Have you ever wondered why so many testimonials seem like they came out of a giant testimonial factory somewhere in the deep dark corners of the internets?
Some massive monster of a machine churning out praise after praise, shaped from the same overused mold!
I think this is because many of these are at least partly written by the service provider herself (yes I know shocking!) simply because the customer was either too busy or because seller was just too scared that the words will not be able to capture the sheer awesomeness of her work.
And I can’t really blame her (even if I do silently judge her)
People are horrible at recalling experiences…even great ones.
Even if the client experience was as special as holding her first-born, it is very rare that the brain retains the essence of that experience for too long. Our brains are terrible at reconstructing memories and that sucks for getting testimonials.
Wanna know what affects memories?
- What happens after – any event that happens after changes the memory of the original event
- What happens in parallel– Something that happened at two separate events but during the same time frame could be fused into one.
- What never happened – Our brain sometimes fills in memory gaps with random unreal events simply because they fit the person’s previous experiences.
How Words can Actually Change People’s Memories:
The words used to recall past experiences are super important and can actually change people’s memories. I strongly suggest you check out the work of Elizabeth Loftus who proved how a change of words can influence the recall of events in eye witness testimonies.
In the experiments Loftus showed a video clip of an automobile accident followed by a series of questions about the accident. The way she worded her questions about the speed of the car (using the word smash instead of hit for example) had a massive impact on the recall of the participants. Those who were asked “how fast do you think the car was going when it hit the other car” estimated the speed to be almost half of those who were asked the same question but using the word smashed instead of hit.
Can you imagine what this means for testimonials?
Your customer will reconstruct the memory of their experience on their own, unless you support the creation of that memory.
Take a moment to grasp that!
They need your help in recreating the memory of the experience and only when you do that well, can you hope to get testimonials that are impressive, capture the spirit of your awesomeness and are genuine.
You know what you need to do right?
Rule Number One: Ask for the testimonial as soon after the use as possible, when the memory is top of the mind and mutual feelings are warm and fluffy!
Rule Number Two: Always always always send them a template, a questionnaire or a fill-out form where they can share their experience with you on different things. This helps nudge their brains into recreating memories of specific aspects.
So no more one liners requesting them to “share their thoughts on the experience” but a detailed “leading” questionnaire that asks for their opinion on everything from effectiveness to ease of use to professionalism. Make sure you ask questions about specific features you wish to highlight in your marketing messages.
Rule Number Three: Use high emotion words that help aid better, more positive memory recall. Don’t ask about how this experience has “changed” but how it has “transformed” their approach to life. Instead of saying if the course has made her more “happy”, try saying if it has made her more “joyful”.
Small tweaks like these could mean that she will recall the experience for what it really was (hopefully a positive one) and not a watered down version.
Do try these tips and don’t forget to send me the testimonial you get after using these three rules….AFTER you have proudly displayed it on your site. I will be waiting!