Jeremy Tuber

Dental patient video testimonials—how to avoid patients rambling and saying cringe-worthy things on camera

How valuable would it be if your patient, Ms. Philips, shared with your dental team that she adores them and the care they provide? Take that thought a step further, how valuable would it be if Ms. Philips shared with everyone who visits your practice’s website that she adores your team and the care they provide?

That’s the power of patient video testimonials.

The purpose of chronicling (video or written) testimonials relates to a persuading / marketing / selling concept called “social proof,” coined in 1984 by author Robert Cialdini.

Social proof suggests that consumers (that includes potential dental patients) will often follow other consumers’ recommendations and choices. It’s a psychological and social phenomenon wherein consumers copy the actions of others to undertake behavior in a given situation.

Patient video testimonials provide social proof to online prospective patients that coming to your practice for their oral care is the “smart thing to do.”

Remember that consumers feel apprehension and risk when buying something new, which can include seeing a new dentist for treatment. Testimonials, particularly video testimonials, reduce that perceived risk in a potential patient’s mind—making them more likely to schedule an appointment.

Do dental patient testimonials work nowadays?

If you wonder, “In this day and age, with Yelp, Google+, and Angie’s List, do testimonials still matter?”

The answer is, “Yes,” but with a qualifier.

Written testimonials, particularly if they are from an ambiguous person, e.g., Billy K. or Sara G., are not influential and not believable. Dental patient video testimonials, however, can be compelling and effective at driving in new patients (if they are done right, and you choose the right patients to spotlight).

Do you have to hire a professional to get effective dental patient testimonials?

No. While video production pros will create a more polished, professional patient video testimonial, an effective testimonial could come from just an enthusiastic patient filming a selfie video in your reception area.

If you want a more polished/structured look to your testimonials, hire a video pro. If you’d prefer more of an unscripted and authentic look to your video patient testimonials, you can film them (or ask patients to film them) with a smart phone. Either option can be successful at compelling potential patients to feel, “Based on this testimonial, this seems like a reputable and professional dental practice. I am comfortable enough with them to schedule an appointment now.”

Are all patient video testimonials effective?

No. The truth is, a fair number of dental patient testimonials are uninspired, unfocused patient ramblings.

In many cases, a patient’s video testimonial has a positive tone toward the dental practice, and the patient genuinely meant well. However, the patient’s video testimonial is worthless or even damaging to the dentist and practice.

If you were to watch one of these video patient testimonials, it would be apparent that the patient appreciates the dentist and practice. However, during her testimonial, the patient went off on a tangent(s) and complimented the dentist on some unwanted and or unexpected attributes, e.g., the office always smells pleasant, she can call the dentist anytime and have emergency treatment done, noting that the dentist has an attractive dental team, and even that the treatment fees were “really cheap.” These examples are complements…in their own way, but they aren’t going to compel potential patients watching the testimonial to schedule an appointment with your office.

The takeaway here is that what your patients share in their video testimonial will make the difference between whether viewers schedule an appointment with your dental practice or if they look elsewhere.

Additionally, imagine how a patient would feel if they recorded a testimonial for your practice, and you didn’t use it? At best, they will feel that they wasted their time. At worst, they’ll be so embarrassed that they might consider leaving your practice.

In order to avoid uninspired, unfocused patient testimonials, choose the right patients to provide a testimonial, and discuss (agree upon) what the patient(s) will talk about during their testimonial.

Choosing the right patients to provide a video testimonial

Take a moment and consider four or five patients who you would feature in a video testimonial for your practice. Don’t move forward until you’ve completed this task.

How did you choose which patients to ask for a video testimonial?

Perhaps you chose patients based on how long the patient has been with your practice; others because they are satisfied with their treatment results; and others you might have chosen based on how outgoing and nice they are.

Those criteria are all worthy of consideration, but before you have your front office team reach out and ask patients to provide a testimonial, make sure you select patients who meet all or at least most of the following criteria.

