Why customer stories sell – and how you (yes, you!) can write them

This is a guide to getting smart with customer case studies. Stories captivate, intrigue and teach. That’s why story-telling is your secret weapon for elevating your content creation. Case studies, or customer stories, play a powerful role in building trust and nudging would-be customers ever-closer to that crucial ‘Yes’ decision. And in fact, it can be easy to use story-telling to transform those case studies from meh to magical. This is how:

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The structure

As you’re writing a customer success story, be sure to make to finish with a flourish. Use this simple structure (aim for about 600-800 words) and you’ll do just that:  

  • Introduce the hero – your client.  
  • Present the problem – what did your client need to overcome?  
  • Tell the sob story – what were the effects of this problem? How did your client feel? What would have happened if they didn’t find you?  
  • Let your hero be a hero – show how your client struggled to solve their problem, and what they did to eventually find you.
  • Celebrate the success – dig deep into all the ways your client’s life is infinitely better now they do business with you.

Ask the right questions, the right way

This is the bit most people get wrong. They forget they’re writing stories. And they slip into report-mode. A strangely formal interview usually gets held with an unengaged client – or worse, a list of colourless questions gets emailed over. Only for some equally lacklustre answers to limp back in return.  

But you’re not writing a report. Or an executive summary. You’re writing a story. A story about a real person who’s made the obviously brilliant decision to choose your business. But to tell that story, you need the right material. And how do you get that?  

Skip the interview

A good way to start is by choosing your words carefully. Tell someone you’d like to interview them and chances are they’ll go all stiff and feel more than a bit intimidated. The result? You’ll end up with the answers they think they should give, rather than authentic, interesting responses.  

But say to someone you’re genuinely interested in their story, and you’re convinced your customers will be too – and you’re on to something completely different. Try to make it an informal chat. In person if you can, by phone if you can’t. But definitely not by email.  

Make your client the hero of their story

When you come to write your success story, the richest parts of your tale won’t be the direct answers your client gives to your questions (we’re on to those next). They’ll come from the spontaneous conversations that happen around these questions. Think of your questions as the warm-up, and listen carefully to what’s said elsewhere in the conversation. The purpose of your story will drive what questions you ask, but consider including these (adapted to suit your business of course):    

  • What was the problem you were looking to solve?  
  • How long had you been searching for a solution/the right service?  
  • Why had no-one else been up to the job?  
  • How did you come across us?  
  • What impressed you about us most?  
  • What convinced you to buy from / book / engage / choose us?  
  • What would you say about us to your peers / family & friends?  

Is your story B2B (Business to Business)?

You’ll want to include basic information about the client’s business, their size, their products and services, and even their turnover. Especially if your product or service has contributed in any way to the growth, transformation or positive shift in their business.  

Or maybe it’s B2C (Business to Consumer)?

You might want to capture the customer’s personality and lifestyle, providing it’s relevant to your story. For example, a wedding car service might give a glimpse of the bride and groom’s whirlwind romance, and how the bride’s great uncle Reg once had the same vintage cherry red MG that you drove her to the church in. Details paint mental pictures, and these pictures get remembered.  

And there you have it. No more boring case studies. Just success stories you’ll love writing as much as your customers will enjoy reading. Ready to post on your website and link to from your socials. Why not try writing one today? We’re sure it’ll be a best-seller.