At their best, customer case studies provide compelling proof points that support your message. And at their worst, they read like messaging documents sprinkled with stilted quotes. Yawn. So how can you make sure your customer case studies compel—not repel—readers? With persuasive quotes from actual customers.
I’ve been writing case studies with Content Bureau for more than nine years; I’ve written hundreds of case studies. It never gets old. That’s because every case study involves an encounter with a fascinating person—our client’s customer—who has a unique voice and story to tell.
In my opinion, the perfect quote captures the customer’s voice as she shares the benefits of our client’s offerings. For instance, a customer once said that switching to our client’s offering was “like going from a sedan to a race car.” Now, doesn’t that sound more authentic than just putting quotation marks around a messaging document?
It’s easier than you might think to develop effective, memorable customer quotes. You just need to ask, listen, and condense.
- Ask. Interview the customer and ask open-ended questions. Avoid yes or no questions. Avoid doing most of the talking. Since you want the customer to use her own words, guide her with questions likely to elicit a genuine response. You can help the customer steer clear of bland, monosyllabic answers by asking “How would you describe the benefits of feature X to a peer?”Or “Focusing on a specific process, how does feature X save time?”
- Listen. Ask a question and really listen to the answer. Then ask follow-up questions to learn more. If taking notes interferes with your ability to listen, record the call. Explore topics the customer is excited about—you’ll be positioning yourself to write a compelling quote the customer will approve.
- Condense. Transform the customer’s opinion into eloquent quotes by condensing her actual words. Proactively shape what she’s told you into smart, powerful statements. Use a freer hand in crafting quotes on topics the customer expressed the most enthusiasm about, and avoid tepid quotes by staying away from subjects that didn’t interest the customer.
As a final step, have the customer review the quotes in the context of the case study as a whole. Everyone wants to sound more articulate. When your customer sees her eloquent quotes framed by a thoughtful, well-constructed story, she’ll be more likely to approve the entire document—and feel confident about her relationship with your company.