I regularly address this point in my talk about ‘How to make more money from your tax work’ (a popular session for smaller firms of accountants).
The easiest way to obtain the sort of testimonials you want is to…
..ASK for them. That’s right. Just contact clients (past or present) and ask them for feedback. There are various less direct ways you can do this if you are embarrassed by the idea or if you think it’s not ‘professional’.
I don’t think it’s professional to provide a service without making it clear that you want to do a good job and to receive feedback to ensure you have done all that was required to the client’s satisfaction.
Here’s one of the first testimonials I received last year. I’m still feel very proud whenever I read it:
I have known Mark Lee for almost 15 years. He is a first-rate speaker and seminar leader and has a real in-depth knowledge of the accountancy profession. His knowledge and experience also make him an excellent consultant.
– Chris Frederiksen, Chairman The 2020 group
If you’re like many of the accountants I know you will initially be puzzled by my suggestion to ask for testimonials in respect of your professional services. Surely it’s dangerous to ask for feedback from clients. What if they weren’t happy? What if they have a complaint? What if they won’t say anything good?
Well, in any of those situations the response you receive presents you with a wonderful opportunity to rectify the position.
Let’s be honest. You are hardly likely to ask a client for a testimonial if you expect a negative response. So if you find out that a client who you thought was ‘happy’ is actually dissatisfied you can do something about it. If you hadn’t asked you would have continued in blissful ignorance assuming that ‘no complaint = happy client’.
Unhappy clients tell a lot of people what they think of the adviser who has provided less than satisfactory service. Why? Because it’s human nature, sadly, to share complaints more frequently than to share stories of excellent service. In the same way the media is full of ‘bad’ news stories rather than ‘good news’.
You don’t want your clients to be bad-mouthing you, especially if you thought they were happy so it’s really helpful to KNOW whether no news really is good news and whether or not your clients were happy with the service you provided.
Asking for testimonials and not getting them is a SIGN that something isn’t right and it’s upto you how you deal with that situation. But a fear of such a response is not a good reason for holding back from asking for a testimonial.