How To Write An Effective Case Study (AKA Customer Success Story)

How To Write An Effective Case Study (AKA Customer Success Story)

Case studies, aka customer success stories, can be amazingly effective tipping points when it comes to convincing an on-the-fence prospect. And from this point on I will not refer to a case study as such, as it sounds cold and clinical, but I will instead refer to it as a customer success story, as it is more indicative of what you’re trying to convey to potential customers.

With that, more often than not I see customer success stories written like they’re straight out of an advanced level statistics textbook. This is exactly the wrong approach to take when writing a compelling success story.

I’m gonna give you 3 simple techniques to make sure you write a success story that’s sure to push your prospect over that indecisive hump.

• Highlight Benefits NOT Features
• Tell A STORY
• Keep It Humble and Honest

Benefits Not Features
Think about it, you’re the expert. Yeah, you know that your AC3200 X-model is a super efficient ultra-quiet high-powered multi-angled double inducer that cuts ozone exhaust by 78%, reduces decibel output 37.5% below the industry standard of 20% recommended government guidelines, and that your patented industry leading inducers reduce wear by 280% increasing fan life by up to 5 years.

Your customers on the other hand just know that they don’t hear a thing when the AC kicks on, their electric bill has dropped by over 40%, and they haven’t gotten any unnecessary service calls in over 5 years.

So when you tell your success story, which do you think will resonate with your potential customers more? That’s right, the one that tells your potential customers that, hey guess what, there where people on the fence just like you and here’s what THEY had to say after they bought our product.

Under the category, ‘Benefits Not Features’, is the subcategory of ‘No Industry Speak’. This happens all the time. Don’t use industry terms, words, acronyms, abbreviations, etc. in any material for that matter, let alone a customer success story. It’s rare anyone knows your industry lingo like you do, so don’t bother. It only confuses and frustrates people who aren’t ‘in-the-know’ which can lead to the opposite reaction you’re looking for, which is hitting the ‘back’ button.

Remember, it’s always about the benefits when it’s decision time and then it’s the features that support their decision. And no big fancy industry speak!

Tell A Story
It may seem that a customer success story would naturally lend itself to a great story, and in fact it should seeing as how it’s called a customer success STORY. However, often times these success stories are missing a key component that makes a successful story, like the beginning or middle.

Everyone wants to tell the ending. After all, that’s the exciting part, right? It’s the climax. But how much better is the story’s ending if you can measure it against the beginning?

When you tell a customer success story you must start from the beginning. Share, in Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s words of course, how they came to you because of their outrageous monthly bill, their AC unit sounded like a Harley Davidson every time it kicked on, and how they spent $200-$300 every time a service rep came out.

Then, when you’re prospective customers read it, they think to themselves, “Hey, that sounds just like us.” Now your prospective customers go from, “Well we’re not sure…maybe, I don’t know” to “it’s perfect.”

Remember, it’s not a customer success story if there’s no beginning, middle and ending.

Be Humble, Be Truthful
Everybody knows the Avis car rental story. Their tagline in the mid ‘60s became, “Avis Is Only #2, We Try Harder.” With that change, they gained significant ground on Hertz and their motto became one of the greatest ad campaigns to date, and one of the most successful.

Why? Because people love underdogs, they love humility. People can relate to other people, or companies in this case, when they see that everyone has flaws or shortcomings. It makes us feel better about ourselves.

When you write a customer success story, don’t leave anything out. Include the fact that the Johnsons got their AC unit a day later than expected, but you took an extra 10% off the total price for the inconvenience. It shows that you aren’t perfect, and that things do happen that aren’t in your control sometimes, but you’re company is willing to make it right to ensure customer satisfaction. That speaks volumes.

The flip side is, don’t let the success stories be too rosy. Even if they turn out that way, tame them down a bit. If people read a success story that’s too perfect, they may not believe it even if it is true and then they may not trust the rest of the stories.

Remember to keep it honest and humble, and tame down the exceptional stories.

Customer success stories can be a very powerful way to help your potential customers make the choice to do business with you. They’re real honest experiences from other people who ultimately decided to buy from you and now they’re very happy they did.

Just remember to highlight how your product changed your customers’ lives – the benefits; no using industry terminology; tell a complete STORY; and by all means be humble and honest, that is to say be human. People like working with humans.

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Written by Michael Pilolla