When selling your product or service to prospective customers, you make a stronger case when you can show concrete results. This is where a case study comes in. A case study strengthens your sales pitch by showing firsthand results. You can boost your case studies by interviewing previous customers and asking them to share how they benefited from your business. Interview your loyal customers using the following questions to build strong case studies you can share with new prospective clients.
What is a Case Study?
A case study is a detailed report that showcases how your product has benefited previous clients. It is a way to show firsthand how your product or service can benefit potential new clients. Case studies help you build trust with new clients — 88% of whom trust online customer reviews and ratings. Conversely, only 14% of customers trust advertisements.
Asking the right types of questions to your previous customers will help you better craft your final case study. Since you will be writing these studies with new clients in mind, drafting your questions beforehand will give you the right information to highlight how you have previously solved similar client issues in the past.
How to Write Case Study Questions
This section offers an outline of sections that should be included in your final case study and sample questions to ask of your clients.
Start With the Backstory
Before writing your case study questions, determine why you are writing it. Outline the major problems you intend to highlight and create questions that will allow you to articulate how you solved them. The following section includes case study question examples you can use to conduct your client interviews, but you can modify them based on your goals.
When interviewing your previous clients, first introduce them to your audience by including some background information on their company. Next, set up the case study by presenting the initial problem.
- Tell me a little bit about your business and its history.
- Who are your target customers?
- Describe your role at the company.
- What are some common challenges faced by businesses in your industry?
- What problems or challenges were you facing that led you to seek out our product/service?
- Why was this specific challenge a priority?
- How was this problem impacting your business?
- What other potential solutions had you tried before, and why weren’t they working?
Establish Your Relationship
After setting up the problem and why it was significant to your customers, ask them to define their relationship with your brand. If you are interviewing repeat customers, ask them how they discovered your business, why you were their chosen solution, and what's kept them coming back. If you are interviewing a first-time client, ask what drew them to your business over another.
Some questions can include:
- How long have you been a customer with us?
- How did you first hear about our business?
- What made you choose our company over competitors?
- How did you envision using our product or service to drive your solution?
Have Them Demonstrate Your Product
Once you have set up the initial problem and delved into how your client chose you to solve it, you can get into the details of the actual case study. Ask specific questions about how your client used your product or service.
Be detailed. These answers will help you draft a case study that resonates with prospective buyers who are facing the same issue.
- How did you use our product or service to create your solution?
- Which features of the product did you find most beneficial?
- Was this product a replacement for a similar tool you had used in the past?
- How many people at your company use our product?
- What are the advantages of using our product over another similar one?
- How was the setup and implementation process?
- Did you contact the customer service team any time during the process?
- If so, how was your customer service experience?
- How was the rollout process?
- What types of feedback have you received from employees about our product?
Outline the Product’s Benefits
This section of your interview will delve into the actual solution and its results. Use this section to ask about specific outcomes and metrics the company used to track successes.
- How did our product address your specific challenges?
- What kinds of measurable results did you see?
- Which key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics did you measure to determine whether our product successfully solved your problem?
- How has your business changed since you deployed our product or service?
- How is your initial problem currently impacting your business? Is it still an issue, or has it been resolved?
- How would you recommend other customers use our product to get the best results?
Wrap Up the Interview
At the end of the interview, ask some general business case study questions relating to customer satisfaction and relationship management. You can use these to conclude the case study. This section of the interview is also likely to generate some potential customer quotes you can use in your marketing materials.
- Have you referred us to your friends or clients?
- How likely are you to work with us again?
- How can we improve our product to best meet your future needs?
- In which other instances can you see our product providing a viable solution?
- Is there anyone else I can talk to for more information?
How to Ask Your Clients for an Interview
If you have been in business for a while, you probably know your best advocates. Think about your top customers, and start by asking those who are the most likely to promote your business. If you know a client who often refers customers to you, ask them for a specific example of how your company helped them solve a problem.
You might draw a blank when asked to identify your best advocates. In this case, talk to your sales team or your project managers to see if they know of any potential customers who would be happy to share their success stories.
Consider your customers’ time. Don’t approach them for an interview in the middle of a busy season or if they have had a recent issue with your company. Get familiar with your selected clients and how they intended to use your product so you have some background information before starting the interview.
