How to Collect Testimonials

Last time I explored sources of testimonials and today I’ll look at the practicalities of one source: the interview.

Why Interviews?

There are many potential sources for testimonials but interviews are particularly helpful for two reasons:

  1. The interviewee can talk fully about their experience in their own words.
  2. It can take about 20 minutes for them to become confident enough to speak their mind in real depth. Most other testimonial sources, eg written statements, tend to harvest superficial thoughts. This is the nature of the media, rather than the intentions of the interviewee.

Who should you interview?

There are two possible answers to this question. Obviously one is people who have been or still are your clients. They will have appreciated some of your contributions and may be unhappy about others. Their experience can be invaluable to you as you design your service.

But there are also people who have not been your clients. Perhaps people you know who have sufficient experience to articulate relevant issues they have met.

How to interview

Here are a few things you need to agree beforehand.

  • Where to meet; either a face-to-face meeting or by telephone.
  • That the interview shall be recorded.
  • It shall take 20 – 30 minutes.
  • You will prepare a transcript and share it with the interviewee.
  • You will agree the material you may use and whether and how it shall be attributed.
  • Ask if you may take a photograph.

If you record the interview you don’t need to concentrate on writing things down. This means you are likely to capture a lot more. Don’t forget to test everything is working before you start.

Prepare your questions beforehand. Don’t have too many and allow people space to expand on their answers.

There are three possible applications for the material you collect.

    1. Use and attribute material, using the interviewee’s name and organisation (the precise nature of the attribution should be agreed) and it can include a photo. Video and audio are also possibilities.
    2. Non-attributed material may be where there are sensitivities. However, it is inevitable you will weave your feedback into your website. I’ll expand upon this next time.
    3. You will never use it in any form either because it is not suitable or the interviewee asks for it not to be used. The latter should be rare because it would only apply to something very specific that could be traced without attribution.
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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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How to Use Testimonials - July 29, 2014 Reply

[…] What can you do with material collected through interviews? […]

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[…] approach is to interview potential clients and find out what products or services they need. So, here are some possible goals you may set as a […]

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