The Power of a Testimonial (and How to Get More)
By Julie Pankey

Do you ever wonder how you can instantly increase credibility with potential clients and draw them into your business like bees to honey? I have a few favorite tactics that can help you achieve that goal, and one of them is through a solid strategy of collecting referrals and testimonials.

I have worked in the spa and wellness industry for 28 years now, and I have spent that time fostering relationships and building a network of trusted industry colleagues to learn and grow from. If you’re a spa industry veteran like me, you might often feel like you have seen and done it all. I know firsthand it can sometimes be slightly uncomfortable asking for testimonials or referrals, but once you get that glowing testimonial or enthusiastic referral, you will see that it is all worth it! The formula really is this simple: People buy from brands they like, know and trust. One of the quickest ways to establish that “like, know and trust” connection is through word-of-mouth referrals.

Imagine for a moment that you are looking for a social media marketer to help you grow your business. You do research, you speak to several companies who each tell you why they are the best solution for your business, and you end up more confused than you started. They each have a great website and their work looks promising. They each have been in business for a good amount of time, but there is one big difference between the of your closest friends uses one of them and cannot stop singing their praises. You have seen for yourself the success she’s found with this company. So, who are you most likely to choose? Of course—you are more likely to choose the company that comes equipped with a personal referral and an exciting testimonial. The same is true for your business, and spas and resource partners alike will benefit from implementing these simple strategies.

The Best Compliment

Referrals are important because most of us trust the recommendation of a friend or family member—or even just someone who is looking for the same kind of product or service that we are. But how can your spa or business easily (and tastefully) ask for and receive referrals? Here are a few of my favorite ways:

1. Partner with other local businesses that are willing to make referrals. Partnerships can be a huge asset to your business. Just think for a minute about the hotels or inns located in your area that do not have spas. Creating a relationship with these businesses and treating them like gold so that they will make referrals is easy and effective. Or how about creating a referral program with the florist up the street? You share their information with your customers, and they do the same with theirs. Flowers and spa are a great partnership.
2. Create a customer referral program that rewards referrals—after all, everyone likes to get a little something extra. I like a “give and get” program: Refer a friend or family member and they will get X number of dollars or X percent off their first appointment. Once they have received their first service, you'll receive X off your next visit.
3. Create an email campaign post-service that includes a contest (this can even be part of the post-treatment email). In this contest they refer one friend and if the friend books and receives a treatment in the next month, they will be entered to win a prize of some kind. And when it comes to the prize, make it juicy! Remember, we want these referrals, so it is worth forking over a meaningful reward.

4. Offer an incentive to your best customers—you know who they are: those top 50 customers who spend the most time and money with your spa or company. These individuals are the backbone of your business. They already like you, know you and trust you, and they will be happy to be your brand advocate. Human nature, of course, makes them want something in return. Offer an incentive to them and make it a good one: 50 percent off or a free blow out with your next service, for example. Send a special email to these customers letting them know they are important and help you sustain your business. Let them know how much you value them and their referral.

Once you have people offering referrals for your business, your next focus can be on getting testimonials from these same customers, making referrals to their friends, family and colleagues.

How to get testimonials and how to use them so they can benefit your business?

Simply put, your customers trust each other just a little bit more than they trust you. Of course you think your services are amazing! But to hear others talk about how amazing your services are in a testimonial will instantly help establish your business’s credibility and make potential customers feel more comfortable booking a service. So, how can we get credible testimonials?

1. In your post-service email campaign, be sure to either insert a brief survey or a spot for a review. You can ask permission to use any as testimonials, but be sure to dig a little deeper so you can get something more genuine and heartfelt.
2. Set up Google Alerts and monitor social media mentions. Do you know you can participate in and get notifications about conversations pertaining to your spa or brand? Or how about a question on Facebook such as, “can you recommend the best place for a facial in Portland, ME.” These are good places to listen, participate and take good comments to be used as future testimonials (with permission of course).
3. Simply ask. Your top 50 customers are your raving fans. They support you and your business by being top customers. It is okay to just ask them directly if they would be willing to offer a testimonial.
4. Swap testimonials with other local businesses. Remember the concierge at the local hotel without a spa or the florist we talked about earlier? You can do testimonials for each other as well.

When your clients make referrals and offer testimonials, do not forget to make it simple for them and show genuinely how much you appreciate their efforts. The goal is create a relationship with your customers so that they want to be brand advocates and cannot wait to tell their friends and family about their amazing experiences. It is important to remember that it is okay to offer an incentive for a referral but a testimonial gets a little trickier. My rule is to incentivize referrals and show gratitude for testimonials.

Give your customers the opportunity to become eager, shout-it-from-the-rooftop fans. Give them the opportunity to be more than just customers but brand advocates, which builds trust and credibility as well as an important emotional connection with both existing clientele and your next potential loyal guest.


Julie Pankey is an internationally recognized spa director, consultant and wellness tourism expert. With over 28 years of experience, she has contributed to the development of multiple brands within the health, wellness, spa and tourism sectors. As a thought leader and innovator, Julie created the SpaHive Community to connect spa and wellness professionals through a private online community, education sessions, pop-up boutiques and special events.