How can testimonials help clients?

Parent / Student TestimonialsI had been struggling with this issue of testimonials, and then I had a breakthrough.

I DIDN’T want to ask people to toot my horn, I wanted them offered freely.  And I also realize, when I thought about testimonials I’d read, many of them didn’t inspire me.

And I thought about the times when people have offered appreciation for my work, and even times when I’ve gotten to see clearly that I was giving immense value, even if the person I was helping didn’t have a clue about what was going on.  Sometimes I’d hear from them months later and they’d say, “Now I really appreciate what you said, and the other people I thought were helping me ended up not to be doing what they seemed to do.”  Sometimes things they’ve said, even criticisms, have clarified for me what I offer and helped me to sense my value many times more powerfully than what I even had had awareness of.

This gave me the idea that I want–a new kind of testimonial.

Something that is inherently meaningful and informative, inspiring, uplifting, clarifying. Not merely praising something in a general way, but adding to the conversation in a second voice, and helping a user of the product or service offered to understand it more fully and then be able to make more use of it than she/he could before.

Testimonials about some of my favorite innovative resources have also occasionally been very helpful too–sometimes they’ve helped me understand or trust the value or potential application of the resource being talked about more strongly or more clearly than I’d understood or trusted it before.  Hearing another’s experience reinforced my own trust of my experience.

Many testimonials have not.  I’ve read them and thought, Wow, that’s really vague, or, It really looks like the person just asked for testimonials and got some and hammered them into place and they’re just kind of taking up space.  Woudln’t it be nice if that person had felt free to just shelve the whole matter and ignore the advice of “You have to have testimonials”?

But what has been never has to determine what will be.

So I asked several of my former students for feedback, straight and simple.  How are you doing?  How did the work we did impact things for you in the long term, in the years since we worked together?  And if I sensed they were open to it, I asked in some way for them to share their story of learning to think deliberately, or of learning to write what they really thought.  What was it like before, what happened, and what is it like now?

I feel really good about this innovation, if it is one, or reinvention if others have done it before.

Testimonials

I also would like to add that  when I asked Henry (Tutoring Match’s Director) for some input about this, he helpfully suggested that people would appreciate having their opinions valued.  And, ironically, a few days after I put up some testimonials on my profile, my own teacher asked me for testimonials for her web site.  And I was glad to be asked.

I was glad to have an opportunity to reflect on and articulate precisely what it was about the lessons (in Alexander Technique) that had been benefitting me, and what it was about the modality itself that worked for me.  More even than expressing my own opinion, I was glad to be able to focus more on what was of use to me.  I believe I will be more focused on getting out of the lessons what I desire most, out of the panoply of possible benefits.

I’ll close with a little feedback to my Inner Teacher: I appreciate the precision with which you match what you offer to the desires I have to learn, with how you find what’s outside the box as well as what’s in it, and how you are indifferent to the box.  I love that you find many wonderful things in many boxes that others have drawn, and then when time comes for me to expand to find more learning, you give me a clear nudge toward, “There’s more than this.”  Infinite knowledge really is available to humanity, you tell me, there is always more to learn.

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