28: The Art of Getting Better Testimonials
Testimonials are a huge marketing boon for your business. For many new customers, they are the deciding factor in choosing you over your competition. They are so valuable, we believe it’s time for you to take your customer Testimonials to the next level! In this episode, we give you detailed tips on how to get better testimonials from your customers.
Our Big 3 Takeaways
Pre-design and Preplan
Testimonials are easier to get if you have a system (plan) in place — and you already know what you want to ask along with how and when to ask customers for testimonials.
Time Your Ask Perfectly
Knowing when to ask is as important as knowing what to ask. There are times during the consumer journey when customers are much more apt to give you a worthy testimonial — use them!
Use the Testimonials Immediately
Testimonials aren’t any good unless you use them! Make plan to put the testimonials you get into action as soon as possible!
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Transcripts are autogenerated and may contain typographical and grammar errors. This transcript is copyright©2021 Kimberly Beer and Cara Taylor Swift. DO NOT COPY in whole or part without written permission.
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Welcome to The Business Animal podcast. saddle up for a gallop to the top of the animal industry, where you’ll learn how to tame your wild business beast, with tips, techniques, and tools that will take overwhelm to obedience school, and have you wagging your tail with joy. And now your hosts, Kim Beer, and Cara Taylor Swift.
Kimberly Beer 0:23
Hey there business animals. It’s Kim with Be More Business
Cara Taylor Swift 0:27
and Cara Taylor Swift with Fast Horse Photography.
Kimberly Beer 0:30
And welcome to The Business Animal.
So in today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about something that Cara and I have spent a lot of time talking to each other about, and that’s creating a better social proof through testimonials. Now, way back in season one at the beginning of season one, we did a really awesome episode on social proof. I hope that’s not I’m really a humble person, but it was really good episode. Don’t you agree Cara
Cara Taylor Swift 0:59
Well it was one of our favorites. It was definitely one of our personal favorites, wasn’t it?
Kimberly Beer 1:03
It was and I’ve actually gone on and pitched that as an idea with a bunch of other ideas in a bunch of speaking engagements that I’ve done. And since then, I’ve created a presentation around that and delivered that to three, four or five different audiences. And the speaking coordinators that I’ve worked with have all been super excited about the topic because there’s not a lot of people out there really discussing social proof, how to how to use it, how to do it better. And our episode was really timely in that. So today, as usual, when we do our episodes, let me back up a minute, we always go oh man, we could have done an entire episode around one little piece of a bigger episode. So the social proof episode in season one covered a wide range of topics and a wide range of things around social proof. But one little specific piece of social proof that we wanted to break out and talk about a lot deeper has to do with getting better customer testimonials. And there’s a true art to this. This is something that I don’t see always businesses taking a good opportunity to get. I don’t see them trying to craft this. I see some attempts it at people trying to get star reviews on Google or things like that, but really good customer testimonials, they can make the huge difference between you getting a customer and that customer moving on to your competition. And Cara, you found some interesting statistics around this. Would you share those with us?
Cara Taylor Swift 2:35
Yeah, absolutely. Because I think you know, like you said, Kim we gave a really big overview on our social proof. But we want to actually like tell you guys, these are some awesome tips that you can walk away with today and get started creating awesome testimonials for your business. Because the truth is, is that I think testimonials on your website and reviews on your website or online, Google, Yelp, wherever they’re found they are second in powerfulness only to word of mouth referrals. Like I feel like it’s word of mouth referrals. And then the next thing that most people do is they start to look for testimonials, or basic reviews. So I thought this was really interesting, I saw that 92% of customers read online reviews before buying. And I was like that makes sense. Because I am definitely someone who I read all the reviews, I look for the testimonials from people who have used the product and services. But on the flip side of that, I’m pretty crappy about writing out reviews, or creating like awesome testimonials for products and services that I like. And I think that’s most people. So the big takeaway, I think from that is that you have to have a strategy to move forward to actually go out and harvest those testimonials. another statistic that I found, which I thought was really interesting is that 72% of consumers will take action only after reading positive reviews. And it takes 40 or more reviews sometimes for consumers to consider that when they’re looking at like a review page or looking at testimonials that that’s an accurate rating for that business. So you don’t you actually need more than just a couple you need to be thinking about how to harvest them regularly. And over time with your business how do you keep pulling them in so that they’re timely that they show accuracy and what you’re currently providing to your clients and that people are seeing like over time that they’re still coming in and they’re still positive so that they can believe in your business and the services you provide?
