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By now you've identified the right testimonial candidates, reached out to them in a considerate manner, and they’ve agreed to go on the record for you. Great! Now it’s time to make sure you ask the right questions.   This is  your opportunity to shape the conversation and get the message points that matter most to your marketing.    

If you want to skip ahead, you can get your copy of 16 Example Questions for Great Customer Testimonials here

The trick is to ask open-ended questions that focus the testimonial subject on a specific aspect of your product or service where he or she can describe their experience in detail.   Imagine you are a lawyer interviewing a witness on the stand.   How do you encourage the witness to share the relevant facts with the jury?   A testimonial subject is no different.   Think hard about what questions will allow your customer to tell their unique story.    Well thought out questions will yield the ultimate fruit: authentic, specific responses that match up with your marketing communications.

Before you draft specific questions to ask a testimonial subject, there are four types of questions you should consider.   Not all of these avenues of inquiry are relevant depending on your product or service.   For example, B2B marketing tends to be more solution-benefit oriented (value propositions and problems solved), while B2C marketing often centers on creating impulses and evoking emotional responses in the mind of the buyer.  

Avenue #1: Value Proposition / Key Messages.  

You should review your key product value proposition and message points.  Often marketers already have a positioning document that highlights the key outward facing messages that they want to emphasize in their marketing communications.   If you don’t, that’s ok.   The key thing is to think about what three messages you want to emphasize.  What makes your product or service unique?    Remember your customers are your best salespeople.    What do you want them to say on your behalf?     Once you have three key messages or value points in mind, then brainstorm questions that focus on these areas.    The questions should be open ended by using words like “describe” or “tell me how”.

Example Questions:

  • Pick three words that describe this product and why.
  • Describe how easy to use the product is
  • Estimate how much money you saved by using this product.
  • What can you do now that you couldn’t do before by using this product?

Avenue #2: Problems Solved.  

Another fruitful line of questions is to ask customers about the problems or challenges that they overcame with your product or service.   Solving a key problem is why customers buy your product or service, and can increase urgency on the part of your buyers.   Your marketing should have a heavy component of marketing around the problem you solve.   Having a testimonial subject recount in their own words which problem or challenge they were struggling with before using your product or service can be a very powerful way of marketing to new potential buyers.  

Example Questions:

  • Describe why you purchased this product?
  • How did the challenges you were struggling with before purchasing this product affect you personally?
  • What was the problem that you were trying to solve by using this product or service?
  • Compare and contrast the situation before and after you purchased this product?

Avenue #3: Emotional Reaction.  

In B2C products, the buyer is making a purchase often times on impulse and emotion.   What emotions does your buyer feel before and after they purchase your product?   As a result, most consumer marketers focus on evoking an emotional reaction in their advertising.   You can do the same with your testimonial subjects.   For example, if you are marketing diamond rings, you should focus your marketing and testimonials on the emotions around giving the ring.   How did it feel to get engaged?  What did the ring symbolize to you?   Crafting questions to elicit these emotions and how the product made the buyer feel should be your primary focus.

Example Questions:

  • How did you feel when you received the product?
  • Describe what you were feeling when you purchased the product?

Avenue #4: Customer Experience.  

Potential buyers want to know how they will be treated once they become a customer.   Plus, in more commoditized industries, customer service can be the main differentiator between competitors and why certain firms can charge higher prices.   As a result, you can showcase your superior customer experience by asking your customers to provide testimonials on how they have been treated and what has their customer experience been with your brand.  Let them be your advocates here.  

Example Questions:

  • What is your overall level of satisfaction with our company?
  • What was your experience when the product arrived?   Describe the unboxing.
  • Describe your interactions with our customer success team?  Were they prompt and professional?
  • How quickly were you able to get up and running on our product?
  • Describe the initial setup and installation of the product
  • What tips would you pass on to future customers?

Interested in how customer testimonials can propel  your business forward? Check out the other chapters in The Definitive Guide to Testimonials.