Where does the majority of your business come from?
For many electrical contracting companies, there is a heavy reliance on people coming to them. Sure, you bid on tenders and get work that way, but it’s always a bit easier if the work comes to you, right?
These days, any form of contracting tends to be competitive. You’re not the only game in town and your competitors probably work hard to bring in new business too.
One thing that is still powerful in the industry is word of mouth. It gets around fairly quickly if a contractor doesn’t do a good job, but equally, you can harness the power of the grapevine to bring in business.
Testimonials can play a key role in this – here’s why you need to collect them from your clients:
Why testimonials are important
Testimonials date back a few centuries in the UK. During the 1760s, the first British Royal Warrants were granted, and the tradition has continued to this day. These still communicate the quality and prestige of a product or service, and are a proud part of marketing for those companies in receipt of them.
While your business may or may not have a Royal Warrant, testimonials still play a vital role. As humans, we always tend to look for “social proof” that a product or service is a good one. We want to know that others have bought it and have been pleased with the results.
Consider these statistics:
- 90% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions.
- 85% of consumers said they read up to 10 reviews before feeling they can trust a business.
- 39% of consumers said they read reviews on a regular basis to determine whether a local business is a good business.
Of course, in this age of connectivity, reading and leaving testimonials or reviews is easier than ever. In fact, clients who are searching for an electrical contractor in their area may even come across reviews on third-party sites such as Yelp first. For a software like Countfire, review sites such as Capterra are important for capturing feedback. (Check out what people are saying about us here).
Those third-party sites can prove to be a bit of a double-edged sword for businesses. On one hand, they are a well-known and easy place to source reviews, with people often assuming that a third-party site should be reliable. On the other hand, they might not be reliable.
Many businesses have experienced the disgruntled customer who leaves a one-star review because they wanted something outside of the scope of their agreement, or even malicious reviews left by competitors. (Side note: this is not a good business strategy!)
However, remember that people do tend to look around and check more than one source – this means that it’s more important than ever that you’re gathering good, effective testimonials that you can display.
What makes for an effective testimonial?
When it comes to the effectiveness of a testimonial, there really is a scale from “poor” to “excellent.” If you’ve ever seen a review where someone just gave a rating, but no comment to back it up, this would fit at the poor end. There is no information or “social proof” for the rating.
Also at this end are those brief statements people give, something like: “they were great, I recommend them.” This really doesn’t add any value for the reader. Any testimonials that are given anonymously also tend to lose their effect. In the eyes of the potential customer, anyone could have written it, perhaps even the business owner themselves.
With those being said, here are some elements that do make a testimonial effective:
- They are clearly attributed to a real person. The person’s name, role and business name are included, so a potential client may even choose to contact them to ask about you. Credibility is key.
- They’re written using natural language. Over-edited testimonials can be stiff and obvious, perhaps even looking like the person didn’t write it themselves.
- Where possible, they talk about specifics. For example, “XYZ Electrical surprised me with how efficient they were. They completed the project one week ahead of schedule, allowing us to move in sooner.”
- They address potential objections where possible. For example; “We found ourselves in safe hands with XYZ Electrical. Their experience with public sector contracts shone through in their ability to manage the project to our needs.”
- They are focused and to-the-point. People tend to have short attention-spans – lengthier stories are better used for case studies.
How to get good testimonials from clients
Now that you know what makes for an effective testimonial, how are you going to get them out of your clients? We quite like this tip from a Groove article on testimonials:
“Good testimonials don’t just capture the end result. They capture the struggles and objections at the beginning, too.”
First of all, it’s important to be asking the right questions and listening to your clients from the beginning. While a SaaS like Groove operates their business differently from an electrical contractor, the principle remains the same. Asking the simple question, “why did you choose our company?” can provide good material for testimonials.
Secondly, be listening to any feedback and interacting with the client throughout the project. This not only ensures you stay on top of what they are looking for, but means you can listen for helpful stories or experiences.
Thirdly, make asking for the testimonial part of your process. Many companies wait for a client to come to them, but they will often need prompting. It’s a relatively common occurrence that people will give negative feedback unbidden, but won’t necessarily speak up when they’ve had a great experience.
If you want to get more from the customer than “they did a good job,” it often helps to be prepared with some specific questions that can guide a testimonial. In general, steer the questions so that they reflect what you’re hoping to get out of the testimonial (for example, if you want to target a testimonial about a specific project type or set of skills). Also, avoid any questions that can be answered simply with “yes” or “no.”
In some companies, project managers are encouraged to grab testimonials via video, so that the company captures the client’s natural language and they’re not waiting for someone to get back with a questionnaire. Do whatever works or is comfortable for your company and clients – not everyone will be keen on video!
We’d make two further suggestions for making sure testimonials are effective; 1) ask while everything is still fresh in the mind of the client and 2) keep your questions concise. You will want to bear in mind that you’re asking the client to give up a little bit of their time in order to provide a testimonial that helps you, so try to take up as little of it as possible.
Using testimonials effectively
Using testimonials effectively means getting them seen! You probably use a few different marketing channels these days, and it’s important to have testimonials available across all of them.
Include them on the homepage of your website so that they will be obvious to visitors, and remember your social media channels (if you use them) too. Consider also how you might use testimonials on printed material. Many companies produce brochures or billboards – these are a great opportunity to showcase some of the best quotes you get from clients.
Wordstream offers a tip for websites – highlight your “perfect” customer. Every business has a particular type of client that is their preference to work with, so highlight testimonials from these people first. This helps to attract other, similar clients to your company.
It’s also a good idea to collect and display testimonials that highlight your various competencies. For example, if you do residential AND commercial projects, you need testimonials from both. You might also need testimonials for things like wiring for smart technology or for green initiatives. If there’s something that you particularly prefer doing, again, make sure the related testimonial is predominant.
While asking for testimonials may not be the most comfortable thing for many people, more and more, you have to think like a marketer when it comes to standing out from the competition.
Quite simply, testimonials work. People are always looking for proof that a contractor does good work and is reliable – if they’re not finding that when they come across your company, they may look to the next competitor with glowing testimonials.
In this age of online reviews and hyper-connectivity, you can’t always do anything about any negative reviews that appear on third-party sites, but you can do your best to collect and display good testimonials. Don’t leave it up to chance!