Can I list some of our clients on our website without their knowledge or do we need any specific permission from them?
I understand that it's always the best practice get a specific permission first from the company but in some big companies it's a pain to reach to the right person and get such permission and that's the exact kind of client that we want to show off. Such as governments.
Shall we add something to our licence agreement on during sign up / order?
Happy customers are one of your best sales tools, so you want to keep your customers happy. This means, among other things, maintaining great communications with them. One element of this communication is talking about things like endorsements.
Look at things from your customers' point of view. Their name is part of their brand, which they are proud of just like you are of yours. They want to control and protect usage of their brand. If you want to use their name -- their brand -- in endorsements, it's proper to seek permission. When they grant permission, then both of you are happy. You'll be happy to have a great endorsement, and they'll be happy to publicize the fact that they found a great product.
Standard practice in all the ventures I've been in has been to spell out endorsement and publicity policies in our customer contracts. This way the customers know that you'd like to do this. Some customers won't want you to use their name, not because they're unhappy, but because that's their own policy. You should respect their wishes if that's what they desire.
So, in short, tell customers you'd like to do this. Some will be flattered and happily allow you to do this. Others will not want you to use their name, and you should follow their wishes. And no matter what, put it in writing.
Best of luck!
Many large companies have internal policies that prohibit endorsement of other companies' products or services. When I worked in the enterprise software sector, we had to be very careful about using these companies as public references.
It's not that we were worried about legal action. We simply wanted to keep on the good side of these large customer relationships. We hoped they'd buy more software from us in the future.
Annoying your customers is never good strategy. I'd recommend always checking first.
Along with listing who is using your service, you would also want to display their feedback alongside their logo/name. You've no choice but communicate with them for the feedback part.
While most companies would love the free publicity, its extremely rare that some companies might get offended. If so, they'd ask you to remove it than taking some serious action.
And yeah some companies have a similar clause in their legal agreements but no one really cares.
Based on my experience, mid to large size company would not let you use the applications you've developed for them until approved by their PR department. You should take this very seriously without making any assumptions like "I did a good job, and they'll be happy to share the news about it with the rest of the world".
While approval process can take months, you can put the logo of your customers in your company's Web page "Our Clients".