Nothing sells products and services as well as a recommendation from a previous happy customer. You only have to look at all the online tools used by retailers and traders to capture customer experiences – such as Trustpilot, Feefo, Bizrate and TrustedCompany to name but a few. And who would book a holiday these days without having a quick look at TripAdvisor? Potential customers gain a great deal of confidence in knowing others have bought from you first and had a fantastic experience.
However, all these solutions lack something – putting a ‘real’ face to the name. Commissioning a Customer Reference Video does this and a whole lot more.
Building trust with a Customer Reference Video
They say that the camera never lies – and this is true. Unless you’re watching an Oscar-winning performance from a seasoned actor then it is very hard to mislead an audience. People know how to read each other through body language (including facial expression, eye contact and gesturing) – all of which is lost within written online customer referral systems. With a Customer Reference Video you have all these tools available – enabling you to achieve a far higher level of trust from your audience in what is being said.
The most common format for a Customer Reference Video is what is called a ‘talking-head interview’. This consists of an interviewee (customer) and an off-screen interviewer. The line of action is between these two characters – and whilst the interviewee does not respond directly down the lens, the audience is still able to read their body language.
Finding suitable subjects for your Customer Reference Video
Any successful business shouldn’t have a problem in finding satisfied customers – but are they really going to be happy about saying how they feel on camera? The quick answer is… not all of them, but there will be some who would be. This could be that they just like the thought of appearing on TV, but there will also be some who stand to benefit from sharing their story. This is especially true if you trade B2B (business-to-business) as your interviewee will be gaining exposure for their own business within the interview. In fact, once produced you should be actively encouraging them to share the video.
Whilst every customer’s experience is important, there may also be the opportunity to record a Customer Reference Video with a figurehead or known personality within your sphere of interest. For instance, this could be someone known as the leading authority on the subject; or a widely celebrated artist; or an accomplished sportsman – or anyone who your audience would consider to bring additional value with their endorsement of your product or service.
Shooting and editing your Customer Reference Video
First of all it is important to know exactly what you want your customers to say and then develop a range of questions that will draw this from them in a sincere and enthusiastic way. Once you know these questions you should share them with your interviewee so they can plan their response. This doesn’t mean you can’t spring additional questions on them during the interview, but allowing them to think about their response will result in a more believable Customer Reference Video.
You should also get your interviewee to sign a release form. This is basically an agreement from them which will enable you to use the video, preferably in perpetuity, for a given purpose. These do not have to consist of lengthy legal jargon, but they do have to fairly describe what the agreement between you is. Without signed release forms, or at the very least getting them to say on-camera what they agree to, could result in you not being able to use their very valuable endorsement. (A good video production company will have a variety of suitable release form templates for you to adapt and use)
Creating the right atmosphere at the filming stage is also very important. A relaxed interviewee will give you a far more natural performance which will generate a much higher level of trust in the audience. Shooting these interviews professionally will mean the interviewee coming to terms with the glare of lights, cameras and microphones – but these are soon forgotten about once the interviewer engages with them and develops the rapport. You’ll also need to shoot some cutaway shots too – see below.
By the end of filming your interview you will probably have a lot more content than you’ll need – almost certainly far too much to be useful to release as a Customer Reference Video. At the editing stage you have the opportunity to pick out just the best bits and a skilful editor will be able to craft these into a seamless narrative. If you’ve prepared and phrased your questions correctly the story will be in there and the trick is to tell it as concisely as possible. This often means very tight cutting and pasting of passages within a reply and reordering – but never changing the meaning of the interviewee or quoting them out of context.
It can be very helpful to transcribe the whole interview and carry out what is referred to as a ‘Paper Edit’. This will allow you to set out the perfect reply in the shortest possible number of words, and then take this with you into the edit suite. This might result in many cuts in the interviewee’s response which looks very unnatural. The editor’s trick here is to cover these edits with cutaways (sometimes referred to as ‘B-Roll’ footage) of relevant images – leaving the audio from the interview in place. For instance, if the interviewee is talking about the product at that time you could show images of them using it, or unpacking it or simply just the product itself. If they are talking about their business – then maybe just a few shots of the building. This is why it is always better to shoot your interview first as you will then know what cutaway images will be needed to complete the edit.
The cost of producing a Customer Reference Video
Unlike other areas of video production, pricing a Customer Reference Video is relatively easy once we know locations, likely shooting durations and complexity of the edit. You could simply just refer to our Freelance Detail Sheet to work out what our costs would be. With good logistical planning and a concise set of questions you could easily shoot ten or more customer interviews in the same day. With a good paper edit to work to the editing time is greatly reduced – sometimes giving you as much as 1:2 shoot/edit ratio (1-day filming to every 2-days editing).
Hopefully now you’ll fully appreciate the value of creating a Customer Reference Video. You could of course create these in-house but, to achieve a more professional looking film that your audience will find more believable and sincere, you might find it more profitable to engage a professional video production company. If so, Video Artisan is just a telephone call away – 020 3602 3356.
Notes: If you like to see how a Customer Reference Video works, please click on the links below to view a few of the short films we’ve produced for British Telecom.