«Return to Blog List Lessons from a Bad Case Study – Making the Customer Look Bad

Last week, we talked about how too much narrative derails a case study.

That same bad case study also commits another serious offense – making the customer look bad.

Sure, as part of a customer story, you talk about pains and problems before the solution was brought in. The reader needs to know what motivated the customer to make a change.

But just as you need balance in the amount of detail you provide, you have to balance negative details. Part of the “sell” of getting customers to be featured is positive PR. They’re not in this to air all their dirty laundry for all to see.

In this case, the customer faced high turnover in a position that requires a lot of training. Each time an employee left the position, they spent a lot of time and money ramping up a new person.

The case study goes on and on about how people were leaving left and right. Not good.

For the purpose of this case study, however, it isn’t necessary to talk about high turnover. Proper setup for the story requires that we discuss the high costs of “finding and training” the right people for the job.

See the difference? We’re not calling out the customer’s turnover problem. We’re talking about the impact of that – the costs of finding and training. That’s what the customer needs to – and does – solve with the vendor’s solution.

It’s about reframing and softening the “pain” or problem. The case still shows there’s a problem but the customer doesn’t appear like a bad employer.

Writing the story in this way also makes the review and approval process much easier with the featured customer.

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