4 Questions You Can Use To Get Great Testimonials & Reviews

Written by Sarah Peck

You do amazing work for a client, and then you don’t hear anything back.

Did they like your work? Was it good enough? Are they telling your friends about it?

We want the answers to be yes, yes, and yes. But even after you’ve created great work for a client, and they’re beyond happy with you and your work, how do you get them to provide a testimonial or a review?

Turning clients who love your work into clients who will publicly talk about your work can be a challenge. Most people don’t leave reviews by nature, but they do read them. It turns out you need to help your clients learn how to write great reviews, just like you’ve helped them with so many other things.

Here’s how to help your clients write great reviews.

Doing great work and building a great reputation is the foundation. But is that enough to get a great testimonial for your work? Not exactly.

Business owners forget that it can be hard for clients to write great testimonials. Doing great work is the prerequisite. Coaching your clients to describe why it’s great to work with you is the essential next step. Sometimes it can be hard to articulate what worked so well, especially if the process is invisible or seamless. As a longtime copywriter and communications consultant, words come readily to me, but not necessarily to my clients (because that was my job).

In other circumstances, the nature of the work can make it challenging for people to share easily. Think, for example, of a financial consultant that helps people get out of bad money situations or a divorce coach that helps people navigate the process of separation: not everyone wants to broadcast to the world their financial or relationship troubles.

So how do you get great testimonials? Here’s the process I use.

I guide clients through a process of four questions to help them frame and articulate a great testimonial. A great testimonial talks about the nature of the work, the type of change (a before and after), who you’re for, and why working together was so good.

Rather than emailing your clients with a blank page, which is terrifying to most people, use the framework below with four essential questions.

Asking for the testimonial

When you ask your clients for a testimonial, prime the pump. Remind them of what you worked on together and why you appreciated the time together. Tell them you’d like them to write a short testimonial and that you have a process that you appreciate using. Also, if your work is sensitive in nature, be sure to tell them that testimonials can be anonymized if they prefer.

Here’s a script you can steal:

Hi there,

I’ve loved working with you and have been so appreciative of how well {project} and {results} have gone. One of the things that helps explain what I do to new potential clients is words from people like you. If you’re comfortable, I’d love to ask you for a testimonial about my work. If you’re a yes, I’ll send over 4 questions for you and you can always do an anonymous testimonial, if that’s easier to do.



Remember to separate testimonials from feedback

At some point in your work process, there should be an opportunity for feedback. This is separate from the testimonial. The purpose of a testimonial is to share the highlights of what you’ve done together and explain what it’s like to work with you to other potential clients. The purpose of feedback is private, constructive criticism to help you continue to grow and improve as a creator or consultant.

Question 1: What did you appreciate most about working together?

Begin by clarifying that you’re looking for positive feedback. I use this question to focus on what the best part of working together was. An alternative phrasing can be “What did you love most about working together?”

Question 2: How would you explain our work or process to someone who is thinking of doing it?

This is the piece that’s missing from most testimonials. What, exactly, do we do together? “Working with Sarah was great!” doesn’t do a lot for the prospective client who might, for example, be looking to join one of my mastermind programs. By asking clients to explain the process of working together and what the program is like, I can see how they think about the world and how they’d describe our work together.

This question is doubly useful because it also provides me with language to describe my work. Like anyone, I can get in a rut on my sales page. Having people describe what I do is eye-opening and reveals what they think about the process. As a result, you get a chance to see how they think about the work you did together.

Some people will answer this question with a nuts-and-bolts description of the tactics, tools, or structure of the program.“This format worked really well for me because it provided structured times to pose and answer important questions” or “The mastermind is a structure of group calls, 1:1 coaching, and a shared community space for conversation, that people chat in each week.” People want to know exactly what they’re getting, and this is also useful language to have on hand.

Question 3: What was your biggest “aha” moment during the process? How did you feel that you transformed or changed as a result?

Every business owner is in the business of making change. We seek to transform our clients and customers through useful products, services, and tools that help them live or work differently. This third question gets at the heart of change. What change happened for them, and what did it look like? Why was it so powerful?

Marie Forleo, for example, sells a program called The Copy Cure, a copywriting class designed to help people write more persuasively. She lists three testimonials on the homepage of the site, and two of them demonstrate an answer to the question, “How will I change if I take this program?” Here’s one example:

“I was never happy with what I wrote. My hyper-critical self judgement paralyzed me. The Copy Cure brought me back down to earth and showed me that who I am and how I write is just fine. To be myself IS the way to write.”

This testimonial shows a “before” (the hypercritical) transformed to an “after” emotional experience (relief).

Question 4: Who is this work perfect for? Would you describe that person?

This is a chance to see how your current clients would describe your target audience, and to see with fresh eyes the audience that you’re trying to reach.

People want to know if they’re the right fit for your program or work. Nothing drives me more nuts than asking someone, “Who is this for?” and having them say “Oh, anyone can take it!” That is essentially a non-answer. Instead, the more specific you can be, the better.

For example:

“We’re for entrepreneurial moms who are going through pregnancy and the transformation to parenting.” — The Startup Pregnant website

“Coaching is a great fit for anyone who feels like they are at an important juncture/pivot point in their life, who needs support and inspiration, who is looking for clarity.” — Someone looking for a career coach.

One final question you can use that always works

At the end, I offer an open question: “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” and then I double-check that it’s okay to use their name and website in the testimonial (with an option to remain anonymous).

Use these four questions to get better testimonials about your work.

What methods or strategies do you have for collecting great user feedback and testimonials? Send me a note on Twitter and share your best tips.

Want more stories of inspiring female founders in life and work? Check out The Startup Pregnant Podcast. Follow us as @sarahkpeck and @startuppregnant on Twitter. Sarah K Peck is a writer, entrepreneur, and yoga teacher based in New York City.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

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