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Customer Testimonials: How to Put Your Customers to Work for You

“The crowd sometimes plays a tremendous role to give you wings and carry you to victory.” – Bela Karolyi

With those words, famed Romanian and U.S. gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi showed that he understood the power his “customers” had to take his gymnasts to even greater heights than just his coaching alone.

And that sentiment is one every e-commerce business owner should take to heart – your customers can be more powerful, persuasive champions for your brand than you can.

According to a survey sponsored by Zendesk, 90% of 1,046 participants said that positive online reviews (testimonials) did influence their buying decisions.

Here are four tips to help you put customer testimonials to work for you:

Authenticity Rules

If you want your prospects to believe the testimonials you include on your website, then you have to let them know the customers providing those testimonials really exist. Don’t be one of those companies that use copywriters to “make up” customer testimonials.

To make your customer testimonials believable use your customers’ real names along with their photos if they provide them as well as the names of their companies, if applicable. In other words, prove your customer testimonials are real up front so there is no room for doubt in the minds of your prospects. And here’s another tip – high profile customers can amp up your cred.

Here’s a great example of a customer testimonial from HP.

dreamworks hp testimonial

And this is an example from that uses a photo to accompany a testimonial. OK, so it’s not Danielle Maveal but it’s still pretty cool.

Forget the Empty Platitudes

Know what doesn’t make a great customer testimonial – one that praises your company profusely using a lot of empty rhetoric but doesn’t really say anything. For instance, “Awesome product. Lovin’ it. You guys rock.”

Not much there convinces a prospect to become a paying customer. Rather, top-notch customer testimonials get into the nitty gritty of a customer’s love affair with your company and your product. Your customers should talk about how your product helped them solve a particular problem; the benefits of your product; how your company went out of its way to satisfy their needs – details that your potential customers can identify with and embrace.

This testimonial from Zappos’ customer Paris H. illustrates this point perfectly.

paris zappos testimonial

Grab Your Prospects’ Attention

Just throwing a couple testimonials up on a web page ain’t gonna cut it. Not by a long shot. You have to do something to make your customer testimonials stand out without mucking things up.

You want the design of the testimonials to shout out, “Hey, look at me. I have some important stuff to tell you.” You want – no, you need – your potential customers to read the great things your customers have to say about you. You can do this in any number of ways including through color, typeface, and where you place them on the page.

Just take a look at Microsoft’s customer testimonial page for Office 365. Feast your eyes on the brilliant use of the color orange; the way in which Redmond uses a variety of typefaces, colors and designs for the names of the companies it’s promoting; as well as the use of bold and italics.

testimonial microsoft

More Isn’t Necessarily Better

There’s no reason you have to use a customer’s entire testimonial. You can certainly cut down a long review, just be sure you don’t change its meaning. The best way to do this is by quoting one line or two that portrays your company in the best light.

This brief testimonial on the Zappos website could very well have been edited some. But nevertheless, it still gets across the message that Zappos is a company that makes its customers’ shopping lives easier.

rachel zappos testimonial

So be sure to put your customers to work for you by including persuasive testimonials on your website. These complimentary endorsements will let your visitors see what your customers have to say about your company and your product – and convert them into loyal customers as well.

About the Author: Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. She has written about information technology for over 15 years. Her articles have appeared in such publications as Computerworld, ITWorld, CIO magazine, Tech Target, and others. She has over 20 years experience as an investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. She is also the published author of five true crime books. Rosencrance can be reached at

  1. I think this sentence says it all “Your customers should talk about how your product helped them solve a particular problem; the benefits of your product; how your company went out of its way to satisfy their needs –”

    What are the best times to ask for a testimonial?


  2. Linda Rosencrance Aug 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Rob, great question. For B2B companies, probably the best time to ask your customers for testimonials is shortly after you deliver your product or service (successfully, of course). However, give your customers time to familiarize themselves with your product or service and ask any necessary questions. Send an email or pick up the phone – people still do that, right? – and ask your happy customers to provide written or even video testimonials.

    B2C companies, on the other hand, can ask for feedback immediately. Send an email asking your customers to review your site for ease-of-use after they’ve completed their purchases. You can then send follow-up emails asking them to review the products they purchased.

    The key word when it comes to customer testimonials: Ask. You’d be surprised how powerful that one little word can be.

    Thanks for asking,



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