistake with future clients, or you can not hear about it and have it potentially be the thing that keeps you from getting lucky referrals.
If you can get good at being able to hear critical feedback and see it just as “something this specific person didn’t like about this specific thing, that might be worth considering tweaking,” vs. “this means I suck as a person,” it will be super beneficial for your business. (And life.)
💡 Bonus tip
Along the lines of what I mentioned in the “getting testimonials on the phone” idea earlier, here’s a lil bonus tip for ya…
Always be on the lookout for clients, partners, etc. saying nice things about you, and when they do, respond with something like:
“Awesome, so glad to hear that! Do you mind if I use that as a testimonial?”
(Assuming it’s contextually appropriate to respond that way, of course.)
This will result in you always having plenty of testimonials to showcase alongside any public-facing offer you might create.
👟 Action Steps
1. Customize the template & make it your own.
2. Add asking for a testimonial to your project completion SOP to make sure you always remember to do it!
(If you don’t use SOPs for your projects, or you think yours needs work, it might be beneficial for you to check out my Notion project template to get some ideas)
3. When you receive a testimonial, save it in a place you can easily find later.
The way I usually save ’em out is as a standalone word document in the root of the client’s folder called “Testimonial for me.”
4. As always, if you enjoyed this post, I appreciate shares with friends, social media, etc., and be sure to join the newsletter to get new posts like this straight to your inbox.
5. Extra credit: if you dig my blog in general, you could even send me an email with two sentences about how what you’ve learned here has helped you, for me to use as a testimonial. 😋
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