Kimberly Beer 4:27
That’s huge. It is a huge piece of the marketing puzzle that I think sometimes we gloss over because we’re on to the next shiny object. So our big three for this episode around testimonials are first, pre designed and pre plan your testimonial experience. This is something you need to get mindful about. It’s not something that you should just sort of wait and wish to happen. It’s something that you you need to consider ahead of time and build it into your entire customer service experience. The second of the big three is to learn how to time that ask perfectly so that you do get the best testimonial. And you get it in a place where it’s easy for your customers to provide the testimonial. And then the final of our big three is to have a plan for using those testimonials immediately so that you are pushing that information out. And like Cara just said, keeping it up on the top of mind of people and, and making sure that you have fresh testimonials. So people are seeing the newest, latest greatest information from your clients. And you always want to be able to do that. So if we back up to the first of the big three, which is pre designed and pre plan your testimonial experience, that means that you need to kind of figure out what you’re going to talk with people about in getting testimonials. Now for some of you, I know you have already instituted an email marketing program where you send out an email and ask people for a review. That’s great, that’s great. But we can take that a little bit further. Because the truth is, is that your customers may have had a wonderful experience with you. But they’re not going to voluntarily go every one of them anyway, go and leave you a review. Right off the bat. There are some that will but the majority of them are going to wait until they’re asked. And when you ask, it’s really important that you ask leading questions that you help them with this process. Because I can tell you the number one response that I get from people, when I say hey, you know, they’re raving to me about something I’m like, Well, why did you leave that as a review? And I only ask that of my friends who say things about this. I don’t like normal customers. I mean, I don’t just like, Well, why didn’t you leave me a review. But at any rate, most people is like, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to say it. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know how to initialize that review process. So it’s really important that you learn how to ask those leading questions and ask people stuff that will help them be able to get one you a good review and two over that hump of not knowing what they’re going to say. And Cara has some really good elements here that she’s going to bring into understanding the part of the review that you need to concentrate on. So Cara take that away.
Cara Taylor Swift 7:35
Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny that you mentioned that about what your clients say, cuz I sent a request the other day to someone to that I had just finished working with her for a testimonial. And her response back was, Oh, my gosh, I would be happy to do that I can’t I’m sad that I didn’t think to do that. And it’s just not top of mind, we cannot expect our customers to go online and leave a review or to leave a more detailed testimonial when they’re busy living their life, right? Like, we need to help prompt them. And we want to make it stupid simple for them. I believe personally, that testimonial should include three main elements, part of the testimonial should include a before piece, the second part should be a during or an after piece. And then the third piece should be something about the overall experience. So in terms of the before, you’re going to be asking questions to get your client to talk about, you know, what made them decide to work with you or purchase your product or service in the first place. And you really want to get to that pain point with them. So did they have any concerns or worries, you know, what was the reason they contacted you? How did they think that your service might fit their needs? So you’re going to ask questions around that. And guys coming up, we’re actually going to give you some questions to start with. Okay, just keep that in mind when we’re going through this. The second part that during and or after part of your questions, you know, you’re going to be looking for questions to ask like, what was it like to work with your business? What was it like to work with you as the person providing those services? specifically? What was it like when they made the purchase of the product? Was the process easy? Did you have what they needed? Did they enjoy their time with you? You can also talk about like, what types of emotions did they have while going through that process of working with you or your business? You know, were they relieved? Were they anxious? Were they nervous about investment? Did they think the process was fun? These are all the emotions that you’re going to try to pull out? And then the third part that after or the overall experience part? Did your product or service meet their need? You need to know that? Are they happy with the overall results? Would they work with you again would they purchase from you again? And one of the most important parts of this is would they recommend you to others? Now these three elements are really important because remember, you’re creating this because you are looking at those people out there that are consumers that have yet to work with their business. And you’ve got to have testimonials that aren’t just like a random review where someone pops in and said, You know, it was awesome working with your business. I’d totally do it again or what an awesome experience, no you know, you need to actually speak to what it’s like to work in your business or to make a purchase from you so that people know if you’re a right fit for them, you know, and you’ve got to have those testimonials on there, because they really make your product or service seem less risky. No one wants to be the first person to test out your business. So having those testimonials on there, and those reviews on there can really make that process of making the decision to work with you so much easier, because they see you’re a good fit. One of the things I will add is, as I’ve been filling out my testimonials, and I’ve been getting more and more back from clients, you start to see consistency when you’re asking the same questions, so that when clients sit down, or consumers sit down and look at my review page, or the lengthy testimonials that I have, they start to see a process, you know, because each one kind of flows like the same. And so they really have an idea of what to expect when they pick up the phone to call me for the first time.
