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You need to be careful about certain legal terms before using customer testimonials on your website. In this blog, we have provided a short legal guide that talks about this predicament.
Every businessperson loves to use customer testimonials on their website. The reason is that it builds trust amongst potential customers and builds goodwill in the market. However, not every businessperson follows ethics and posts authentic customer testimonials on their websites.
Certain companies shamelessly try to replicate the customer feedback from other websites in their industry, which is never a good practice. Such companies suffer a lot in terms of legal hassles in the long run. To avoid legal hassles while using customer testimonials on your website, you need to follow certain legal guidelines.
Having a salesy version of customer testimonials will pay in the short term, but in the long term, only authentic and genuine customer testimonials will help grow your business to the next level. Sincere and high-quality customer testimonials can help overcome the scepticism of your product in the mind of potential customers. They help prospective customers get on board who are unsure about the legitimacy of your product.
In this write-up, we have provided a brief overview of these legal guidelines that will help you to post authentic customer testimonials on your website. By legally doing everything, you ensure that effectiveness of your customer testimonial increase by manifolds.
Whenever you post a customer testimonial on your website, ensure that it is truthful and not misleading in any given way. On top of this, some specific rules need to be followed while using these customer testimonials on your website. Here are some of them.
You must disclose your connection with the endorser. This is a mandatory legal requirement from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The best way to move forward is by creating a policy in your organization wherein if the testimonial is received within your business; they should be segregated between employees, shareholders, and investors. Endorsers can choose to disclose their connections with your business by using hashtags on social media platforms.
Another example is that Amazon has issued a mandate for all its associates like business bloggers and bloggers who earn referral fees by placing links of their products on sale on Amazon.com on their websites to disclose they are Amazon affiliates. And they will get paid when users purchase a product from their promotion.
If you do not disclose this vital piece of information, it can be detrimental to your business. You can end up in legal hassles. Hence, it is always crucial to have all disclaimers and disclosures put across in simple language so that any layperson can understand you without any trouble. A prime example is using a short statement like – this review was funded by <<INSERT THE NAME OF THE COMPANY HERE>>.
Federal Trade Commission’s Revised Endorsement Guidelines says the most crucial aspect of the customer testimonial is that it needs to be truthful. The endorser’s honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences play a crucial role here. In other words, you cannot post customer testimonials of people who did not purchase anything from you.
For example, you see an advertisement for SmartKarrot, a customer success platform that shows how you can increase your new customers without reducing the number of existing ones. In the ad, the company shows that by using SmartKarrot they were able to achieve the end objective. If any other software is used to increase the number of new customers without reducing the existing ones, the prospective customers will not yield the same result.
The other thing depicted by FTC is that endorsements need to depict the actual experiences. In case it is not based on actual experiences, it needs to be put across in an easy-to-spot disclaimer. If you make any false statements, you can be held legally liable for trial.
In the introduction, I discussed this very thing. If you replicate a customer testimonial from another website in your industry, you can end up on a legal trial. So, if you find a good testimonial of your product on some other site, do not simply copy, and paste it on your website. Most of the time, sites have a clause in their Terms of Services stating that user-generated content like testimonials and feedback are owned by the user and licensed to the website.
So, if you copy and paste the testimonial of some other site on your website, you end up infringing the intellectual rights of the person who wrote the testimonial. It is not the ethical way to proceed ahead by posting someone’s else testimonial on your website.
The best resort in such situations is to use links that direct to these review sites. This way, you can safeguard yourself from GDPR laws.
Writing subjective claims like – I loved the product or had a wonderful time using SmartKarrot is fine as long as they are truthful. But objective claims like – I improved my customer onboarding by 150% using SmartKarrot need to be backed with proof. Without the proof, you can end up in a legal coup that can prove detrimental to your company. Hence, as much as possible, try to back the testimonials you put on your website with proof.
Always have a legal document signed on the dotted line by the customer before posting their testimonial on your website. Having a written approval is always great as it saves you from any legal hassles. Also, chances are, the customer might want to retract their testimonial in the future. In case you have made them sign a contract, it gives you the liberty to project the customer testimonial for the specific duration mentioned in the contract. Once the contract ends, you may need to remove the customer testimonial.
Q 1: What are the things that need to be taken into consideration while using customer testimonials on the website?
A 1: According to FTC guidelines, here are some of the things that you need to take care while using customer testimonials on your website:
Q 2: Why is it important to have customer testimonials on your website?
A 2: In the B2B SaaS world, the only to get an edge over your competitors is by showcasing how your customers resolved their problems using your product. Prospective customers find the testimonial page quite useful while researching for the right product before purchasing it.
Q 3: What are the qualities of a good customer testimonial?
A 3: An effective customer testimonial can prove to be decisive in giving a necessary push to the conversion rate and make new net customers. But not every customer testimonial is effective. Here are the desirable qualities that a good customer testimonial should have:
Q 4: What are some of the best practices to create effective customer testimonials to win prospective customers?
A 4: Here are some of the best practices to create effective customer testimonials to increase customer conversion rate:
Always keep in mind that any false claims you make in the customer testimonial can make you pay ten times in a legal coup. Adhere to the guidelines issued by FTC and ensure that all the customer testimonials on your website are 100% authentic and original that back your product usability.
In addition to this, ensure that the endorsers disclose their affiliation with your company. This can authenticate the customer testimonial and go a long way in securing the trust in the minds of website visitors.
Once you follow the FTC protocols mentioned in this blog, you can save yourself from any legal coup or penalties from any governing bodies that check the authenticity of customer testimonials on your website.
From the bottom of my heart, I pray that you always stay safe from the legal hassles of any discrepancies in your customer testimonials.32
Dattatraya Shetty is an IT Professional with 2 Decades of experience in areas of Product Development, Implementation & Service Delivery Management. As the Head of Implementations and SOC Compliance in Smartkarrot he is on a mission to provide relishing customer experience.
Published May 24, 2022, Updated February 28, 2023
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