The Journey from Pain to Delight: A Case Study of Effective Testimonial

October 20, 2020

In a previous post we wrote about the one essential element of every testimonial:  the pain in which the client was mired prior to your intervention as the professional services provider.

Left on their own, the testimonials customers provide focus more on the qualities of the service provider and their work, not the pain they themselves were in before that work. Some of that may be psychological—who wants to go back and relive pain, right? I think, though, that clients asked to give an endorsement focus on what they think testimonials are all about:  the work quality of the services provider.

While the work of the services provider is obviously essential to any endorsement, the most effective testimonials are ones which have a defined story structure to them:

  • Customer Pain (as detailed and palpable as possible)
  • Service Provider Intervention
  • Delight and Relief

We recently helped one of our clients, Polyglot Labs, with such a testimonial, one which we captured and produced. Polyglot is a website development and custom software developer who works with creative agencies who don’t have complex web development talent in-house. In most cases, Polyglot’s clients are outsourcing a centerpiece of their client deliverable to a third party. If that third-party developer messes up, the blowback is on the agency who made the choice.

In this instance, Polyglot was engaged by D’lynne Plummer, Founder of the Atlanta-based creative services firm, Exponent Collaborative. We started our interview by discussing the pain she was in:

. . . . I mentioned at the start of this that at the time we had this larger website for the actual institute that we were trying to complete. And we had just hit a couple of - a pretty significant impasse. Partly, the client was very busy, obviously, with everything that was going on with COVID. And so, we weren't able to get the content when we wanted it. But honestly, on our end, what had been designed by a different team was so challenging that I will be honest - before I had been introduced to Polyglot, I was trying to find a firm to take it over. And no one would touch it. No one wanted this project.

And I was getting a little bit terrified and a little bit desperate. I really needed to turn it over to a team that could take it across the finish line. And so, once Polyglot had masterfully taken care of this global epidemic stat org website where that database map lives, I said, "If you would be willing to go on another journey with me, I would so appreciate it. Here's this complete mess. It's intended to look quite beautiful and function quite well. And unfortunately, that's not the reality when you get into the back end.

Let’s think about this situation for a second. D’lynne has a client counting on her to deliver, and all she has from the developer she originally hired is a “complete mess,” one so bad that no one else would touch it. She has a valuable client who is counting on her to deliver, and the state of the project is so dreadful that she is “terrified” and “desperate.”

The pain here is real and palpable. Most of us have been in circumstances where we’re counting on someone or some firm to come through for us, sometimes for a particularly important client or a project vital to our own business. We can identify with the pain of disappointment and panic D’lynne describes.

Next comes Polyglot's intervention:

So, I provided them some instruction, the credentials that they needed. And within two weeks, they transformed the back end of that site into something that the client can use, that I can use, that matches the design markup that we wanted, that looks really unique. I think it's a really special site. And the client was absolutely thrilled. We were able to launch that a couple of weeks ago. And now, that site is also receiving an enormous amount of traffic. And it's been live for several weeks and there have been no hiccups, no glitches, no concerns. Other than needing to move it to a private server as well, because half the country seems to be on it at the same time. So, I was just so delighted.

After detailing the intensity of the pain, the Polyglot’s solutions D’lynne describes are much more remarkable. If you heard that Polyglot had completed this project in two weeks without the context of knowing that what they inherited was a “complete mess,” the testimonial wouldn’t be nearly as effective.

Then comes the successful outcome:

It is not common to be able to turn a project over to someone else midstream and have it go well or even for them to be willing to do it. But given the need here, the importance of the project, the profile of the client, I think they were willing to take that risk. And they just did a tremendous job putting that site righting the ship and putting that site into the place it needed to be at in order to launch. So, I was relieved and thrilled.

It's this result where many unguided testimonials are centered. While these words are precious, they are made strikingly powerful because of the drama of the preceding journey, starting with the angst and pain, then walking through the solution.

You’re not always in a position to gather such a testimonial. Maybe the client won’t take the time, or maybe you don’t want to ask.

Yet when you’re in the fortunate position of a client offering a guided recounting of their experience, take them on that journey, from pain, to your intervention, to bliss. You’ll come out with a much more vibrant endorsement.


Image Credit:  JumpStory

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.

Leave a Comment