Kimberly Beer 10:55
Well, and I love the thought of nobody wants to be the guinea pig. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig wine. Nobody wants to be the guy actually like being the guinea pig. I enjoy being the first first person through the experience cuz
Cara Taylor Swift 11:09
Kimberly Beer 11:10
Cara Taylor Swift 11:14
pain free process that the trail that has been paved and lots of landmarks.
Kimberly Beer 11:26
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There’s two things I want to add to the conversation here. One is I want to draw a really good attention to those pain points when consumers are looking to purchase something, and we always have to remember people seek to get out of pain before they will seek to get again. And it’s really important because a lot of times, especially if you have a business that solves a problem, and trust me all businesses solve a problem. Some of them are just more obvious than others. But that pain point addressing it in the testimonials and in the during piece or the before piece of I came with this particular problem. And then in that final overall phase them saying this solved or helped with or alleviated or rectified that problem. That’s what consumers that’s what gets them to go, oh, yep, that’s for me, I’m gonna buy that. So the pain point is a really, really important piece of the puzzle for you to figure out how to draw that information out of the customer. And that takes you really getting to understand your customers, it takes the process of you really taking your business very seriously and how you solve those pain points. So it’s very important for you to consider those. Now the bigger the problem your customer comes to you with the bigger this needs to be a part of your testimonial experience. For example, if you are a dog groomer, it’s not maybe quite as critical because people The problem is I need to get my dog groomed you didn’t groom my dog. Well, that works out great. But if you’re a corrective farrier, that before pain point of I had a horse that was lame or couldn’t, couldn’t function properly. And in working with Joe farrier, my horse is now sound. That’s a big, that’s a big part of that puzzle. The second piece of this I want to bring to people’s attention is that when you’re thinking of these questions, and you’re thinking of, and you’re getting answers to them from the customers, if you’re asking them and like, like Cara mentioned, we’re gonna give you questions to ask here in a moment, there may be a little bit of fear associated with that on your behalf, like, Am I poking the bear? Am I creating more customer service problems for myself? Am I creating a situation where I may open the door to a complaint if I’m asking my customers these questions, or if I’m kind of looking at this experience that way, where most of the time your customers are pretty good about telling you where the experience was a letdown for them. So those are probably not the same people unless you were able to rectify it, that you’re going to approach them with this. But in the case that you do, this is an opportunity for you to improve the way that you do business. And if you approach it as a really opened minded situation where you’re not just asking them for a review or to give you all of this positive glowing information. But if there is a place where you have a hitch and your your service or your product, or if there is a place where they didn’t have a smooth experience, it gives you an opportunity to look at that and say, Was this an isolated incident that was just peculiar to this one individual? Or is this something I need to examine in my overall business and see if it’s something I need to make a change about. So when you sit down to think about this testimonial experience, I really want you to come at it with a very open minded, this is a place for me not only to get good testimonials, for people to to use my business again, but this is a really good spot for me to know what I’m doing right and maybe what I could improve upon. So that’s my two cents on that last little piece. Are you ready to move on to number two Cara? Or do you have anything to respond to that?
Cara Taylor Swift 15:54
Nope. Let’s jump right into number two, which is about timing your ask perfectly. And Kim and I always talk about make it stupid, simple, right? Yep. And I just want to add a quick little, I had to Google this because I was like, Why don’t really know Is there like a more? You know, like, I usually do it at the end of the time that I work with clients. Right? So I was thinking, you know, typically that just seems like the obvious time to ask for testimonials. So I googled what is the best time to ask clients for testimonials and reviews thinking there might be some really good stuff out there, man. They’re specific. The two best times to ask for reviews are between two and 3pm and six and seven pm. Consumers are most likely to rate a business on Google and I’m like, Who knew? I didn’t know it was that specific but I can dang sure tell you I’m gonna test it out. let you guys know.
