What are customer testimonials really saying?

Every day we are surrounded by advertisements.  Billboards, buses, radio and of course the internet and television.  Even watching a video on youtube.com these days fires an advertisement at you.  How often have you seen those adverts that have a testimonial in them?

“I used ‘Product x” and within 2 weeks I was a millionaire with beautiful skin!”

We take them for granted, we may even occasionally pay attention, but what are they really saying.

We can listen to the words, but are they the real words of the customer, or are they scripts?  Are these really customers or are they actors?

We take a lot of things at face value, especially in advertising, and rarely pay attention to what is going on until we have made a decision that we are planning to buy.  But what if the advertisement is sending out the wrong message.

I have looked at a couple of ads this evening and had the briefest analysis of what is going on with the people providing the testimonial.  Some of them are really great ways of honing your skills at MFE detection.

Slips of disgust, anger, emblem slips, sadness.  All the signs are there in direct relation to the comments that are made.

I have posted one here for your view.

let me know what you think of the first couple and their statement.  Would you believe their testimony?  Does this give you a good impression of the company or a bad one.

I welcome your views, let me know what you see and think and I will post my views as a comment in a week.


6 comments on “What are customer testimonials really saying?

  1. Fantastic find! Terrible testimonials filled with contradictory nonverbals! Head shakes, shoulder shrugs, distress signals, false smiles…..

    • On just the quick first pass the glaringly obvious one is the contempt at the end of the statement by the first interviewee. Hypothesis could be that he is at that point talking about competitors to the company. He could logically also be flashing contempt to the person behind the camera. I am going to spend some time on the other parts of the clip later. Already just this first few seconds of clip shows how dangerous a customer testimonal can be.

  2. Great video and practise – thanks. I had a giggle at the end of it.

    First man in red top with glasses and beard. 00:15 Unilateral mouth movement showing contempt – hypotheses – he doesn’t believe what he just said, he’s not keen on a script he has been asked to read, he doesn’t care for the interviewer or line of questioning or he’s been forced to sit through this by his partner.

    Second man in yellow top. 00:23 Subtle head shakes when saying he had paid a great price for it along with a volume decrease as he finishes his sentence. Hypotheses – disagrees with his own comments, possibly nervous at being filmed however the glare on his glasses makes it difficult for me to see his eye movement re fear.

    Lady with long mousey hair – seems pretty confident at speaking. Her only hot spot for me was where her eyes narrowed when talking about price – 00:30. Haven’t quite decided what this eye narrowing means just yet – am thinking about that…

    Family man with wife and son. 00:47 talking about exceptional customer service and wanting to share it he curls his lips in while nodding. Both contradict each other in my view. Hypotheses – Would love to share exceptional customer service but didn’t get it on this occasion, nervous at being filmed, dislikes lying and is angry at himself for doing so on this occasion.

    Man in brown shirt. He does a lot of head shaking which seems could be baseline with him. The hotspot for me was 00:54 – he can’t say enough about Bililardx coupled with a hand shrug out of his performance box. Hypotheses – his words sound positive but he meant those words in a literal sense in that he really can’t say anything about Billiardx that is positive, dislikes Billiardx but is doing this testimonial for some other kind of gain, or is just nervous at being filmed.

    Man with goatee and billiard balls right behind him. He is my favourite. 1:03 his upper lip raises and a flash of a nose wrinkle followed by two seperate and subtle shoulder shurgs. Face indicates disgust – especially around price. Hypostheses – doesn’t believe what he just said about price, thinks the pricing is above what it should be. 1:44 he does a unilateral mouth movement when talking about the suppliers confidence in their own products. Hypotheses – has no confidence in product, no confidence in the supplier, doesn’t believe what he just said.

    1:53 back to our man with the yellow top on. He says he feels comfortable with his purchase and would do it again. Both have subtle head shakes attached. Giving a contradiction between thoughts and feelings.

    All in all if I were MD of that company I would chose different testimonials. I’d also want to find out how much each of them were paid and or discount were given and deduct it from the media managers salary! But then again, I am harsh!

  3. With regards to the lady’s eye at 00:30, I just came cross a text in the Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals: ‘The partial disclosure of the eyelids, as Duchenne insists, or the turning away of the eyes or of the whole body, are likewise highly expressive of disdain. These actions seem to declare that the despised person is not worth looking at, or is disagreeable to behold’

    I can’t say whether this is the case with the woman, I thought I mention it since it addresses one of the reasons for the eye narrowing.

    I know this is a Me theory, but I think she may be feeling suspicious, I narrow my eye sometimes when I am suspicious about either my thoughts, or towards the things in front of me.

    • I agree there is definitely something happening there, but we still have to hypothesise reasons for the eyes or body turn. Could there be an event off camera that she is reacting to? Is is a cultural display rule? Personally, I am inclined to agree with you that this is blocking.

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