Capturing Genuine Emotion and Authentic Experience in Video Interviews

If you’ve been in content marketing for a while, or just since yesterday, I’m sure this is no news to you: customer testimonial videos are one of the most effective pieces of content out there.

They allow prospects to see beyond your datasheets into the world of your existing clients. All you have to do is give your most faithful advocates a voice and let the magic happen. By seeing other people succeed with your product or service, your prospects will realize the great value your company is carrying and decide to work with you. Sounds like easy magic, doesn’t it? But let’s dissect the interview process for a minute and make sure when the rubber meets the road, during the actual interview, you capture the enthusiasm that makes magic come true.

Let’s start with the (video testimonials interview) basics

Video testimonial interviews are experience oriented, open discussions with customers, recorded on camera and put together into a compelling, attention-grabbing story that flows naturally. They can be conducted by your staff, a professional marketing team within your company or external, and sometimes even by someone in the customer organization.

During a video testimonial interview, your advocates talk about how your company, service or product has helped them resolve a specific problem; how your solution helped them solve critical challenges; or how they managed to make a better impact in the lives of their customers, partners, employees, suppliers, community, or anyone else with your service.

A genuine user and fan, with an authentic and valuable storyline, can connect with your audience on a deep emotional level by offering a sneak peek into their experience with your product, without the implied agenda an ad would have.

Choosing the right customer for the interview

Deciding who to feature on your customer testimonial video depends on the goal of the interview and what you want to accomplish. To bring value to your target audience, it’s important to get as much information about your customers before reaching out to them. A good place to start the process is auditing internal data such as what products or services your clients purchased, how long they’ve been your customer, their current role within the company, number of interactions they’ve had with your team and feedback they’ve provided in the past, and net promoter score if you .

While most of your customers will have only positive things to say about your product or service, you want your biggest fans to take the center stage and speak on your behalf. You should choose customers who are passionate and descriptive, those whose professional lives have changed because of your product or service.

Once you’ve shortlisted your customers, you want to send them an engaging invite that nicely asks them to take part of your initiative, explains your goals, estimated time investment on their behalf as well as the logistics of the interview.

Always stay alert for a nice set!

There are various options for the “party venue”. You can invite your clients to your office or choose a different location. For your customers’ convenience, you can conduct the interview at their office – being in a familiar setting will make your clients feel more relaxed. You can even conduct the interview via conference, or the customer can produce the testimonial internally with the help of colleagues.

Capturing a compelling testimonial interview on video is about extracting authentic and powerful emotions. The real value from your customers’ unique experiences with your products and services will be a useful source to your potential customers. Try to choose a comfortable yet private space and walk your customers through the interview process before turning on the cameras. Your goal is to make them feel bold and confident so they can provide you with a powerful, engaging and insightful story.

Lights, camera, action!

The key to a successful video testimonial interview is to identify and bring to the surface the minor details of your clients’ answers that your audience can relate to. The focus should be on how the customer’s life has changed. This allows you to tell a story of transformation that inspires and motivates readers to take a certain action. The aim is to shift your customers’ attention from data and facts to how each step of their journey made them feel.  

While the questions and the overall flow of the conversation will largely depend on the type of products and services your company offers, becoming proficient at conducting customer interviews is a skill that takes time and practice to master. There are some “proven” interview strategies to maximize the emotional value of the story regardless of what industry or niche you are in. Here are some useful insights to consider when interviewing customers for video testimonials:

  • Successful video testimonial interviews depend on the right questions. In order to create a believable and memorable video testimonial, the most important questions to address are not about the product, but about the value that the product delivers.
  • When your customers agree to provide a video testimonial, don’t ask them to praise your products or services, that would sound unnatural. What matters to viewers are the benefits the products provide and the problems it helps solve.
  • Prepare an outline of interview questions in advance – the key points that you want to emphasize. This will help create a complete story with the beginning, middle and end. As you write and organize your question list, consider the essential elements of a story: characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution
  • Stick to open-ended questions that prompt in-depth responses rather than asking questions that could be answered with a simple yes or no.
  • Let the conversation flow naturally, establish trust. That’s important because customers need to feel free, relaxed and comfortable before the conversation. You don’t want to ask them too many questions at once or sound like a robot, automatically checking them off your list and moving forward without taking the time to actual listen to your customers’ responses. It would be great to begin with an “icebreaker” – an unrelated chat about their families, pets, or anything that takes their mind off cameras, lights and microphones. That will help to get your customers in a natural storytelling mode.
  • Be an active, supportive listener instead of trying to confirm, question or manipulate their responses. Your goal is to make the conversation flow and keep your customers’ mind off the recording. Try adopting a relaxed tone and pose that they will unconsciously mirror.
  • Put on your investigator’s hat and get your customers to speak about the weaknesses of your products and services. If they don’t bring them up, you could. By showcasing their authentic experience, including challenges, your testimonial will become more trustworthy. Remember, your goal is to build trust in your company and product, so painting a perfect picture instead of an authentic one might not be the best strategy.
  • Your audience is your biggest critic, and when it comes to video testimonials, they can sense if anything is “enriched”. Stay true to the experience and everything will go great!

A not so exhaustive list of questions:

It might be a good idea to send these to your advocates ahead of time. Authentic storytelling can be achieved even better if they can think about the experience and recall the best parts. Here are a few questions you can use to bring the story to camera.

  • Who are the people whose lives your company touches and in which ways?
  • Describe the impact your products and service have on those people
  • What was your biggest problem before purchasing our product or service?
  • How did that problem/situation make you feel?
  • Did the situation also impact colleagues, customers, community? How?
  • What were your non-negotiable requirements you evaluated during solution research?
  • What made you choose our company?
  • What was it like to work with our team after the purchase?
  • What was your biggest problem during product / service delivery?
  • Can you think of an example when the company went “the extra mile” to assist you?
  • How did your use of our product and service solve your biggest problem?
  • What benefits have you noticed? How did we and our service help you reach your goals?
  • What metrics did you use to track the change? What can you publicly share?
  • How is our company aligned with your mission / vision / values?

The last question is especially important as it puts customers in the driver’s seat and gives them the freedom to add a personal touch. No matter how well you prepare your interview questions, your customers will always surprise you with a unique view and input on your product or service. Add your own questions to better touch the heart of the story!

It's a wrap. End of filming.

Don’t forget to let your clients know that you appreciate their time and contribution. Make sure to give them all the details about the editing process, the time frame, as well as when and where they might expect to see the final version of the video. Send them a review link and allow them to suggest edits, we all want to look our best in the spotlight!