«return to Tip of the Month ListingYour Checklist for More Fruitful Case Study Interviews

To get the most out of interviews, plan thoroughly

By Casey Hibbard

Often, you have to ask for what you want. It’s advice for life (as I nudge my shy 5-year-old to ask his teacher when he needs something) and advice for customer case study interviews.

To get the rich raw materials for compelling customer case studies, you have to approach interviews the way you would a bucket-list vacation — with careful planning.

As you embark on a year of creating more influential customer stories, here’s your checklist for preparing for and conducting world-class interviews:

Study the featured solutions – KNOW what you’re writing about, including the features, benefits and key marketing messages for the products and services you’re featuring.

Gather customer information from internal sources – Before you actually interview a happy customer, know as much as you can about the customer’s relationship with the solution provider, including how long they have been a customer and any highlights of their usage and results. Were they using a competitor’s product before? Are there any areas you should NOT ask about?

Create interview questions – Design your interview questions strategically, with the goal of getting emotions, quotes, anecdotes and results. Be specific in the way you ask questions. Instead of asking, “What results have you seen?” ask “How much time did that process take you before? And how about now?”

Prep interview subjects – I don’t usually send interview questions to subjects ahead of time, unless they ask. But I often mention – in early emails – the type of information we’re looking for. “We’ll discuss some of the goals and challenges of your organization, your experience with the solution, and some of the measurable results you have seen.”

Interview the best customer contact(s) – Who’s the best person to interview? Someone who can speak to the previous challenges the customer faced, why the organization (or person) chose the new solution and the results they’re seeing. If you need to speak to more than one person to capture all that, then do so.

Have a conversation – Sure, you have a list of questions to get through, but above all, a case study interview should be a conversation. Make the subject feel at ease with some intro questions about the weather and how long they’ve been with their organization and respond dynamically to their answers. Don’t be afraid to go off script and dig deeper when you want to know more.

Don’t miss a single step in the checklist and you’ll be on your way to more compelling stories – starting today!