«Return to Blog List Are Your Case Studies ‘Human’ Enough?


Every night, I watch the national evening news for a quick summary of what’s going on in the world.

Whether the story’s about war or the weather, the reporters almost always bring in the human element – and lead with that human connection to engage the audience.

How? By featuring people affected by the story’s topic.

The same goes for selling complex technology solutions or consulting services, or anything for that matter. People like to hear about other people, not just about inanimate products or intangible services.

When you read a customer case study or success story without much of a human element, it’s flat and truly less interesting.

Here are 4 ways to bring the human element into your customer stories:


OK, this seems obvious. But surprisingly, there are case studies out there without quotes!

Quotes are the sound bites, the actual voices of the characters in your story.

Ideally, you should feature customer quotes in several places throughout your story. If for whatever reason you cannot quote someone from the customer’s organization, then quote someone in your company or the reseller/partner.

People read quotes when they don’t read paraphrasing, so use the quotes to emphasize the most important points of your story.

Have a Hero

Most customer contacts want to be the hero of your story. They made the solid decision to bring in this winning product or service.

Give the audience a bit more insight into who this person is. Is she a seasoned industry veteran? Is she managing a large global team? What issues keep her up at night?

Spend a little time (not a lot) helping readers or viewers get to know your protagonist in the story.


Here’s where case studies differ from a brochure, datasheet or white paper.

Emotion is a natural part of a good story. There’s frustration before a customer implements your new solution. There’s relief once things are better. And there’s excitement over the impact of a product or service.

Show that range of emotions. Just be careful not to overdramatize too much. It’s a case study, not a soap opera.


Believable stories are not all rosy. On the path to something better, there are obstacles.

It’s sensitive to talk about weaknesses in your product or service. That’s understandable.

But don’t just talk about the customer’s “before” challenges in your story. Show the ups and downs as you go along.

You might mention how the customer and vendor worked through a data migration issue that arose, faced a tight turnaround time, or how employees were initially skeptical about the new solution.

Then when you follow with successful outcomes, they’re sweeter when the audience knows what was behind it all.

What else? How do you humanize your stories?

3 Responses to Are Your Case Studies ‘Human’ Enough?

  1. Good points, Casey.
    What else? Humor. Try to put some humor into the case study, because it makes business information more digestible. Moste of the story have a humoristic element, which suits.

  2. Casey Hibbard says:

    Hi Harry,

    That’s a really good point! Humor is very humanizing. But I think it’s hard for businesses and writers to know HOW to work humor into the story. Again, the best place is in the customer’s comments, right?

  3. Ian Shircore says:

    Hi, Casey. Nice stuff, and I agree with all the points you’ve raised. One thing, though. Don’t you find, as we do, that a lot of clients are actually scared of allowing the humanity (and the humor) to show through? I find the human face often has to be smuggled in, just in the careful choice of a slightly unexpected word or two. Make it too obvious and they start to worry about whether it’s “serious” enough. Funny that quite small companies often want to be seen as unremittingly serious, when people like Intel are relaxed enough to value humanity and humor in their marketing. Keep up the good work. Ian