If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? It’s a philosophical quandary that has perplexed procrastinating philosophers for years… What you might not realise is that the original version of the question goes like this: If a happy customer pays you a compliment and no one is around to hear it, did they make a difference?

Happy customers make for happy businesses. They also offer a unique marketing opportunity in the form of an unbiased, experienced, quality testimonial!

Testimonials are an incredibly effective and handy way of channeling a happy customer’s enthusiasm into drawing more and more customers to your business. But not all customers present their testimonial as a willing offering. Some are reluctant, some are disinterested, and some don’t even realize they can!

So setting aside the option of asking your Mum to write a testimonial for you, how can you successfully ask a happy customer to provide you with one?

Technique 1: The Suave Suggestion

The Suave Suggestion is when you subtly slide the question into conversation with your customer. If you have a customer who might balk at having to provide a testimonial, let it occur naturally and then ask for permission to use it.

Scene: You and your customer are having a heart to heart. They’ve expressed how pleased they are that the new laptop battery you’ve given them lasts three times as long as before. Now you want that testimonial to fly from their face and onto your web page. You can slip your suggestion into your response like this:

I’m delighted to hear that you’re happy with your new battery; may I include your feedback on our website and attribute it to you?

The important part is to articulate the suggestion itself in such a way that it’s as if you are doing them the favour. The words “include” and “attribute” sound far better than “record” and “use”.

Technique 2: The Front-Cover Feature

In a similar way to The Suave Suggestion, The Front-Cover Feature has you outright asking for a testimonial. The difference here is when to ask.

Here’s the scenario: your happy customer is going into detail telling you how happy they are with what you provided, talking about themselves and their situation… yada yada yada…

If this customer is showing all the signs of an extrovert who would revel in the sight of their name plastered across Facebook, you then have the perfect opportunity to say:

We love to feature happy customers on our Facebook page; would you like to provide a testimonial to be featured in our next post?

By using the word “feature”, you’ve done the business equivalent of handing a wannabe-pop star the mic at karaoke night and shouting: “All eyes are on you!”

Of course, not everyone loves being the centre of attention. Before you zero that spotlight in on them, make sure that they’re the right type of person.

Sometimes, however, the only way of asking for a testimonial is by not asking…

Technique 3: Institute Incentives

What’s in it for them? Why should they care about providing you with a testimonial?

Offer your customers an incentive. Prizes, raffle draws, discounts… sometimes all a customer needs is a little bit of an indirect push and the room to make the decision without you on the other end of a telephone, email or counter.

The incentive does not always have to be immediate either – you can incentivise them with an option to submit feedback on your website, or through a link in the signature of your email. Just complement it with a snazzy line about how their testimonial will help you provide better service for them and you’ll be surprised just how many customers want to be heard without being seen!

10c Happiness Calvin & Hobbs

So back to our original question: If a happy customer pays you a compliment and no one is around to hear it, did they make a difference?

Well with these three strategies, we’ve armed you with a figurative megaphone to place in the figurative mouths of any type of happy customer you come across, so that everyone can hear.

The important thing is to remember that a happy customer can become an incredibly profitable customer by extracting a quality testimonial to reach the eyes and ears of the public.

For more handy hints, tips and tactics about how to deal with happy customers, check out our series of Canity training videos, right here.