If you’ve ever written a case study or collected customer testimonials, you know they’re cooperative endeavors. Your customer has given their time and granted you permission to tell their story.
In return, you may have offered them an incentive or benefit, even if that benefit is simply the exposure they’ll receive on your website.
An important part of this cooperative process is getting customer approval for the case study content or testimonial before it is released to the public to:
- make sure it is accurate
- ensure they’re comfortable with the information you want to published
- maintain good customer relations
- ensure common courtesy
Set out a review process from the start
Ideally, your customer is aware of the steps and deadlines involved in the creation of the case study content. Be sure you know who to send the case study to for review, and who within the organization needs to provide final approval.
If your case study is well written, accurate and true to the tone of your interview, the customer’s review should be straightforward.
Your process could look something like this:
1. Send the case study to your customer for review, accompanied by a letter stating:
- a reminder of the purpose of the case study
- you value their feedback
- you worked from an interview transcript- but the interviewee is welcome to adjust quotes for clarity or completeness
- a reasonable deadline for revisions- perhaps 3 days or 1 week
- a sincere thank you for their time
2. After receiving the revisions, adjust the copy as requested. Provide an explanation for any requested changes you don’t make. (Consider a quick call to discuss the revisions if there are more than a couple you don’t agree with.)
3. Share version 2 with the customer, again with a reasonable deadline for approval or comments. Ideally, this will be your final version and the read-through is just a formality.
4. Just in case, be prepared for at least 1 more round of revisions. Work this into your timeline.
What if your customer doesn’t approve the case study?
4 strategies for overcoming customer reluctance
If your customer expresses hesitation about the case study or downright refuses to allow its publication, don’t give up.
Try to find out what the concern is and offer a solution. Here are 4 common issues and hints on how to get around them:
1. “We don’t want to share this information.”
If there’s sensitive data in your case study, ask the customer to flag the areas of concern and then rewrite that area without those statistics. Can you reframe the information in a way that is more acceptable? Use percentages or describe an experience instead of using exact numbers, for example.
2. “We don’t want other vendors to know what we’re doing.”
Again, determine the specific sections that are a concern. Perhaps you can rewrite parts of the case study to be less specific. Detail is important—but losing some is better than losing the entire case study.
3. “It makes us look bad.”
Is the customer uncomfortable being portrayed as a company in trouble? Rewrite it in a more positive light by making the customer the hero. Paint them as a company seeking new ways to grow and improve.
4. “My boss doesn’t like it.”
Ideally, you have secured all permissions before the interview and writing takes place, but it’s possible a key player at your customer’s office didn’t know about the case study. Offer to speak with the person who is concerned to explain the purpose and benefits of the case study for them.
If all else fails, you may still be able to salvage the case study with one of these techniques:
- Offer to limit the use of the case study. Perhaps instead of posting it on your website, you could use it in a sales package or presentation.
- Offer anonymity. This is not ideal, but with enough detail about the customer experience, the case study can still be of value to readers.
- Use it for internal training, if nothing else. A case study can be a motivator for your employees.
The key? Open communication. Be clear about your expectations from the start. And if your customer puts up roadblocks, take the time to understand and find a creative way around them.