Kimberly Beer 16:42
Who knew? I have a wager I have a wager as to why that those are two good times to ask you. Do you hear my wager? Okay, I do. It’s after lunch and after dinner.
Cara Taylor Swift 16:54
Three o’clock slump makes sense,
Kimberly Beer 16:55
after after dinner people are more likely to give you a good review when they’re not hangry.
Cara Taylor Swift 17:01
Okay, okay, so it’s food related. I got that.
Kimberly Beer 17:05
It would be for me. So
Cara Taylor Swift 17:07
But in all seriousness, when I was talking about the make it stupid, simple part with you go back to our social proof episode, which was kind of a gloss over of the importance of this subject. One of the things that Kim talks about is, you know, making it as simple as possible for them to know exactly where they need to leave a review having a clickable link that they can get there to get it done. So that’s kind of where I was going with that originally.
Kimberly Beer 17:30
I love it. So I also like the fact that you have this lovely word in here that I it was completely new to me, which I think is a fantastic word. It’s psychotactics. Yeah, that’s much better than psychopaths. So psychotactics
Cara Taylor Swift 17:47
Yes. Yeah. So when I was getting really specific, and thinking about the questions that I always asked, When I’m harvesting testimonials, I was thinking about the questions that I asked. And so I did some online research to see what are some other questions or ways that I could kind of rework some of the questions that I asked to make sure that what I’m giving to you guys is like the easiest best to get you started stuff. And I came across this awesome website dedicated to psychotactics. And it’s Why Clients Buy and Why They Don’t. So it’s really kind of analyzing that. And I learned a ton of stuff. But one of the things that I did learn that I appreciated was that the questions that I asked when I’m harvesting testimonials, were right on point. So I wanted to kind of run through some examples for you guys. So this is a good time to make a note, maybe at the time point of the episode, if you’re driving or if you are sitting down and you want to take some notes, I highly recommend doing a little write up so that when you sit down, you can implement these in your own way in your business.
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So here are some great questions that you can consider to fill in the step. So that kind of before, during and after and then the overall experience piece of your testimonial when you’re asking for them. So the first question that I like to ask is what made you decide to work with or make a purchase from and then that’s going to you’re going to insert your business name there. So for me that looks like you know what made you decide to work with Fast Horse Photography? And that is a great first question. And remember, you’re looking for their why you’re looking for their pain point you’re looking for what made them decide to hollar at you. The second is what was the obstacle or hesitation that you had about working with or buying from insert name of business. So think about your business name and where that would go. So what was that obstacle? What were they maybe concerned about. And remember, this goes back to those consumers out there that are trying to decide if they should work with your business or work with another business, one of your competitors. So for them to be able to see their own hesitation or their own obstacle reflected back to them in a testimonial and then see that it had a happy ending. That seems like a psychotactics to me right?
Kimberly Beer 20:42
Cara Taylor Swift 20:42
there you go. The third is, you know, what have been the results after buying the product? or what have been the results after you know, the service was provided. So Kim gave the example of the corrective shoeing, you know, so that’s a really great place for them to put in, well, you know, my horse isn’t lame anymore. And he’s riding really well. And we’re competing well, so kind of talking about that. The fourth one is, you know, what did you like most about working with buying from, or the products you purchase? So you kind of fix that to your own business. But that’s really talking about the key, you’re looking for those kind of key elements, those beautiful parts of their pain point being solved? And then what would you recommend about this service? What would you recommend about the product or the business to someone else? And I love this one, because I get lots of good stuff back on this, you know what people I really start to see like what people really liked about the experience. And then I always add a little piece about, is there anything else that you’d like to add? And this is also a really individualized element to that. So you can see, if you look at the six different types of questions that you could ask in your testimonial, how over time, when you’re collecting them from client after client, you’ll start you should start to see a pattern developed, that consumers out there who are looking to know what the experience is with your business can recognize, and they’ll start to see Oh, every single time this is the pattern, is that a good fit for me.
