«return to Tip of the Month ListingCase Study Writing Tip #4: Don’t “Wing” Customer Interviews

[From the no-cost report, The 10 Biggest Mistakes Case Study Writers Make]

Seasoned writers, especially former journalists, are accustomed to questioning on the fly. Stories are breaking and deadlines are looming, so there’s little time to get really formal about your interview questions.

But with customer success stories and case studies, you need to be more formalized with interview questions.

Here’s why. For about 10 percent of the customer stories I write and manage, customers ask to see the interview questions before the interview. If they do, by all means, send them the questions. There’s nothing better than a prepared customer, especially if you’re trying to get measurable results.

There may also be times when someone besides the usual writer ends up interviewing the customer for various reasons. Maybe the writer has another call or meeting at exactly the same time that another customer is available.

When any of these situations arise, it’s nice to have interview questions written out and saved in a file. Create them for all the products and services you might interview on. You can always customize that basic set of questions for each call.

Then you can simply email them off to customers or other contacts. Other internal contacts may also have input to help enhance the questions.

Sitting down and writing out your questions also ensures that you are (a) thorough, (b) consistent on each call, (c) and touch on the key points that are important to all stakeholders.

If you’re a freelancer, you’ll also appreciate having that set of questions saved. When working with multiple clients, you may be bouncing back and forth between different interviews, across totally different products and services, in a single day. You’ll be glad that your questions are ready to go, allowing you to minimize prep time between projects.