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How to Ask for a Customer Video Testimonial

December 1, 2020 | Video Testimonials on Websites

There are three ways to ask for a video testimonial:

  1. directly, face-to-face
  2. virtually, by text/email
  3. virtually, by a website display widget 

Now, let’s add some context to these descriptions:

  1. When your customer is face-to-face, your team will have the opportunity to help the customer prepare for the video testimonial.  One or more of your team may even interview your customer in the testimonial video.
  2. When your customer receives the video testimonial request by email or text, they will use their mobile device to record the testimonial and you will need to include a written request and instructions in the email.
  3. When your customer clicks the website display widget their webcam will activate and you will need to prompt them with written instructions .

Which is the best way to ask questions for a video testimonial?

There are two alternative methods to ask for a video testimonial in 2021:

  1. When your customer is face-to-face in your place of business (Direct Request)
  2. When your customer receives the video testimonial request by email, text or website widget (Virtual Request)

There is not a lot of public data available comparing Direct Requests versus Virtual Requests for a video testimonial.  

But, one metric we can look at is the number of video testimonial apps available on the market and look at how these apps collect their data.  

Most of these apps use the customers’ email to contact the customer after the sale to ask for the video testimonial.  The app utilizes the video recording features of the customers’ own mobile devices to collect the video.  

Several of these video testimonial service firms use a website display widget that activates the users’ webcam to capture video.  Some video testimonial firms have added a ‘kiosk mode’ to their app that allows the app to collect the video testimonial while the customer is still at the place of business or at the point-of-sale or checkout counter.  

Here is a table that shows a representative sample of the video testimonial companies whose websites describe their data collection strategy in sufficient detail to be categorized.

Data Collection:  We accessed the websites below, watched their Explainer Videos or signed up for the Demo to understand their method of collecting video testimonials.

Grid of Video Testimonial service firms - Ask Strategy and Pricing (click to view)

RESULTS:  

  •  Three of twelve (25%) video testimonial service firms have a direct face-to-face option for collecting video testimonials.
  •  Ten of the twelve (83%) have a virtual option to collect video testimonials.  
  •  Nine of the twelve (75%) only have the virtual option.
  • One of the twelve (~9%) has both options.

While we do not have personal knowledge of any of these firms, outside of published data and statements on their websites, we suspect that a virtual ask strategy is a simpler process, operationally, for many small business owners.  

But, if you ask for a video testimonial virtually, is that actually better for your social media marketing?  

And, do the resulting video testimonials actually turn out better?  

Do customer video testimonials created using a Direct Ask strategy lead to more persuasive social proof than video testimonials created using a Virtual Ask strategy?

Let’s take a look at some of the evidence.

When Your Customer is Face-to-Face in Your Place of Business

The Proximity Rule is a simple rule first described in the 1963 book The Hidden Dimension by cultural anthropologist Dr. Edward T. Hall.  The Proximity Rule gives definitions of interpersonal space that Dr. Hall discovered people the world over see as important:

  1. Intimate space is within 18 inches of your body
  2. Personal space is 18 inches to 4 feet in radius from your body
  3. Social space is 4 feet to 12 feet in radius from your body
  4. Public space is greater than 12 feet from your body

Intimate space is relevant to social media photos, images and video.  

Quoting from Dr. Hall’s book: 

“Personal space is the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs.  Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space is encroached.  

Permitting a person to enter personal space and entering somebody else’s personal space are indicators of perception of those people’s relationship.  

An intimate zone is reserved for close friends, lovers, children and close family members.” 

We discuss Social Media and The Proximity Rule in great detail as the Rule applies to a social media marketing program.

The Proximity Rule and Social Media

The Proximity Rule is described within the context of social media in 2020 by David Meerman Scott in his book Fanocracy.   

The Proximity Rule says, simply:  We can build trust online with new customers when they see the image of two or three people together, within their Intimate Zones, in videos or photos.

A quote from Fanocracy:

Our unconscious brain can respond to what we see as if it were our own experience, even if it is on social media, film, a screen or a faraway stage through something called mirror neurons.  Mirror neurons are a group of cells in the pre-motor and inferior parietal cortex of the brain.  

