Now that all of you are armed with a tripod for taking photos and videos with your cell phones, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on how to catch great testimonial “soundbites” on camera. Even if we don’t end up using the video, if you can catch a patient saying great things, we can use the testimonials on the website, putting them side by side with a set of before and after photos. Here’s how to get the patients to say what we want them to say and to ensure that you aren’t the one doing all the talking.

Avoid Yes/No Questions

We want patients to say, “My experience was great!” We want to capture that moment on camera. But if we ask, “Did you have a great experience at our office?” It’s highly likely that the patient will just say, “Yes, it was.” We can’t really use “Yes it was” as a testimonial. And in order to use it in a video, we’d have to include your voice off camera asking the question, which is just awkward. Instead, rephrase questions like this to be more open-ended. For example, “Please tell me about your experience in our office.” Or, “What was the best part of being Dr. Soandso’s patient?”

Get the Patient to Tell Their Story

We want to present a story arc of the patient’s experience: a beginning, middle and end. An after photo is powerful, but we really only see the power of the transformation if we know what the patient looked like before the procedure. The same is true in testimonials. We want to find the pain points as a “Before” to the testimonial’s “After”. This means asking questions like, “What was life like for you before your new __________ (smile, ortho treatment, TMJ treatment, dentures)?” And then follow up their answer to probe deeper into how their answer affected the patient’s life. If the question was “What was life like before your TMJ treatment?” And the patient said that she had headaches every day, then follow up that answer with, “How did those daily headaches impact your life?” Or if it’s an ortho case and she said that her teeth were really crooked, then ask, “How did that make you feel when were were in social situations?”

The answers will give us testimonial gold!

The Middle of the Story

This part of the patient’s story isn’t always the most exciting, but it can still provide some great soundbites about the office atmosphere, the team, the technology and how it made the patient feel during the treatment. So ask questions like:

  • “What was the treatment process like for you?”
  • “Could you describe what it’s like when you walked into our office for your appointments?”
  • “How would you describe the team at our office?”
  • “How would you describe Dr. Soandso?”

The answers can help differentiate your office from others that prospective patients may be considering when they come across these testimonials.

The Happily Ever After Part of the Patient’s Story

This is the part that most offices focus on when they try to get testimonials and it is an important part. It’s just more effective when you cover the beginning and middle of the patient’s story first. When you do, you’ve also warmed up the patient to give you a better answer to these questions than if you were to launch right into them. Now ask high-impact, big picture questions like:

  • “How has your life changed since you got your new smile?”
  • “How has your smile affected the way that you interact with people?”
  • “How have your symptoms changed since your treatment?”

If you’re recording this testimonial on the day of delivery, you will have to gear your questions toward their feelings in the moment like:

  • “How did you feel when you first saw your new smile?”
  • “How do you think your new smile is going to impact your life?”
  • “What do you think sets our office apart from other dental offices?”

When you use this story-oriented approach to gathering testimonials, you’ll find that testimonials flow more freely and you’ll capture more impactful messages to share with prospective patients. Next month we will talk about how to bring all of this together with the actual video recording process to get the best results in terms of video quality.