Your customer said “yes” to being part of a case study, so now it’s time for the interview. But how do you make the most of that interview so you get the best possible customer success story? It all comes down to following these customer case study interview tips based on my years of interviewing experience.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve conducted hundreds of case study interviews and learned a few tricks to help make your interviews go smoothly, and more importantly, ensure you get the best possible outcome from speaking with your customers. (After all, you want a case study that supports your sales and marketing and doesn’t fall flat!)
Interview Tip #1: Set Expectations Upfront to Put the Customer at Ease
When a customer agrees to an interview for a case study, it’s usually because they’re a superfan of your product or service. That doesn’t mean they’re completely comfortable with the interview process or how you’ll be using the information you’re gathering.
The first few minutes of the interview should be used to put the customer at ease and set expectations for what’s going to happen during the interview and afterward.
Here are some specific things to cover:
- How long the interview is scheduled for and that they have enough time available.
- What they can expect during the interview. Let them know there are no wrong answers and that it’s a conversation with you.
- What you’ll be doing with the information once the interview is done and what the next step will be.
Interview Tip #2: Ask Leading Questions
Prior to the interview, you’ll want to spend some time crafting your case study questions and preparing an interview guide to help keep you on track. But what happens when you’re in the interview asking all the right questions and not getting the answers you want?
When the customer is giving answers that lack detail or don’t provide the information you need to create a compelling case study, it can be frustrating. You may even be tempted to decide that this customer isn’t a good fit or that their story isn’t worth pursuing.
After doing hundreds of case study interviews, I can tell you that this is rarely the case. (I can count the true number of “lemon” interviews on one hand.) Sometimes, your customer is going to be off their game or not be clear on what you’re asking. It’s up to you as the interviewer to ensure that you’re going the extra mile to get the information you need from them.
The most powerful thing you can do is to ask leading questions. Instead of saying something like, “Tell me about the results you got from our product,” ask a question that gets to the heart of the results you want to showcase such as “I know you’ve been able to save money with our product and increase your revenue. Can you share the details of how you did that?”
At points during the interview, you may need to rephrase your question or pose it in a different way to help the customer open up and share the information that you really need.
Interview Tip #3: Lose the Script to Pursue the Story
Every great interviewer knows that while being prepared is key, they also know that sometimes you’re going to need to let go of the story you thought you were going after in pursuit of something else.
Oftentimes in an interview, you’ll go into it with a specific idea, and over the course of your conversation, the customer will say something that’s absolute gold in passing. When this happens, be okay with going off script and following a new line of questioning.
Many times, those moments when you decide to see if there’s another angle to take in the interview, an even better customer success story is found. You just need to be willing and able to ask new questions on the fly to see if there’s more to it.
Getting started with customer success stories can be easier than you think. Work with a pro team that specializes in creating compelling case studies for B2B companies. We take care of every step of the process so you have high-quality customer success stories that generate leads and support your overall sales and marketing efforts.
Latest posts by Maggie Patterson (see all)
- How to Write a Great Case Study - June 12, 2018
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- 3 Powerful Customer Case Study Interview Tips - May 29, 2018