How to Ask for Customer Testimonials in a Non-Cheesy Way

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Written By: author image John Hughes

Turning customer support into a profit centre rather than a money pit is a recurring theme here on the blog, and there’s a lot of gold to be found once you fully embrace this mind shift – particularly when it comes to gathering customer testimonials.

Despite their effectiveness, a shocking amount of businesses either don’t display testimonials at all, or do so in an incredibly unconvincing way. For far too many firms, the whole idea ends up as little more than an afterthought.

In this piece, we’ll help you to turn gathering and displaying testimonials into a streamlined process that delivers authentic endorsements. We’ll firstly step through how to sift through support interactions for potential candidates, then we’ll help you to best leverage them on your site.

Let’s kick things off with a quick word on the general approach, and what not to do.

Don’t Fall Into the Generic Testimonials Trap

Before we get into how best to gather testimonials, let’s briefly consider what makes them so useful in the first place. An effective testimonial is sending your users a very specific message: this company, product, or service solves specific problems for people just like you.

At the risk of stating the obvious, you’re going to need a certain level of detail to make these things fly – but what does that mean in practice? Let’s start with two fundamental points to bear in mind:

  1. You’re using full names and real people. Ideally there’s an actual picture of the person making the recommendation involved.
  2. The testimonial doesn’t just detail what you did. It explains why it mattered to the customer in terms of solving a pain point for them.

Once you’ve incorporated those, go a little deeper and start thinking about ways that your customer base is segmented. Though there’s certainly a place for general hymns to your overall excellence, you want to be backing those up with hyper-focused testimonials that precisely map to the distinct categories of people you’re targeting.

Next, clear a little time before you begin the process of gathering testimonials to spec out the customer personas you want to be covering, and gather specific use cases where your product or services might have knocked it out of the park.

Analytics in our own KnowAll theme can help you pinpoint areas of customer concern.
Analytics in <a href=httpsherothemescomthemesknowall wordpress knowledge base>our own KnowAll theme<a> can help you pinpoint areas of customer concern

A quick review of usage patterns and search queries in your knowledge base (as made simple by our KnowAll theme) will also give you targets to aim at, and some useful insight into what customers are seeking reassurance on.

Make It a Process and Mine Your Customer Support Queues

Ok, once you’ve done a little prep, you’re ready to start hoovering up those happy stories. The way to go about this is not to randomly spam your entire customer base straight out of the gate hoping that someone will bite. Instead, you want to be looking at this in terms of process – and customer support is a superb place to start.

Begin by making it clear to the support team that being actively on the lookout for testimonial opportunities is part of their job. There is of course a ‘panning for gold’ element here. Not everyone contacting your support team is going to be happy after all – but those interactions represent the front line of actual, authentic user experience.

The nuggets are in there, you just have to look!
The nuggets are in there you just have to look

To avoid getting tangled up in the weeds, make this a two-part deal for your support team at the outset:

  1. Ask everyone to do a quick mental sweep of instant opportunities that spring to mind based on past interactions.
  2. Establish an actual process going forward where opportunities are reviewed on a weekly or monthly basis.

Naturally, you’ll need to back all this up with tools. Some sort of low-friction system needs to be in place for actually capturing these opportunities. This could be as simple as adding a tag to your existing software, or quickly keeping track in a tool such as Trello.

Finally, don’t overthink things here – just make sure everyone has access and is actively contributing to whatever solution you go with. With the support team up and running on your system, you’re then in a great position to roll out the same process to other departments.

How to Display and Build Out From Your Testimonials

Once you have a process for harvesting testimonials in place, you’ll naturally want to bring them to people’s attention. Rather than simply plastering them all over your site, you should think of them as seasoning that can be added to the dish of any individual site area.

There’s no point in trying to create a perfect, all-singing, all-dancing testimonial display strategy straight out of the gate. Look to the following practical staged sequence as a potential roadmap:

  1. Identify a small number of key testimonials that can be directly integrated into your homepage.
  2. Create a dedicated testimonials section on your site that can be filled in and broken out by category over time.
  3. Start looking at naturally working individual testimonials into specific pages where they have a high relevance.
  4. Build on what you already have by looking to expand individual testimonials into case studies, which can either be directly displayed or utilized as lead magnets in their own right.


Putting together non-cheesy testimonials is all about taking the idea seriously to begin with, then making sure you actually have a detailed strategy for tackling it. Our sequence is by no means the only way to go about the process, but it will give you a manageable way of putting authentic testimonials on a schedule within a matter of months.

Let’s recap the stages to close things out:

  1. Get clear on your potential types of testimonials by doing some preparatory thinking about audiences and use cases you can highlight.
  2. Leverage the authentic experiences in your customer support queues by using your team to pilot the process of testimonial gathering.
  3. Give yourself an implementable on-site sequence in terms of actually displaying testimonials to your audience.

Got any tips of your own to share about testimonial gathering? Get in touch via the comments section below and let us know!

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