  • They represent the type of patients you have or want to attract.
  • They are open to—even excited about—helping you and being on camera. Avoid coaxing patients who show apprehension.
  • They aren’t likely to leave the practice anytime soon (of course no one knows this for certain).
  • They are willing to share with you ahead of time what they are going to talk about on camera. More on this in the next section…

Ask your dental patients what they will say on camera.

Asking a patient for a video testimonial and then asking her/him to discuss what they’ll talk about might be painfully awkward, but it will ensure your video testimonials hit all the right points/benefits of your practice. Addressing this with a patient is like having your third molars extracted: it might be uncomfortable, but it’s for the best.

The truth is, what patients say during their video testimonial about a dental practice often catches dentists off guard. For example, a well-meaning patient might blurt out,

When our family was short on money, Dr. Williams offered to provide free treatment until we got back on our feet.” Sure, this is a nice sentiment, but the dentist does not want this to be shared in an online testimonial that will go on her/his website.

Not knowing what a patient will say on camera doesn’t mean the patient will criticize the dentist / practice during the testimonial. However, as in the example above, the reason(s) the patient shares about why she/he loves the dental practice may be quite different than what the dentist expected (or was hoping) to hear.

This is common. After all, when a dentist just asks the patient to talk on camera about the dental practice without any guidance, it’s no wonder why so many video testimonials go off track.

Without having at least chatted about what they should highlight in their testimonial, the patient has no guidelines or parameters. They have no road map to follow.

As a result, most patients talk in a stream of consciousness whereby whatever pops into their mind, that’s what they’ll talk about. Their testimonials sound more like monologue ramble rather than an engaging testimonial.

Think of a patient’s testimonial like a train: if you lay tracks down before the train starts moving, you’ll know where it’ll go. If you don’t lay tracks down, who knows where it will end up going? Discuss (or have your video professional) discuss with the patient what they should talk about before the recording starts. Most of us are not effective at speaking off the cuff, so discussing what could/should be talked about ahead of time will help your patient’s focus (and get you a more compelling patient testimonial).

Suggest what your patients should share about your practice on camera

The following example is how you can tactfully direct a patient on what to say during their testimonial—without feeling awkward or pushy.

Dentist or dental team member: Susan, we’re collecting 30-60 videos from patients sharing why they like coming into the office. Would that be something you’d be open to helping us out with—sharing your experience about the office?

Susan: Sure. How is the video filmed?

Dentist or dental team member: We have a videographer coming on Saturday. If you’d be open to drop by then, that would be great. If that won’t be possible, you’re welcome to record the video on your smart phone.

Susan: I’ll record myself on my iPhone.

Dentist or dental team member: No problem. We’re finding that patients who use a tripod or have someone else hold the phone 3-5 ft. away gives the best result. During their testimonial, most patients talk about the family atmosphere and never feeling rushed here. Would you be open to focusing on one of those topics?

Parting wisdom on how to film dental patient video testimonials

You can never tell which patient is going to be a superstar in front of the camera, but there are clues. Brainstorm with your dental team, perhaps over a working lunch, about which patients the entire team feels might be a good fit.

Once you’ve narrowed your list, determine whether you’ll ask patients to film their own testimonial, if one of your dental team members will film the patient testimonials, or if you’ll hire a video production company.

It’s easy to rush through these patient testimonials without a lot of planning—sort of winging it, and taking a “We’ll get whatever we get” approach. Do yourself a favor and do a little planning.

Testimonials can drive in new patients to your practice. They also have an internet shelf life of a few years, so take the same approach to them as you do when prepping a tooth for treatment: invest the time and do it right.

PS—If you have questions about recording dental patient video testimonials that go beyond the scope of this article, feel free to drop me a line (even if you’ve made other arrangements to have the testimonials filmed). Dentists have been good to me throughout my professional career, so I am happy to give back in providing advice (even if they aren’t going to hire me to film for them)!

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