A well-written case study isn’t just great for your search engine optimisation (SEO) but can play a key part in your sales enablement process supporting your product marketing initiatives.
Often we write case studies to show what we have achieved as businesses and what outcomes were learned. They sit proudly on our websites but they don’t often have a lot of traffic as web pages, so why should you continue to write them?
Well writing them for the website is one thing but having them produced as pdfs for your sales team to use in the sales process is far more useful. They help with your prospects decision-making process and show how you can solve pain points with your product or service. They provide social proof and how your company solves business problems.
But do you feel you get the most out of your client to write effective case studies?
If not, read on for the specific case study interview questions you should ask your clients to get the best information to write good case studies.
Questions to ask to write a customer case study
Securing case studies can be hard work so when you do get that golden opportunity, you want to make the most of it. Here are 80 questions to pick and choose from to make sure no stone goes unturned. The questions that follow are not exhaustive and you should always think of more questions to build the right picture.
How to build an interview rapport
To get the best of your interviewee, you will need to build rapport. When your subject is feeling open and relaxed the content they share will be rich and honest. Try opening with any of these questions:
- How’s your day going?
- How long have you been at [insert company name]?
- Have you always worked in the same sort of industry?
- Are you looking forward to [insert event/holiday/etc.]?
- Is there anything you’d like to know from me before we get going?
- Just to check, are you happy for me to record this conversation?
These questions aren’t prescriptive so treat them as a guide rather than a strict list and always remember to ask open-ended questions.
How to understand the interviewee and their circumstances
Great case studies set the scene and are packed with context. To achieve both, you need to really relate to the customer in question. It’s your job to understand how the interviewee perceives the work you delivered and how you solved a problem.
Questions you can consider asking can be any of the following:
- What is your role within the company? And can you talk me through some of your responsibilities?
- How long has your business been around?
- Can you give us some history into your company and what consumer problems it’s trying to solve?
- What are your company’s values?
- Who else in your company uses our product?
- What’s your target market?
- How does your business help its customers?
- What are your business goals?
- What are some of your industry’s unique issues?
- What solution(s) were you using that our solution replaced?
- What are your primary KPIs and how do they tie in with the business’ goals?
- Can you describe a typical day or week in your role?
It’s these types of questions that will unearth details of the company and how it positions itself as well as how the interviewee sits within the organisation. Next, you want to establish the status quo before your product was introduced.
Investigate how life was before you
To truly show how much your product’s benefitted others, you need to paint a picture of what their life looked like before you came along. This means establishing what was happening within the business at the time and how that led to a new buying decision.
Try asking these questions to help establish the facts:
- Before using our product, how were you managing the [insert solution] process?
- How much time, resources and money do you think that was costing you?
- Can you ever imagine going back to that kind of set-up now? If not, why not?
- What was the tipping point to buying our product? Was there anything in particular that made you realise you just had to have it?
- What were the top three pain points you faced before us?
- Had you tried other products similar to ours previously? If so, how would you rate them?
- What was the reason you didn’t buy our product sooner?
- How did your previous solution impact the business? And specifically, which departments/roles were affected?
Of course, you may have more questions at hand, or have them written down in a different phrasing, but use these questions to build off of, rather than a finite list to use.
Dive into their decision-making process
Most customers will go through a similar sort of journey when looking into your product. So, help prospects relate to now happy customers by walking others through their steps. The following questions are designed to help other potential customers understand how your current clients benefit from your product or service.
- How did you first find out about our product?
- When looking into our product, what were the top one to three things that caught your eye?
- What was the moment you thought “yes, I need to buy this product”?
- If not you, who was in charge of the final sign-off for the purchase? Were they hard to convince?
- What made you choose us over others?
- What was your main buying criteria?
- Would you say our solution aligned with your company’s goals?
- Were there any deal breakers for the acceptance or rejection of purchasing our product?
- From start to finish, how did you find our purchase process?
- Who else was involved in the purchase process?
- Outside our or similar products, what other solutions did you explore? And what was the reason you didn’t opt for them?
- After first hearing about our product, how long did it take you to purchase it? Were there any specific stages you went through to get from A to B?
- What was the onboarding process like for your team?
The answers to these questions will give the strongest indication of how you support the sales process and what messaging to use in the storytelling process.
Bring them to the here and now
Now you’ve got the background info, you can start asking questions that uncover how much you’ve transformed the way they work. Discovering how they use your product and or service adds weight to the sales process and helps with your social reinforcement.
- What are the main use cases you rely on our product for?
- How has our product helped improve your process?
- How long did it take to get settled in with our product?
- Do you have any statistics you can share in terms of how our product has helped support your KPIs?
- Has our product lived up to everything you expected?
- Is there anything you use our product for that you hadn’t initially planned on?
- How do other people within your organisation describe our product?
- How has our product supported your business’ core objectives?
- Are there any metrics you can share in terms of how our product(s) helped you be more efficient?
- What have you been able to do with the time, money and/or resource you’ve saved?
- What would your advice be to anyone who’s looking into buying our product right now?
- How do you measure what success looks like with our product?
- Would you recommend our product to others?
- Which part(s) of our product do you find most valuable?
- If you had to sum up the benefits of our product in one sentence, what would it be?
- How long did it take you to see the benefits of our product for yourself?
- What have you been most impressed with?
- What are your future plans for our product?
- Has our product unlocked any new opportunities for you? If so, what?
- How would you rate our customer service?
- How would you rate the user experience of our product?
- How would you describe your communication with us?
- What are your thoughts on our product’s self-service opportunities?
- How would you describe the look and feel of our product?
- How does our technology compare to that of other products you subscribe to?
- Did you have to migrate from another solution to ours? If so, how did you do that? And how did you find the process?
- Which, if any, other apps do you integrate our product with? And how have you found that?
- Has our product achieved the objectives set out for it?
The answers to these questions will give you the opportunity to gain insight into how your product is adopted, integrated and planned for. You can learn more about the size of the role that the product or service plays in the customers’ tech stack and daily use.
Understand the big picture
Every business’ end goal is to bring more revenue in and ensure their customers are happy, so uncover how your happy customer is ensuring their happy customers. This gives you a direct insight into the benefits to the customer’s customer and why your product is the ideal fit.
- How has implementing our product benefitted your customers?
- Have any of your customers commented on the change?
- Were any of your customers complaining about your previous set-up before you took out our product? If so, what were they saying?
Capitalise on the opportunity
These questions won’t be used in your case study, of course, but while you’ve got your customer on the phone take the chance to pick their brains on how you could be even better. A few questions that you could ask are:
- What areas of our product, if any, do you struggle with most?
- Is there anything you think our product should have or do that it doesn’t already?
- How do you think our sales process could be better?
- Was enough content available to you when you were researching our product? Is there anything you wished you could have had but didn’t?
- Which area(s) of our product do you see the least value in?
- How could our solution be easier to use?
And finally, give your case study a platform to get anything off their chest that your previous questions might not have elicited.
- Is there anything else you think we or others should know?
Case studies are an important part of both the marketing and sales process, helping give website visitors a glimpse of what you can do before they interact with your sales team. However, for those that enter the sales funnel from other channels, like social media or paid ads, they help your sales team enforce your product or service during calls.
Therefore, work hard to build a decent reputation, deliver a great customer experience and ensure your product does exactly what it says on the tin. And remember, your product is never finished, there will always be room to iterate and improve. To that end, take these questions and make them your own.
These questions were first found at the product marketing alliance, but they are useful and make sense to have at hand.