A Time for Customer Collaboration


Commercials just don’t look or sound the same do they?

Depending on your mindset, brand messaging can seem out of place in the current world. The conversation is strained. You can only say, “We’re in this together” so many times.

Brands and companies are struggling to market themselves during the pandemic. It’s tough to strike the right tone amid the craziness that has engulfed the world.

Try to sell or talk about your product or service, and you come off looking like you’re an opportunistic jerk. Try to address what’s going on, and you run the risk of being tone-deaf or patronizing. Even reaching out to customers, or clients and trying to strike up a conversation can feel strange.

A friend recently emailed a customer to check in on them and see how everything was going. She got a one-word reply, “Remove.” Yikes. That’s tough.

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, and that’s hard when you see the images of nurses and healthcare workers helping those stricken with this disease. When you visit the grocery store and see people risking their lives to keep us all fed, you want to pitch in. Just seeing a truck driver on the road, brings an added dose of respect to the roles these people have always played.

The painful truth is, for many of us (myself included), the only thing we can do is nothing. Stay home and concentrate on what we can control.

Control What You Can Control

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Like the good book says, we must accept that we can’t change what’s going on right now. No matter when we want this to be over, most of us have very little control over it. We make plans, and God says, “That’s funny.”

But the serenity prayer allows us to change the things we CAN change. So, during this time, I’ve decided to make lists.

I create lists of projects that I’ve always wanted to get done, but I’ve never had time. I make lists of items that I can get done to prepare me for the future when I can market my company.

I also make lists of ways that I can reach out to people, customers, and colleagues right now. I believe there are many acceptable ways to reach out to people in this moment. This blog post is one of those acceptable ways. I hope.

Right now, there’s chances for you to collaborate with your colleagues, clients, and customers. It will involve you asking for a favor, but if you have a good relationship and are comfortable doing it, I feel like it’s okay.

Customer Testimonials are Customer Service

One of the things on your list may be reaching out to customers, colleagues, or clients that you’ve worked with before and asking for a testimonial, endorsement, or review. I strongly encourage you to do this.

Some of you might be thinking, “I can’t ask my customers to do me a favor right now.”

But, I think it’s a great time to reach out to people you’ve done work for, and ask for a reference. Unfortunately, most of us have been fooled into thinking that a customer testimonial is work, but it’s not. A customer testimonial is actually customer service. A customer testimonial is a dialogue between you and your customer. That conversation is a form of customer service. You are listening to them and valuing what they have to say.

There’s a couple of reasons why it’s a perfect time to ask, and there are a few simple ways that you and your customers can create a testimonial, all from the privacy of your own homes.

Why Now is a Good A Time to Ask

So, why is it a great time to ask for a testimonial?

First, most of your customers are at home like you are. You know where to find them. Second, a lot of them have more free time than they usually do, just like you do at the moment.

The third and most important reason it’s a great time to ask for a testimonial, everybody wants to support businesses during the lockdown. I know that I want to support the companies that I patronize. I want to help them through a challenging time.

I’m sure that if you have a good relationship with the customers that you work with, they are not going to mind if you reach out and ask for a testimonial.

Remember when I said that the most frustrating thing about this pandemic is the feeling of helplessness?

We all are searching for ways to support each other. If you reach out and say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for people to endorse my business, would you mind giving me a testimonial?’ I’m sure a lot of people would jump at that.

So, now that your customer said, Hell Yeah! What type of testimonial should I execute?

The Trickle-Down Approach

In creating testimonials, I prefer what I call “The Trickle-Down” approach. This approach allows you to execute a video testimonial and then create multiple assets off of that one thing.

Do video testimonials take the most time to produce? Yes, they do initially.

But, you’ll save so much time in the long run. If you record a person giving a testimonial straight to the camera, you can create multiple assets off of that one interview. You can edit all their best answers together to create a highlight reel of substantial endorsements. You can edit clips of their interview along with other customers to create a sizzle reel.

You can transcribe their testimonials. You can write their story into a case study. You can pull a still photography frame and place their answer in text on the image to create a social media post.

There are so many things to create off that one video interview. The marketing assets trickle down.

