Updated Sept 2021: Case studies and testimonials are critical parts of most marketing strategies. Gathering the juicy details and customer quotes that make a case study sparkle, however, takes some savvy when coming up with and asking relevant case study questions.
Your best shot at capturing the insights, data and color you need is through thoughtful case study interview questions—all while respecting that your customer is busy and may not be able to spare much time to talk.
In this post, we’ll explore the best case study questions to ask at your next customer interview. This is the 4th post in a 7-part series on best practices for case studies.
Prepare your case study questions in advance
Be thoroughly prepared before you even schedule the case study interview. You’ll probably have just 20 or 30 minutes to capture your customer’s story:
- who they are
- what their pain is (and why they came to you)
- how they implemented your service
- what results they experienced
Usually, the most logical way to structure your case study questions is chronologically—it’s helpful to think of the case study as a story with a natural narrative arc:
- beginning (background and challenge)
- middle (solution, including implementation)
- end (results)
The best case study questions to ask
Thinking in terms of the 4 categories below will help you craft the list of case study interview questions you’ll want to ask:
Tell me a little about your company.
What do you love about working there?
What are your goals? Your company’s?
What was going on at your company that led you to us?
How serious was the problem?
What solutions did you try before you came to us? What results did you see?
Why did you choose to work with us?
What service did you adopt? Why?
How did you implement our service?
What challenges did you encounter during the transition?
When did you first notice results? What were they?
How did our service change your business?
What has it meant to your overall operations?
Do you have any data you can share?
What advice would you have for others considering our service?
Tailor these case study questions to suit the person you’re talking to. Eliminate any that seem repetitive or irrelevant and highlight 1 or 2 from each category that are most important. Leave space and time for follow-up questions.
Find a convenient time and method for the interview
Be as flexible as possible when you’re scheduling the case study interview, and ask for 30 minutes of time.
Don’t settle for an email case study interview. Not only are people more candid in conversation, but you’ll also be able to ask spur-of-the-moment questions and explore ideas as they’re presented.
That leaves you with 4 options:
- face-to-face (this is the best and most personable choice; try to arrange this if your customer is in your region)
- video call
- phone interview
- repurposing webinar
Take notes and record the interview
A recording and transcription of the case study interview will ensure accuracy and give you peace of mind. Down the road, you can also use the transcript for other marketing activities, such as grabbing testimonials and pull-quotes, writing a blog post and more.
Use an app to record phone calls, or use Zoom or Skype to record video calls. Make sure you have permission to record the conversation.
Send the case study interview questions in advance
Some people worry that sending case study questions in advance will result in less candid and honest responses. Not true. You want your customer to be at ease during your case study interview, and you want them to have all the information and data they need at their fingertips.
Providing the case study interview questions in advance will lead to a more informative and useful interview. It also ensures you cover all the important points. During the interview, you can jump in with follow-up questions to dive deeper into certain areas if needed.
Watch out for these 4 common interview mistakes
1. Yes/no questions
Does your list have any yes/no questions? If so, be ready with follow-up questions. Better yet, revise the question so it’s open-ended to elicit a more thoughtful response.
2. No numbers
Don’t be afraid to ask for numbers, concrete examples or more information. You need these for a quality case study and this is your chance to get them. Don’t be afraid to repeat case study questions or rephrase them to make sure you get what you need.
3. No flexibility
You don’t need to be rigid about asking every single question on your list. The best insights are often unexpected so allow the conversation to flow a little—but don’t get too far off-topic or you’ll run out of time.
4. Not listening
Don’t think you already have all the answers. Go into the case study interview with an open mind and be ready to listen.
Download our interview cheat sheet
Get the powerful questions we use at Uplift Content when conducting a case study interview with a customer. Plus benefit from 7 interviewing dos and don’ts.
Download 21 Interview Questions to Help You Uncover Case Study Gold [Cheat Sheet]
Get help with your case studies
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