Think about it, if you’ve ever used Amazon.com, you know that they have products for sale and each product has a review from a previous purchaser. We use other people’s thoughts and opinions because they appear to be more authentic. That is the logic we are using in creating a client testimonial.

The Key

This goes without saying, but I have to say it: The first step in writing an effective client testimonial is to provide high-quality customer service to all your clients. No amount of well-written prose or rhetoric will do you justice if the client testimony does not represent the type of service you offer. Eventually, you will be found out.

A key to providing excellent customer service is to remember the following: Deliver what you promise but take the time to invest in your client’s business. Deliver the product but also give your client advice, consulting, and go the extra mile. Show them you care about their business and you’re not just someone looking to get paid.

My past mistake

When writing client testimonials in the past, I made a mistake. I used to go through the entire process then at the end of the project ask the client for a quote. It was always difficult for the client to provide a quote because they would either forget, take a long time or when I finally did receive a quote from the client it really wouldn’t be that amazing. I now see the mistake I was making, by waiting until the end of the project to ask the client for a quote I was relying on their memory. It would have been better for me to ask them their thoughts in the midst of the project instead of waiting until the end.

Take Notes

When the project starts, that is when your client testimony begins. Any positive interactions you have with the client should be written down and recorded. Write down anything the client was impressed with and any complements the client has given you along the process. If using a video chat for client meetings such as Skype or Google Hangouts some you can record those sessions and make notes of them. Take note of any emails that are favorable as well.

By writing all of these things down and you are creating a document that you can later go back to and use this to craft a client testimony that is both true, accurate, and is detailed.

No one is impressed by general statements that say things like, “Nathan is great he’s awesome to work with!” To make these useful in a portfolio or a case study, they have to be more direct and speak to solving a problem.

Write the Testimony for Them

You should write the testimony on behalf of your client. You as the creative professional are more aware of the type of work you provided for the client then they are. Unless your client is a relatively good writer, you should always look to write the client testimony on their behalf. Use the document you created to pull from and craft a quote that focuses on the problem you solved but also the results you produced. Showing quantitative results is very effective, here is an example of a quantitative statement: “Before working with Nathan my website traffic averaged 20 people a week. I now have 220 people a week which is in 1000% increase.” Including results in a quote makes it clear that you are someone who can produce tangible results.

Ask the client to approve what you wrote

Once you write the testimony, the next step is to email it to the client and ask them to review it. I have found it to be more efficient to give the client an actual starting point so that they can change what they want about the testimony and not have to begin from scratch. Doing this is not lying nor deceitful. You are just trying to give the client a head start into writing an effective testimony, and you’re working with them as well as getting their permission in this process.

More than likely one of two things will happen:
(1) the client will review your testimony and give you the thumbs up to use it or (2) the client will make changes/additions and still send you back a testimony.

We’re almost there; you have a testimony that focuses on:

  • the work you did
  • what problem you solved for the client
  • the results you were able to achieve
  • you have the client’s permission to use the testimony

An Images means authenticity

The next thing you need to have an effective client testimony is a picture of the client in whom you are quoting. It’s best to use a headshot. When others are reading your portfolio/case studies, the headshot image helps them make the connection that the testimonies are from real people.

Using images helps to create trust in and shows authenticity with the type of people you work with.

Ask the right way

Be careful how you asked for the testimony you don’t want to position this as more work for the client. Communicate to them that the case study you are working on is for your portfolio but will also help market their business.

You want the client to walk away with knowing if they give you permission to use their quote and image it’s an added value our bonus because the more people that read the testimony, the more business awareness you create for them.

Remember to ask for permission to use the client’s name, business title and the name of business. I tend to include this language in my contract/client agreement. I always want the freedom to create a case study for any work I provide.

Quick Review

In summary and effective client testimonial:

  • talks about the highlights of the project
  • the problem that was solved
  • the results that were produced
  • has an image of the person giving the quote
  • references their name position and the company they represent

In the next episode of Freelance Jumpstart TV, we’re going to look at an example of a case study.