Kimberly Beer 22:07
And again, this is another great place for you to learn about what you’re doing great, and what you may be could improve on. I do recommend that when you start this process and asking people these questions that you do, let them know that you are interested in both a testimonial and also feedback. So that they understand to provide positive as well as negative feedback because there can be some some negative stuff that might come up in this, which again, I’m going to reiterate is a good thing because it gives you an opportunity to be able to fix that. Another point that I want to make about timing your ask perfectly for the testimonial is, you know, there’s points in time when people are raving about you in front of you. So a great example of this for me is when I teach a class, and people come up after the class and they start talking to me about Hey, Kim, you taught me something I didn’t know or that was just the coolest thing or thank you so much for doing this, that right there in the moment is one of the best times that you can capture a testimonial and Cara I bet that happens to you when you’re doing a client viewing session, when they see their images and they’re talking about their images. And they they start to talk about the experience that they had or remembering a moment when from prompted by the images. Is that an accurate consideration?
Cara Taylor Swift 23:35
Yes, but I gotta be honest, I have not been bold enough to whip out my video recorder.
Kimberly Beer 23:40
Well, you should.
Yeah, and working it into your flow. That’s why you’ve got to pre plan and pre design this experience. Right? You have to figure out how am I going to work that in and for me with your business, I wouldn’t try to do it like right as soon as they started talking. I would work it into the end of the session. And probably I don’t know quite exactly how you do step by step. But I’d work it in towards the end and I would work it in with the question Hey, I’m building my business and I want to thank you for so many of the kind things that you said today and I would really love to be able to capture those for a testimonial would you be okay if I recorded this with my phone and make it just part of the experience but pre plan it because if you don’t pre plan it that being bold enough piece is not going to happen. So as you’re doing the session and you’re mentally taking notes on what they found positive what was a good experience for them then that’s what you’re going to go back to after you turn the phone on. In my experience. I don’t think I’ve ever had a person say no in all of them that I have recorded. There’s that and and second, you do need to caveat it when you get it as a I’m not going to record this to like publish on the internet, I’m recording it to capture your words. And if it works out where it’s a really good video, then you might show it to them and ask, but more more than likely what you’re going to use is the transcript from the video, not necessarily the video itself. So you’re just capturing that in the moment, because otherwise you forget what they said they forget. And you can’t trust them to go back home and write that on Google. Right? You You have to help out the situation a little bit from that point. The other thing is, is don’t just pick up your phone and point it out them and press the record button and say, Okay, go, you have to go back to the things that they were talking about. So you have to ask a another leading question that generally responds to them about you know, you were talking to me just a few moments ago about your experience at Fast Horse Photography, and how comfortable you felt, even though you are self conscious in front of the camera, can you talk to me about that again, and people are usually very willing to do that. And you have a wonderful opportunity in that moment to catch something that’s very genuine. And it’s not thought out a lot. So it tends to be really honest. And I’ll tell you, I have had some of the best reviews and testimonials captured that way, especially for my speaking gigs. Because they people are just really genuine in that particular moment. If you let the moment go by, and it moves on to being a place where you’re asking them to write a review for you. I agree that the questions are fantastic. I think providing people with those questions. And it’s kind of like a little survey for them. And they can pick and choose what they want is some people still get stuck within that. And another thing you can do for that person who just raved about you is just kind of mentally take notes about what they said. And then when you ask for the review, kind of pre write it for them. So in the case that I just gave with Kira, what it would look like is when you sent an email to the individual that had such a positive session, it would say, you know, while we were in our viewing session, you mentioned to me or you said to me, and then put it directly into a quote, Kara made me feel so comfortable, even though I’m self conscious in front of the camera, write it for them. So all they have to do is copy and paste into Google reviews, or, you know, put it back to them, the people who want to write you an original one, they’ll go ahead and change it to whatever it is that they want. But the person who’s kind of stuck, will copy and paste that. And you’ll have a positive Google review or a positive testimonial on your website or a positive Yelp review, wherever you’re going for this. And it’ll be easy for them, they don’t have to do a ton of thinking about it. Because let’s face it reviews are asking something of your customers that is kind of above and beyond. And it’s a little bit taxing on the person who has to leave the review sometimes.
