What is a customer success story?
A customer story is a testimonial that details your customers’ success with your product/service, explaining how your product’s key features led to customer benefits such as higher efficiency and cost savings.
Your customer stories are arguably the best marketing material you can have.
When prospects visit your website, they are looking for credibility. An endorsement from a third party provides an unbiased testimony of actual results your product has helped achieve and assures that your previous customers were happy with your product or service.
Who is it for?
The target audience for your success stories is usually C-suite-level decision-makers who have little time on their hands. They don’t care too much about the nitty-gritty of how your product works, but they do really care about how your solution will affect their company’s bottom line. For example, how did the service increase the company’s ROI? When will the company start seeing results?
Elements of a winning success story
Conduct effective customer interviews
Before you jump into creating a customer case study, you must interview the customer first.
Here are 24 “proven” questions to ask during a customer testimonial interview that will help solicit quotes, insights, and quantitative results. It is ideal to set aside about 45 minutes and use Zoom or a comparable video call service to record the conversation, so you can focus on the dialogue rather than taking notes.
If you're not sure how to ask your customers for a testimonial, don't be afraid. You can follow the templates here so you can feel confident when reaching out and asking for their time.
Some customer interview tips to remember:
- Prior to the interview, ask them to prepare some numbers that can help quantify the benefits of implementing your solution.
- Thank the client for making the time.
- Verify how much time the client has for the interview.
- Ask if this interview can be recorded so you can focus on the conversation.
- Confirm that the materials will only be used publicly after approval by the client.
- Your interview questions should be designed to feel a bit repetitive to capture a more accurate narrative.
Let the customer tell the story
A story of a satisfied customer beats any sales pitch you have. For potential customers, learning about product benefits from an unbiased third party can have a tremendous influence on their purchasing decisions.
Chances are you already have existing landing pages, product sheets, and whitepapers that provide detailed explanations of your product features. A customer case study should not sound like a sales pitch and highlight real-world stories about your solution instead.
A good, persuasive case study is usually broken down into the following elements:
- Challenge: What challenges did your customers face prior to using your solution that prompted them to seek you out?
- Solution: How your solution helped solve these challenges
- Results: Key performance indicators (KPIs) highlighting the benefits your customer received from using your solution. We will look at examples of KPIs in the following section.
Quantify the results
Numbers are always compelling! You’re building a lot more credibility when you associate the claims in customer stories to dollars, time, or percentage, numbers.
Look at these two statements:
- Statement 1: “ABC Software helped us retain more customers.”
- Statement 2: “Within 6 months of using ABC Software, our Net Promoter Score (NPS) increased by 40%.”
Doesn’t statement 2 sound a lot more convincing?
Now, how do you get your customers to quantify the benefits? This can be the most challenging part of the customer interview if the numbers were not clearly benchmarked before and after the solution implementation.
It is helpful to ask your client to prepare some of these numbers in advance:
- % increased productivity
- X in cost-savings
- Y amount of time saved
- Z times increase in output
By presenting metrics, you enable your prospects to quickly grasp the impact of your product, and you may even help them make a stronger business case for the success they’ve already achieved.
Choosing the right customers
Carefully select customers who have a good story to tell. For instance, you may have a customer who is a huge fan of your product but has a hard time articulating the pains & benefits addressed and achieved with your solution.
You will be able to build an engaging, convincing story if you find customers who can clearly define the benefits of your solution and can quantify the results.
And quality over quantity. You don’t need hundreds of these customers, 5 to 10 is plenty.
Make the story shine
Once you have the content of the story down, you will need to package it up nicely and decide where it will live to best reach your audience.
Success stories can be presented in a wide variety of formats, including blog posts, whitepapers, and videos.
The reality is that the bulk of a success story will end up getting skimmed. The key here is to find a format & design that clearly communicates the benefits of your solution to your audience even when they are browsing quickly.
Keep your success stories concise and to the point. Most written ones can be told in 1,000 words or less.
For whitepapers, you will want to make the layout appealing. Consider including an executive summary or bulleted highlights on the first page. Create subheaders and featured customer quotes that allow readers to quickly scan the text for the information they need. Make sure you are using brand colors to stay on brand and cohesive with the rest of your marketing materials.
Likewise, you can turn the story into a blog post or a landing page. Check out Kalungi’s success story with Fraxion for an example of this format.
If you have the budget and resources, a video success story is an excellent way to blend an organic customer interview with b-roll shots of your customers using your solution in their natural environment. The sweet spot for these is around 2-5 minutes.
Here are a few ideas on where you can showcase the final story:
- A “Customers” or “Success Stories” website page with a compilation of success stories in blogs or video form.
- Scatter customer quotes throughout your website with CTA links to the full success story.
- Share bite-size pieces on your social media platforms.
If your B2B SaaS product has paying customers who are willing to provide positive feedback, start conducting those customer interviews so you can show it off for everyone to see!
Customer success stories serve as great sales materials and offer you a place to showcase your solution’s positive impact with proof.
Try out the tips mentioned above and you can create a compelling compilation of customer success stories that will help you attract more customers and drive sales conversion.