That’s great, Mike, but how do I get a VIDEO testimonial when I’m not face-to-face with my customer?

The Selfie Testimonial

The easiest way to get a video testimonial is to ask your customers to videotape themselves. Send them a list of questions in an email. Questions that you think would provoke useful feedback about your business.

HINT- These should not be yes or no questions but rather open-ended questions that will allow your customers to provide some color around how they feel about your business, product, or service

Then, have the person just film themselves on their phone. Instruct your customer to answer each question one-by-one, so that they create individual video files. Also, make sure they record themselves in the highest resolution possible. Then, have them send you the video files. If they’re able to record in high res, they may need to send the files via Dropbox or Google Drive.

Be sure to provide instructions on HOW they should tape themselves.

Give them pointers on camera positioning, lighting, what they should wear, etc. I have recommendations on the best ways to execute a selfie testimonial that I’ll include in later posts. The style or look of a testimonial is essentially a creative call you should think about and then provide direction on.

Don’t worry about performance. I’ve found people to be very comfortable in executing straight-to-camera selfie testimonials. Nowadays, people are comfortable talking to their phones.

Plus, every phone has an excellent camera. It blows my mind sometimes. In 2007, I had a job where I went around the country conducting straight-to-camera interviews of celebrities, musicians, and athletes. I used to rent a specific type of 4K video camera in each city. It usually cost me between $3,000- $7,000 a day.

Now, every one of us has a 4K video camera in our pockets. Heck, Samsung is coming out with an 8K camera! Amazing times we’re living in…for a whole bunch of reasons.

ZOOM Testimonials

Another easy way of recording a video testimonial when you’re not with a customer is to use Zoom.

Zoom is a stellar video conferencing platform. During this shutdown, a lot of people are discovering it and how effective it is. I have been using Zoom for a couple of years, and I’ve created customer video testimonials and video ads just using zoom.

A few tips If you’re going to use Zoom.

First, the video conferencing platform is straightforward and easy to use. It allows you to start and stop the video recording within the display screen and control panel. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this feature. It will save you a lot of time and money after you conduct the interview.

When you schedule a call with your customer, just ask them questions during the call, and before they begin to answer each question, press record and mute yourself.

The start/stop record feature will allow you to cut out the part where you ask the question in the video. So, you’ll just create a video file of the answer. When the Zoom call is over, the app will deliver you all the individual video files. You can even label the files with the subject in the title to make it easier to organize.

Lousy Internet Connection? Coach a Selfie Testimonial

If you are going to collect a video testimonial via Zoom, you need an excellent internet connection. If you don’t have a good internet connection, your video quality is going to be subpar.

But there’s a workaround. If you have a poor internet connection or your customer has a poor interconnect connection, direct them as they create a selfie testimonial. Ask them a question and then have them push record and answer the question directly to their phone.

It’s always better to be present as they answer the questions, as you can help them determine the best way to say something or direct them in the interview. If you don’t like something about their answer, you can have them try it again.

Try not to do more than 2-3 takes of any one answer. The more somebody answers a question, the staler it sounds. Instead, just ask the question again in a different way. Try to find another angle on the subject.

Transcribe All Video Files to Start the Trickle-Down

Once you have the video files, get them all transcribed. There’s a couple of ways to do this. You can write it out yourself, or use a transcription service. I use Rev.com. It’s a straightforward platform where you can upload your video files.

On Rev.com, you can get an automated transcription for $.25 a minute. Or have a human do it for $1.00 a minute. I’d say the automated transcription is about 60% accurate, and the human is 98% accurate. So depending on your usage and budget, you can choose either and create a transcription successfully.

After you have the transcriptions, create a paper edit of their best answers. A paper edit is essentially a script of all their best responses. Once you have a paper edit, you take the moments of the videos that you like the best and edit them together into one tight testimonial that’s hopefully between 1-2 minutes.

Reach Out and Collaborate

If you’ve been wanting to create customer testimonials and waiting to ask people you’ve worked with or worked for, I say just do it.

We are all in the same predicament. Reaching out and asking to help each other out can’t hurt. Nobody will hold it against you.

I think people want to help right now, and you’re allowing them to pitch in.