How to Use Customer References the Right Way
Don’t Hoard Them Up Like a Squirrel Storing Nuts for The Winter
Make Them Freely Available to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere!
Here’s a crazy idea: what if you gave your prospects customer references on your website?
I’m don’t mean testimonials. Those are fine, but not what I’m talking about.
And I don’t mean online reviews. Those are even better than testimonials and any home improvement website should have them as well. But that’s not what I’m talking about either.
I’m talking about a list of names, phone numbers, cities, and project types of actual customers, sitting right there on your website, in plain view.
Like fifteen of them. Or twenty. Or thirty.
Without the prospect having to fill out a form.
Or even identify themselves at all.
I’m talking about a list of current customer references just sitting there on your home improvement website for anyone and everyone to see and call, with no strings, no restrictions, and no conditions.
Told you it was a crazy idea!
But also probably one of the best and most important ideas for improving conversion on your website.
Let’s think about this for a minute:
Assuming you have a strong Identity that is powerfully communicated on your website, you are going to need to provide SOCIAL PROOF that the wonderful things that you say about yourself are actually true.
In a court of law, your references are what’s called “witnesses.” The jury (your prospects) have the ability to call them up, interview them, get their unvarnished opinions, and draw their own conclusions.
And if you make these “witnesses” available without prospects having to jump through hoops, that’s a supreme show of confidence. It sure beats the heck out of “giving them three references” if and when they ask for them. It’s critical that your list have NO LESS than fifteen names on it—the more the better. You don’t want to be perceived as handpicking happy souls and flushing the rest.
When you provide the references, also make sure you tell your prospects what kinds of questions they should ask when they DO call. I prefer the following:
Overall, how satisfied were you with the quality of the work?
What about the support responsiveness?
Was there anything that upset you? Or didn’t meet your expectations?
If you had to do things over again, would you choose this company?
You could come up with more, but that’s a good start! I’ve found that if you don’t give people questions to ask, they might not call simply because they’re unsure what to say. This will help out.
Now, let’s handle some common objections I get to this method:
Objection 1: What if my customers don’t want to be on my website?
Then by all means, don’t put them on the list! You should get written permission, of course, but you will find this a lot easier to get than you think. As long as your customers are truly happy, many of them will be thrilled to share their experience. After all, how many times does somebody ask you your opinion on anything?
Objection 2: What if they get too many calls?
Take them off the list! Make sure your customers know that they can contact you at any time to request to be taken of the list—either permanently, or just for a rest. A good solution is to have two or three lists, and rotate them periodically—once or twice a month. You will quickly find out that only your most earnestly interested prospects actually take the time to call your list. And most of them actually WAIT until after they’ve engaged you in conversation to actually pick up the phone. Note: If you are a really big company with hundreds of customers and thousands of prospects per month, you may even want to rotate lists DAILY.
Objection 3: What about my customers’ online privacy?
Have your website nerds code the page so that it’s not indexed by Google or other search engines. This is easy to do, and it ensures that when somebody Googles your customer’s name, your web page (with their name on it) doesn’t come up as a search result.
Objection 4: What if my competitors see this list of my customers?
So what?! What exactly do you think they are going to do with that list? Do you think they will call them up, tell them that you are terrible, and try to make them talk bad about you? Remember, these are your happy customers. Your competitors aren’t going to do anything with this list, and even if they did, it wouldn’t affect you in any way.
At the end of the day, marketing is about engendering TRUST and causing people to FALL IN LOVE with your company before they ever meet you in person. Utilize references this way—the powerful way—and you’ll be far ahead of the curve.
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