Cara Taylor Swift 28:03
And testimonials are even next level because you know, reviews are very simple. A lot of times they can go on and leave their stars and write something kind of cute and short. But testimonials, you’re actually looking for people to write an extended amount of information so that people can really get an idea of what it’s like to work with you. So that is a time a time consuming thing. You know, there are even opportunities for incentivizing that a little bit as well. Although you do need to be aware of the rules around that there are some rules about providing incentives. So if you are providing an incentive, and then I get requests for this periodically, like, you know, a company or email me and say, Would you please provided this in depth questionnaire or survey relating to the product and service that you purchased and in return receive a 10% coupon or something afterwards? You know, that is something that you can do as an animal business as well, as long as you go online. And you actually, you know, you know what the rules are around that the Federal Trade Commission does have guidelines that it must be mentioned, you know, like on your website, for example, that an incentive was provided. So you guys can do that research. But I just want to mention that there just to show that it is a time consuming thing for people and you are asking them to do something pretty significant. So making it as easy for them as possible, like Kim said, and kind of guiding them through that can really make a difference on your response rate.
Kimberly Beer 29:23
Absolutely. And you bring up one other thing that I’m not going to hold us up really long talking about but I do want to make a distinction of there is a slight difference between a review and a testimonial. But the lines have gotten so blurred on that, especially with the fact that people can leave these in depth Google reviews, too. So to me a review is the five stars are in great service or nice photos or you know two or three words. Whereas a testimonial is going to be several sentences at least that talk about that person’s experience with the business and even though Google is technically a quote unquote review a when you get people to leave those lengthy multi sentence, multi paragraph experience that becomes a testimonial for your business. So and you can use those other places. And that’s why in all honesty, Google is probably one of the best places to collect your reviews and testimonials, because they’re usually entered by the person,
Cara Taylor Swift 30:25
they make it really easy.
Kimberly Beer 30:26
Yeah. And then Facebook to me would probably be number two on that list. For most of the businesses listening out there, there are some of you that are very searchable by location. And by service like Yelp would be a really good place as a good number two, but in general, Google is an awesome place to collect your reviews, that does not mean that you should only leave them on Google, however, you need to use them in other places, which I think brings us to our number three topic really nicely, which is to have a plan for using those testimonials immediately. Here’s the thing, that person who just did this, and we just talked about the fact this is not an easy thing for the person on the other end to do. It’s something that takes time it takes thought and even if they’re just cutting and pasting, that still has a little bit of time out of their day that they didn’t plan and it’s not paid in general. So the worst thing that can happen is for you to not take that testimonial and put it to work, it’s kind of a ding to them and a detriment to your business. So it’s really important for you, when you do get a good review, one to respond to it and say thank you. And number two, to get that onto your website or to put it out on social media, thank that person for leaving it, just really get on that using the testimonial immediately, you went through a lot of work to get this now let’s use it.
Cara Taylor Swift 31:54
Absolutely, I know that the one of the first things I do is I’d always try to jump on real quick and respond. And I think that the people that are going through those consumers that are looking at your business as a potential option, they are looking at those reviews, and they’re going to be looking to see how you respond as well. So being able to jump on and add a minimum say thank you and address anything that they mentioned. And just show your personality, your brand, you know, as a in general just kind of show that brand personality is it’s a great place to do that consumers are going to be looking for that.
Kimberly Beer 32:27
Absolutely. I know when I work with a business or a brand. It’s more important to me sometimes what the brand does, how they respond than necessarily what is mentioned in the reviews and testimonials. It’s important for me to know that that particular brand is responsive, that they’re thoughtful and that they do appreciate the people that are willing to go the extra mile and do those things for them. So Cara, do you want to wrap us up?
Cara Taylor Swift 32:57
Yeah, I think you guys I’m excited for you. I can’t wait to see what you know you guys are able to do with this information. We are super excited about testimonials. As you can tell I get really hyped up about this topic. So the big three for today pre designed and pre plan that testimonial experience. You need to be out there actively harvesting those testimonials so you can put them to work. Time you’re asked perfectly think about when is the right time in your customer experience to request a testimonial and you know, be super thoughtful about how you’re making that very easy for them to create or to complete for you. And then the third piece is have a plan so that you’re getting the most use out of that testimonial right away. So we hope you guys have enjoyed this episode. We really enjoyed digging a little bit deeper and trying to provide some concrete things that you all can do right away for your animal, pet or equine business.
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