A compelling case study or customer story is more than a collection of facts on how your company helped a client. To truly make an impact, a case study should engage readers through storytelling. That includes a good setup, a tangible challenge and a happy ending–all backed by sparkling quotes from your client.
But how can you get those kinds of quotes, especially if the client isn’t a big talker? Here are my best tips for conducting productive interviews.
Break the Ice
First, your interviewee needs to feel comfortable. Start by thanking the person for their time, reviewing what the interview will cover and how it will be used. You want to strike a tone that’s professional and easygoing. Some people may not be used to being interviewed, so try to gauge their level of comfort and accommodate them accordingly.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Instead of asking yes or no questions, frame your questions to elicit more detailed responses. You might ask things like:
- Tell me about how you handled this before implementing our solution.
- What were the top three factors you considered when choosing a vendor?
- How does this solution help you achieve your goals?
Push for Quantifiable Results
The backbone of the case study is the results your client achieved through working with you. These can sometimes be hard to draw out, so don’t hesitate to send questions ahead of time if there are specific metrics you’d like to capture. If they can’t provide these, qualitative responses will work, but measurable results are always best.
Areas to focus on include financial impact, such as revenue generation, ROI and payback period, as well as time savings and productivity measures. Depending on the product or service highlighted in the case study, you may also want to focus on regulatory compliance or safety aspects.
One way to get measurable results is to get customers to compare the situation before and after partnering with your company. How much time were they spending on the task before implementing your solution? How much time are they spending on it now? This technique is even more powerful if you established a baseline for key metrics at the start of your relationship.
When I first started conducting interviews, I never recorded them. I figured I was a fast typist, and that having interviews transcribed would only slow the process down. Wrong!
Recording interviews has made the process much more efficient. Where I once was focused on typing, I can now reflect and respond to the interviewee, asking insightful follow-up questions that produce a more well-rounded story. It’s a real conversation.
Be sure to ask if the interviewee is comfortable with being recorded. I’m always up front about the reason why, usually asking, “Do you mind if I record the interview? I can actually have a conversation with you if I don’t have to worry about typing.”
Go With the Flow
Finally, I want to emphasize the importance of flexibility in interviewing. As I mentioned before, clients have to feel comfortable, and that requires flexibility from the interviewer.
You may encounter an interviewee who has lots to say, forcing you to pare down your questions in order to meet time constraints, or you may get someone who’s extremely tight-lipped. The trick is to be able to think on your feet and accommodate the contact’s style, reacting and responding as you would if you were having a normal conversation.
Need advice on writing your next case study? Email me at racheltracy [at] oncallcopywriter.com