When you want to strengthen your marketing materials, one of the most persuasive things you can do is to highlight the ways existing customers are using your services. Whether through reviews, testimonials or customer case studies, these customer stories are particularly well suited to B2B companies, or to those selling complex services.
Indeed, research from the Content Marketing Institute last year found that business marketers rated case studies as the second most effective tactic when it came to content marketing. According to the research, the practice came second only to in-person events.
But if you're using customer case studies, one of the challenges is how best to showcase the results your services delivered.
And, whether you're hiring a case study writer to interview your customers directly or planning to speak to them yourself, it's crucial to ask the right questions.
Your customers are busy people, and you may only have one chance to interview them – so make it count.
For starters, it's a good idea to avoid giving customers the option of a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. To elicit quotes that you can actually use in your customer case studies, try to encourage clients to speak freely (you'll be editing these quotes later, anyway).
Choose questions that ask them 'how?', 'why?', or 'what?'. Try to avoid those that invite a 'yes' or 'no' response such as 'have you... ?' or 'did you... ?'.
When you come to write your case study, your job will be much easier if you've already encouraged your customers to talk naturally about their experiences. They'll also be more likely to share insights or anecdotes that can add colour and interest to your story.
So, next time you're planning a call, try asking some of these questions:
- What business challenges did you face before using our products or services?
- How did these challenges affect your business?
- What was the particular problem that you needed to solve?
- What was most important to you when it came to finding a solution?
- How have our services helped your company?
- What results have you achieved by working with us/using our services? (Customers may not always be able to quantify these during a call, so be prepared to follow up for precise numbers, or ask them ahead of the call to think about any specific results they might be able to share)
- Why did you choose our services over those of our competitors?
- What one thing did we deliver that you may not have been able to find elsewhere?
- What would you have done if you hadn't used our products/services?
- Please provide a specific example of a time when our products/services helped your business.
Before your call, it's also a good idea to make sure you have all the necessary information from your sales team or account manager about the exact products and/or services your customer uses.
Not only will this save time on the call, but it will show customers that you respect their time. It will also allow you to focus the interview on the questions likely to produce the most valuable answers for your case study.
Have you ever struggled when interviewing a customer for a case study? Which questions have you found most helpful when interviewing customers?