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Encourage Client Loyalty Through Testimonials and Letters of Recommendation

Updated on October 23, 2012
Photo by mpclemens CC BY 2.0
Photo by mpclemens CC BY 2.0 | Source

One of the keys to success in business is developing loyalty among customers. Getting customers to give you repeat business or clients to keep using your firm for your services can prove easier than bringing in brand-new customers.

That’s why brand loyalty has always been important to major retail stores and the big consumer goods makers.

For instance, Campbell’s Soup wants shoppers to buy a can of its soup. But much better to the company are shoppers who are repeat customers. Wouldn’t you rather build up a clientele that, week after week, grocery shopping trip after grocery shopping trip, picks up a couple of cans of your brand of soups?

The same principle applies to service sectors. An accountant (or lawyer or landscaper or interior decorator, etc.) enjoys greater success if he or she serves the same customers over time. And, of course, loyal customers will more likely refer those businesses they trust and with which they are satisfied.

Banks and credit card companies build customer rewards programs. So does Starbucks. So does Panera. So does the local eatery that has a weekly drawing of that week’s customer business cards to win a free lunch. So does the local tree service that gives you a price break the next time after you’ve referred a friend to the company.

In business, there’s no substitute for a loyal, satisfied clientele. This will make or break your business. Repeat business and customer loyalty are crucial.

Customers loyal to your store, brand, or services who return again and again and who refer others to you add up to a larger and growing customer base, less attrition, more transactions, more referrals, and more revenue.

That is, customer loyalty adds to your bottom line.

Let’s consider one tool for promoting client loyalty while also giving you a marketing asset. It’s especially useful in the services sector, where you don’t have quite the same tangible product as does a seller of consumer goods.


One Bird, Two Stones

Just as in sales, a key part of success in client retention and loyalty goes beyond facts and the rational. Emotional attachment also plays a role.

Retaining a client over time could get harder in some instances. Say you have a consulting business and have worked for a particular client company for several years. It could become less obvious to the client that your firm still adds value. It’s a form of the “what have you done for me lately” syndrome.

Or maybe the client suspects you don’t give quite as good a level of service since your business has expanded its number of clients. Perhaps a competitor came in and made a pitch to replace you and it’s gotten him or her to thinking.

Like the B.B. King blues hit says, maybe the client is feeling “the thrill is gone.” He or she might have lost some of the emotional devotion to you that’s often strongest at the start of any relationship.

What can you do tohelp reengage your client’s feelings of good will and commitment toward you and your business?

There are ways to stir clients’ emotions favorably toward yourself. One idea, which serves two purposes, is to ask your client to rededicate his or her positive view to you.

Get the client to articulate your value. You can ask your clients to affirm your value to them. How? By asking them to write a testimonial or a letter of recommendation or reference.

You may suggest specific instances or achievements or experiences with the client. Or you may offer ideas of qualities you’d like the recommendation to highlight.

The exercise of crafting a testimonial of how you have helped them causes your clients to think back on facts — their experiences with you, your services to them, the ways you added value.

This recollection of the facts will likely stimulate their feelings about those specific events and interactions with you.

They’ll feel anew the warmth of securing a deal you structured, saving money on taxes because of your preparing their tax returns or suggesting a certain tax-saving strategy, or reflecting on the consistent quality of customer service you’ve provided.

Thus, both the rational and the emotional come together when you seek a reference or recommendation or testimonial letter — to your benefit.

The letter is the stone. The renewed warm feelings toward you in the process is one bird. What’s the second bird?

It’s gaining a written item you can use in marketing your services. You can brag about your business, your talents, and the value you’d add to a prospective client and not overcome his or her natural skepticism.

It’s a lot easier for prospective clients to believe what you’re telling them about your abilities and your value proposition if they see others affirming your claims. The testimonials of satisfied customers will lend credibility. Why else do you think so many TV commercials feature real customers sharing their story of a positive experience with a particular business?


Additional Thoughts

As discussed here, you can benefit from soliciting letters of recommendation or reference from your satisfied customers. A stack of these makes it hard for your prospects to discount your marketing pitch. (Of course, tell them up front that you intend to share copies with others.)

Be sure these letters are written on company letterhead, have an executive’s signature, and include the executive’s name and title. The best ones for your usage reproduce crisply on a color copier.

But you aren’t limited to letters from clients. They may give you permission to post electronic copies of their letters on your website.

Or they may let you record a short video in which the person relates the same testimonial about you and the value of your services. A video can be posted on your website, YouTube, or made part of a PowerPoint presentation.

Finally, you should ask your obliging clients to make referrals. Word of mouth remains the best advertising. After reinvesting themselves in you by providing a reference letter, they may be especially inclined to do this. So, solicit referrals from your satisfied clientele.

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