Finally, write a personalized request. Don’t send out a form email requesting case studies. Make your requests relevant to each potential interviewee so they know they are valued customers.
How to Write the Case Study
Instead of taking notes during the interview, take a recording on your phone or a portable recording device and transcribe it when you’re done. You can take minor notes as you go along, to help when you go back to transcribe. This way you can be more engaged in the interview and follow up on interesting information that might pop up. Be sure to check that your recording hardware or software is working ahead of time, to ensure you don't lose valuable information during the interview.
The case study questions listed above are arranged as an outline of a typical case study. Start by introducing the company and the problem they were trying to solve when they sought out your business. Next, explain the process of how they used your product to solve their problem.
End the case study with numbers and statistics demonstrating how you helped the business successfully solve its problem. Make sure you get specific numbers and figures to illustrate your clients’ successes. If you don’t get them during the initial interview, follow up with a phone call or email.
Sample Case Study Questions and Answers
These sample case study questions and answers demonstrate how to extract information from your interview and turn it into an engaging business case study that is interesting and informative.
This case study from Switch, a digital marketing agency, details how the company was able to help a client improve its return on investment (ROI) on search and Facebook ad campaigns by moving them from their in-house marketing team.
The case study starts with an impressive statistic — the company improved its ROI on search ads from 1.2x to 19x in a short time period. The case study breaks this statistic down for potential leads who might not be familiar with marketing terminology, indicating that its client was able to increase sales without spending more on search engine ads.
While the actual case study interview is not published, a sample question and answer that would have generated this data could be:
- Q: How did shifting the development of search engine ad campaigns to Switch impact ad performance?
- A: The Switch team was able to change our approach. Before, we used a single strategy on our search and Facebook ads. Their team was able to create split campaigns targeted to different audiences and run A/B tests to refine the messages. In a couple of months, our ROI on search ads went from 1.2x to 19x.”
This case study goes into detail about how Switch worked with its clients to refine the Facebook and search ad strategy, ending with impressive results.
Rogers Communications featured this case study detailing how its client Brampton Caledon Community Living (BCCL) used the company’s cloud-based mobile phone system to better service clients. This case study is simple, laid out with headings like “Challenge” and “Solution.”
Rogers Communications pulled relevant quotes from the client and included them in text boxes throughout the study to break up the text. Rogers also included direct quotes from personnel at BCCL, making a strong case for its product. While it doesn’t offer hard numbers like the previous example, it does include a quote detailing how the cloud-based system has improved the work environment.
Again, the interview for this case study is not included in the example, but it does include the answers as client quotes.
- Q: What led you to switch over to the RogersUnison cloud-based platform?
- A: “We had been using more laptops and mobile phones for work outside the office and Rogers Unison was essential to this transition.”
Best Practices for Conducting A Business Case Study Interview
When you’ve found client advocates who are willing to talk to you about how your company led them to success, draft your interview questions. Keep these best practices in mind.
Being well-prepared for your interview is the best way to ensure its success. Before meeting with your client, learn what you can about the client so you can flesh out the case study. Conduct a mock interview to prepare. Talk to your sales team or the client’s specific project manager for details to better understand the client and what they were facing when they hired your company or purchased a product.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Structure your questions so the interviewee has to give detailed answers. If you limit your interview to "yes" or "no" questions, it can be hard to gather enough information to write your case study. Open-ended questions let your client get into the specifics surrounding the study.
Do a Deep Dive
One reason you should record your interviews and transcribe them later is so you can focus on the client’s answers. Often, information will come up in an answer to one question that will prompt you to ask a follow-up question. Recording your interview lets you deviate from your prepared questions to get a more robust analysis of the case.
Getting Started on Your Case Study
Case studies are a great marketing tool for building credibility. They give prospective clients a better understanding of how you work and how you can provide alternative solutions for key issues. But the key to writing a good case study is to start with a quality interview.
You have the tools needed to draft powerful questions. So start the process by looking through your list of past clients and determining who would be the best to interview. Develop a thorough understanding of their situation and their history with your company, and then conduct your interview.
After your first few case studies, you'll be confident on how to best structure questions and refine your interviews to get the best information. Soon, you will be crafting detailed and engaging case studies to best market your business.