These neurons are fascinating because they not only activate when we perform an action – biting into an apple, smiling, or getting near to somebody we enjoy being with – they also fire when we observe somebody else performing the same action.  

When those around us are happy and smiling, our unconscious brain tells us we are happy and we often smile, too.  

When we’re at a rock concert, our mirror neurons fire based on what the performer is doing onstage and what the other audience members are doing.” (p. 69) 

In other words, Dr. Hall’s and David Scott’s evidence suggests that in-person video testimonials, when two or more people are in the video, should do a better job at conveying trust to the online viewer than a single customer giving a video testimonial.  

However, this evidence only suggests – it does not prove the idea that one type of video is superior to another.

We would need data from Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) specialists such as the CRO experts at these worldwide firms.  These CRO specialists would use A-B split-test data to show that one type of video social proof is superior to the other. 

When Your Customer Receives the Video Testimonial Request by Email or Text

As noted above, 75% of the video testimonial service firms have created apps that only use the virtual ask strategy to collect video testimonials from customers, using their own mobile device cameras.  

Based on our interactions with customers in medical clinics, gyms, veterinarians and various retail locations, we have observed that a direct ask strategy requires team member time, training and management follow-up.  

Based on these observations, there appears to be a preference for the virtual ask strategy, at least initially, from the target market of these video app service firms.

Again, there does not appear to be any direct evidence online that this preference for the virtual ask strategy is based on a side-by-side A-B test of one type of video over another type of video.

How do I Ask for a Video Testimonial?

According to Fast Company.com, “Less than a third of business owners ask customers for a review, and that’s probably because it feels a little like fishing for compliments – awkward and uncomfortable.”

To overcome the weirdness and avoid awkwardness (what if they say NO?), here are three ways to ask for a testimonial when you are face-to-face with a client.

1) As You Ask for a Testimonial, Offer a Compliment

We love Chelsei Henderson’s 5 Non-Icky Ways to Ask for Testimonials from the FreshBooks blog– #5 is pure gold, “Your opinion means the world to me — would you mind sharing your thoughts about the work I did for you?  

Our observation is that this technique would work well for both a direct or a virtual ask strategy.

This request has to be authentic and it may work better for professionals whose services are more relational and personal – dental technicians, hairdressers, therapists and physicians – than for professions that are more transactional.

The customer can still say no – the choice is theirs, however the business has been transparent about the need for a testimonial PLUS you’ve been the first to offer appreciation to the customer.

2) Highlight the Giver’s Expertise in the Testimonial

Are you sharing the video testimonial on LinkedIn?

Highlight the fact that just being asked to give a testimonial implies specific content knowledge and expertise in the person being asked.

According to Jeremy Cohen, cofounder and general manager of the executive search firm The Talent Studios:

“The emphasis needs to be on the fact that you believe their opinion has gravity and you respect it to the point where you want it memorialized on the largest public forum of accessible career information on you,”

3) Offer Testimonial Prompts to your Customers

Monique Alvarez of Forbes lists 12 prompt questions she uses to solicit testimonials from her customers – here are our favorites to choose from:

  • What was your problem before you bought [our product/service]?
  • What results have you gotten from [our product/service]?
  • What kept you from buying [our product/service] sooner?
  • What exactly did you like most about [our product/service]?
  • Why would you recommend this to someone who might be on the fence?
  • What was your main concern that would have prevented you from buying this, and what put your fears to rest?
  • If you were to recommend [our product/service] to your best friend, what would you say?
  • What made you choose [our product/service] over anything else you could have done?
  • What are three benefits you’ve experienced as a result of buying [our product/service]?
  • What was life like before you started with [our product/service]?
  • What is life like now that you’ve experienced [our product/service]?
  • What surprised you the most or made you the happiest about buying [our product/service]?

Great customer service practices should always include these survey questions – perhaps as an exit interview.  The gold standard customer satisfaction survey model today is called the Net Promoter Score (NPS) – check out our blogpost on scoring the NPS here.

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