How to make the best customer video testimonials

We are now used to the power of the visual medium and the popularity of web videos. When a customer lands on your website – trying to quickly get to grips with what it is you do, and how they can access that – what is more convenient than a short video (no more than two minutes), that shows, rather than tells, the customer all about it?

One particularly useful form of web video is the customer testimonial. Thinking psychologically, we tend to think positively towards companies with which other fellow human beings have had a good experience. Think of the success of Trip Advisor, or Trust Pilot… we are much more likely to make a purchasing decision based on what our peers say, and think (irrespective of whether we have actually met them or not, or are likely to get on with them). It’s a case of building trust with your potential customer using a link to a previous happy customer. It can often be this commendation that provides the ‘push’ that turns a potential customer into an actual customer.

10 steps to Testimonial success

Building on this psychology, if you are considering filming a customer testimonial there are many things to consider, which is why we have created this useful 10-point guide to the sorts of things to be thinking about:

1 Tell a story
People love hearing about other people… it is the very root of most narratives. The end viewer therefore needs to connect to the testimonial and share in the same story, and the potential for their story to end similarly happily. So film a ‘talking head’ with a customer and simply ask them to explain how your company helped them.

2 Plan

Don’t simply grab someone as they are trying to leave your business premises, and shove them in front of a camera. Prepare your testimonial… make the subject of your talking head feel relaxed, comfortable and ready to talk. If you have persuaded someone to give up their time it is likely you will only have one chance to get the testimonial from them, so don’t rush it.

3 Send the questions to the interviewee

Connected to point 2, if you give yourself as good amount of time, you can write down the questions you are going to ask and send them to the interviewee, ahead of the filming. That will help them organise their thoughts, and avoid wasting time during the shoot itself.

4 Focus on key messages

Think about the rationale for the video and the end consumer/viewer. What are you trying to get across about your business? Drill these down to a few key messages that you might want to share at a meeting, or in liaison with a client, to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to what (you hope!) your interviewee will say.

talking heads testimonial video5 Search possible scenarios

The ‘talking head’ centre screen will obviously be the main focus of your film, but also think about what you could do with the context of the shot – the background, for instance. You may be able to make subtle suggestions about the quality and professionalism of your operation by the detail in the background of the shot. So scout locations around the business and choose the one that shows you in the best light.

6 Keep it natural

Although responses can be prepared, make it feel that the interviewee is making it up on the spot, rather than reading a prepared quote.

7 Allow time for elaboration

Post-production, it is easier to cut out footage than finding you don’t have enough to work with. So if your interviewee is naturally verbose, do allow them to expand on what they are saying – you can always cut it down later.

8 Keep it human

Again, don’t make it forced and unnatural. Let your interviewee speak honestly, and from the heart. The end viewer will respond much better to a story that feels natural, and human.

9 Put it in context

Although screen time is limited you might be able to ‘cutaway’ to an edit that shows your business – perhaps the premises, staff or products. This helps illustrate and bring to life what your interviewee may be saying in their testimonial.

10 It’s all in the Post-production

Make sure you are proficient in editing, or use a professional person to edit down the film so that the final product is as smooth and professional as possible. And remember – that final film is likely to be two minutes or under, so keep it tight, but with a natural rhythm.

In conclusion… think of the Christmas Queen’s Speech: yes, the main focus is Her Majesty, but equally, it is evident the film wasn’t shot in a Wetherspoon’s on an iPhone. If you bear these points in mind, you will be on your way to a great testimonial video.