3 techniques for getting testimonials that harness natural laws of psychology, allowing you to banish worrying about social media, SEO and writing copy forever.

If you read Robert Cialdini’s book Influence, you’ll discover how, during the Korean War in the early 1950s, Chinese Communists brainwashed patriotic US POWs into becoming Communist sympathizers.

The process was subtle but terrifyingly effective. They’d ask them to write pro-communist statements with small camp privileges, such as more cigarettes or greater freedom to walk around. They’d be essay competitions.

To win a prize POWs would only have to mention something seemingly innocuous, such as how communism in a small way might have improved life back home. Soon the smaller commitments became bigger and ultimately the POWs would go on air and publicly denounce American capitalism in favour of communism.

Now I’m not suggesting you gather testimonials to brainwash your customers.

But Cialdini explains the Chinese were simply harnessing a basic human psychological reality. They were just using human instinctive behavior to change attitudes and perceptions – what Cialdini calls the commitment and consistency weapon of influence.

But it can also be used for good. Consistency allows us to operate in a very complex world. It’s a relatively efficient way of getting through life without spending huge amounts of energy and time analysing, thinking and weighing up the pros and cons of what to do in umpteen daily situations. We only have to say, do or behave consistently with previous decisions and behaviors. More often than not, being consistent bears better results.

Consistency implies intellectual strength, leadership, rationality, strength, stability, logic and honesty. Equally, being inconsistent makes us feel, and appear, two-faced, indecisive and a flip-flop. As British chemist Michael Faraday when asked about a rival being wrong, famously replied “he’s not that consistent.’

Politicians who’ve written and spoken publicly about the supposed benefits of socialism are unlikely to suddenly to espouse unfettered free markets. If anything they go on more loudly and aggressively than ever to persuade us all of its merits. .

Testimonials are commitments. When your customers give you a testimonial, instinctively they want to be consistent with that commitment.

So here are 3 ways to foster commitment from your customers to make them psychologically more inclined to provide testimonials: –

 1. Get acknowledgement of your “word of mouth” marketing strategy as your priority (ahead of social media, SEO and writing copy).

If your prospective customers can acknowledge the logic of the principle of attracting customers through “word of mouth” marketing, even before they come on board, then that is their first commitment to your process of getting testimonials.

This will make getting testimonials, references and referrals just that much easier, because your customers will want to be consistent with that even mild commitment they’ve made to you.

You do this by stating at your presentation that you ALIGN the getting of new customers with satisfying existing ones. Explain that your marketing depends on you doing a great job for your existing customers, so that your business grows through recommendations, testimonials and referrals. You can then say that prioritising “word of mouth marketing” is a win-win for both you and your customer. Ask them if they think this is reasonable, and voila, you have your first commitment to your principle of getting testimonials.

2. Systemise the process of testimonial gathering Make gathering customer feedback a matter of process.

Ensure that all your staff are perpetually conscious of the need to get feedback – both negative and positive.

The negative feedback allows you to hone what you do so it serves your customers better and the positive feedback becomes testimonial content.

If testimonial gathering is a matter of process, it means that you’ll have more testimonials than otherwise. It removes any delaying indecision to act, removes having to “summon the will” to ask for a testimonial and removes any feeling of awkwardness and embarrassment. Testimonial gathering becomes an automatic process. Now even if only 10% of customers asked comply, then at least you’ll have a steady stream of testimonials to re-enforce social proof. Plus of course, those complying customers will be more loyal.

You do this by ensuring that your customer facing staff understand why they need to get testimonials (and referrals), why “word of mouth marketing” is more effective and you need align their personal goals with yours. This ensures they’re sufficiently incentivised. You could also insert lines into future employment contracts obliging staff to seek customer feedback on certain occasions. Failure to do so would risk disciplinary action. Extreme – but if you are serious about getting customer feedback so you can grow your business, then this could make sense.

Finally, you need to train staff how and when to ask for testimonials, arm them with scripts and provide them with the ability to record their calls, so asking for testimonials feels really natural.

3. Scripting what your customers say in their testimonials

Ask your customers to testify to your unique sales proposition, a very beneficial feature or to an amount of money they spend. This then weds them psychologically to those statements (commitments), but also sends out a very persuasive sales message to anyone listening. You can do this by stating to them your USP, then asking if they agree. But another approach is to ask them what they believe your USP actually is. The reply could be absolute gold. Then simply ask them to record what they said.

For more information please telephone David Bradley on 0207 458 4490

By David Bradley


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