There’s a reason why businesses of all kinds use customer testimonials on their websites and social channels, and why practices should follow suit (if they don’t already):
- More Revenue: According to Ecommerce Marketing, the regular use of customer testimonials can help companies generate roughly 62% more revenue from every customer, every visit.
- Demand: According to BrightLocal, 93% of local consumers use testimonials to determine whether they want to do business with a company, and according to Spiegel Research Center, nearly 95% of shoppers read online testimonials before spending money.
- Effectiveness: According to Social Fresh, customer testimonials have an 89% effectiveness rating.
Why is there such a demand by people for customer testimonials and why are they so effective?
People today are highly skeptical of advertising, celebrity endorsements, influencers, or any communications that only offer claims and ask for blind faith in accepting them as truth. As an example, a 2019 Hubspot study revealed that only 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy.
When it comes to trust, customers now place their faith in everyday people like themselves who have no agenda apart from providing others with honest testimonials about a company and its products or services based on real-life experience. According to a 2019 consumer survey by BrightLocal, 91% of people age 18-34 trust online testimonials as much as personal recommendations. And according to Nielsen, 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.
To harness the power of testimonials to attract more pet owners to your practice, it’s important to understand the main difference between the two types of testimonials:
- Unsolicited testimonials such as product/service reviews found on public sites like Amazon and Yelp, or comments found on Facebook and other public forums
- Solicited testimonials—direct requests sent to clients (commonly by email), asking them to rate your business and share their customer experience back to you in writing with permission for you to share their testimonial on your website and/or social channels
While unsolicited reviews have their strengths, they’re also passive. You have no control over what someone writes, meaning a reviewer may not provide a testimonial that both identifies a problem common to your market and how your business solved it.
To illustrate why this is so important, here’s a short real-life testimonial from Yelp about a veterinary clinic (with the reviewer’s name and clinic name withheld for privacy):
“I highly recommend this clinic!”
As complimentary as this review is, it doesn’t offer specifics to answer the #1 question in the minds of prospective customers:
“Why should I choose your product/service above any other competing product/service?”
To better ensure that testimonials answer this question, businesses commonly solicit reviews from customers by eliciting them to answer three simple questions in a problem-solution narrative (or, story format) that answers the why question in the minds of prospects:
- What problem were you experiencing?
- Why did you choose us above competitors?
- What was your experience with our solution?
For practices, the three questions might go something like this:
- What problem were you experiencing with your pet before you came to us?
- Why did you choose our practice above other veterinary clinics?
- What was your overall experience like? (Good or bad.)
The invitation to a “good or bad” response assures clients that you’re not trying to lead them. When you inform clients that you welcome their open and honest opinion, and provide a framework for them to shape their answers, you may get a testimonial that goes something like this:
My dog Max had an ear infection. I knew he needed to see a vet, and I’d been taking him to a local clinic for a few years. But he’d become terrified of going because of all the smells and noises and handling he received during examinations. I chose to take Max to XYZ Veterinary Clinic because it’s a certified fear-free practice. Both Max and I had a great experience there. The staff were friendly and personable. They took great care of Max and knew the medication that would quickly clear up his ear infection. They were also more affordable than I’d expected. Today, Max is far less stressed about going to the vet than he’s been in years.
This example testimonial addresses the primary prospect question with specifics. At the same time, the testimonial helps incentivize prospects and reduce reservations. Why should someone choose XYZ Veterinary Clinic above any other competing clinic?
- XYZ Veterinary Clinic is a certified fear-free practice (more advantageous situation for prospects)
- XYZ Veterinary Clinic is staffed by friendly veterinary professionals who know their stuff (trust assurance for prospects)
- XYZ Veterinary Clinic doesn’t charge an arm and a leg (cost savings for prospects)
A testimonial is a quote. So, you can’t re-write a testimonial or change the order of the sentences. Otherwise, it’s not a quote. You can, however, edit a testimonial for basic spelling and punctuation.
You can also omit whole sentences or portions of them to make them shorter and more reader-friendly and indicate omissions with an ellipsis (“…”). The exception: If you remove one or more complete sentences from the beginning or end of a testimonial, you do not need to use an ellipsis.
To illustrate, here’s a trimmed-down version of the testimonial previously used:
I chose to take Max to XYZ Veterinary Clinic because it’s a certified fear-free practice… Today, Max is far less stressed about going to the vet than he’s been in years.
Include the name and location (city, village or town name) of the person who provides a testimonial. Also, ask them to provide a picture with their pet. This information all serves to legitimize a testimonial. If someone agrees to the use of their testimonial but wishes to remain anonymous, respect their right to privacy but consider not using their testimonial. They may have given a great testimonial but an attribution of “anonymous” raises doubts about legitimacy in the minds of prospects.
Whatever you do, DO NOT use stock photos. People can spot a stock photo a mile away, and they’ll instantly consider any associated testimonial as a complete fake.
Where to Use Testimonials
Posting testimonials to your social channels should be an adjunct to posting them on your website. You may have followers on social but posts quickly become lost and forgotten on newsfeeds. Testimonials posted on your practice website exist in perpetuity, meaning they’re there for people to see for years.
A Few Best Practices
Because testimonials are so effective and important to visitors, testimonials should be right there to meet visitors when they land on your home page. Don’t bury testimonials on a subpage, and ideally, visitors shouldn’t have to scroll too far on your home page to find testimonials. If you have numerous testimonials, consider placing them on a testimonial slider, which further saves visitors from scrolling.
Cleanliness in website design is also important. If you have distracting/confusing website design elements like busy or complicated layouts, too many fonts, and/or discordant color schemes, visitors may miss your testimonials or leave your website before reading them. A clean and well-designed website encourages visitors to remain on your website.
In the end, customer testimonials are experiential stories about your practice, told by the people who’ve been there. The more compelling your stories, the more you encourage prospective clients to visit your practice and become your next story of customer satisfaction.