So what is the difference between a testimonial and a critical appraisal?
As you probably figured out, a testimonial helps your customer lavish unfettered praise on you. And critical appraisal allows that very same customer tell you how to make things better. Mix the two and you're headed for a cocktail that may not be pleasant at all.
And the reason it's not pleasant is because customers are easily confused when you mix the testimonial with the critical appraisal
They tend to want to be helpful. They want you to tighten up things and make fewer mistakes in future. So when you mix the two, you get more criticism than praise. And this leaves you quite unhappy, because your testimonial is not looking so rosy. But it also leaves the customer a bit rattled, because they intended to give you praise and criticism-just not lumped together.
Of course you can easily solve the problem by asking the right questions
I tend to start with asking for criticism first. Yes, it's "terrible" to hear criticism when you're so on the lookout for praise, but there's a reason why criticism is the first choice. The customer needs to get all the issues out of their system. Once they do, they're looking to balance that a bit. And the praise becomes more rich, more detailed.
But the results still depend on the questions you ask
So, for instance, on our Headlines course, I ask these questions when I want criticism:
1) Elements that could be improved
2) Suggestions and ideas
3) About the course itself
4) Anything you want to add
Once you've gotten the customer to give you their critical appraisal, they're happier to give you their lavish praise
Now you ask them the six questions that get great testimonials.
1) What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product/service?
2) What did you find as a result of buying this product/service?
3) What specific feature did you most like about this product/service?
4) Can you give three other benefits that you got from this product/service?
5) Would you recommend this product/service to someone else? If so, why?
6) Anything else you'd want to add?
Now these are the core questions-and yes, you have to adapt them a bit
The first question is the trickiest of all. The customer needs warming up a bit. And they may not quite understand the question. The goal of the first question is simply a before and after question. So if you don't want to use the "obstacle" term, then don't. Ask the client what their situation was "before" and then follow it with the next question (that's Question 2), which brings you the "after" scenario. Then dig deeper into the added benefits and roll on until you've finished all the six questions.
Let's take an example of what you should receive when you ask the first question.
Here's the response we get when we ask customers about the "obstacle" for the headline course
Before: I've been writing an Ezine for seven years and over the last year had seen a serious decline in my open rates - a condition I wanted to reverse. Additionally my writing had become "stale," and it was taking a toll as my enthusiasm for writing was waning - rapidly. Frankly I knew I needed to kick-start my writing engine - because if I didn't I knew I'd chuck in the towel and I just couldn't do that. Before taking the headline course I'd write headlines using a "seat of the pants" method and that was getting me "seat of the pants" results - I was struggling and struggling is no fun.
And as you can see the praise is just going to flow from there on, as long as you steer the customer carefully down those six questions. But first, start with the critical appraisal. Let the client get their feedback out of their system. Then ask the testimonial-based questions and you'll get a warm, detailed response that's not mixed up with feedback.
Getting testimonials and feedback isn't hard to do
But you don't want to mix the two.
It's not a margarita, you know!
Sean de Souza