Case studies are a powerful tool to show customers how your business works and what you can do. You can show your work, what results you’ve gained for your clients, how you operate, and show how much your clients love your work. But, if you can’t get the right information, it’s hard to make a great case study. The right interview questions and the right method can help you make a better case study.
What is a Case Study?
Before we discuss strategies and interview questions to make a better case study, it’s important to ask, what is a case study? A case study is an in-depth investigation into a particular example which is representative of a larger whole. In this way, you are “studying” a particular “case” that is representative of your larger body of work. A case study might use text, images, statistics, or video, and a great case study often uses all of these.
What Do Case Studies Do?
Whether in science, journalism, business or other areas, case studies are meant to illustrate a point using a single example that is representative of a larger whole. This might mean pulling one participant out of an experiment who experienced average results, asking them about their experience, and explaining it in a report in order to better illustrate what the experiment actually means.
In business and marketing, a case study should illustrate the experience of a particular customer or client, and show the results a business is able to achieve, the type of customers the business works with, and how the business operates. In this context, a case study usually highlights a customer that had great results, or a high-profile customer that is likely to be recognized by others. With a high-impact case study, there are many different ways to use the case study to reach your prospective customers.
Tips to Make a Better Case Study
With the right interview questions, you can ask your clients the right questions and get the responses you need to showcase great results, show what your client does, and show how your business solved their problem. A few other tips can also help you create a more impactful case study.
- Explain who your client is: While it’s important to showcase your company and what you do, it’s also important to explain who your client is and what they do, too. If the reader doesn’t know who your client is or what they were looking for, the work you did won’t have much context, and won’t be very impactful.
- Show results clearly: Using specific numbers, such as how many dollars or hours you saved your client, and putting these in a bulleted list, will make it clear that your company gets results. Even readers who only skim the page will be able to clearly see this.
- Use before and after information: In your case study, explain the problem your client was having, how this was affecting them, and how their situation changed after they worked with you. Specific numbers in a side-by-side bulleted list can be very impactful as well.
- Use video and images: Images and, especially, videos get more engagement and tend to be seen as more authentic than purely text case studies. With video case studies, readers can clearly see that your client is a real person, and they can hear about the results this person experienced in their own words.
- Get all the information: To make a great case study, it’s better to have more information than you need. You should have enough information to cover all the elements of a case study, including your customer’s background, the challenge they faced, their process for finding your company, alternatives they might have used, how you solved their problem, and more.
- Show the highlights: Though you’ll have plenty of information, not all of it will be interesting or notable. Whether you have plenty of video footage, text, statistics, pictures, or all of these, you’ll need to edit. This way, your readers and prospective customers won’t get bored, and the most important parts of the case study will shine.
- Prep your interviewee: Once you set up a time and place to meet with your client for a case study interview, give them a copy of the questions you plan to ask, so they can be prepared. Encourage them to ask you about any interview questions they’re unsure about, so you can explain, or offer alternatives.
- Showcase your case studies: These tips can help you make a better case study, but you also need to display it. If your case studies are buried somewhere on your website and visitors can’t readily see them, they’re not that helpful. Use your case studies in multiple ways to get real value from them, and make them easy to see.
8 Interview Questions to Make Better Case Studies
With all of the previous tips in mind, let’s take a look at a few interview questions to make better case studies. These questions will help you gather the information you need, and steer the conversation towards interesting highlights.
1. “Tell me About Your Business and What You Do.”
This question is intended to get your client to explain the details of their business and their industry. This not only gives the start of the case study much-needed contextual information, but also helps your interviewee relax with a question they can easily answer. Those that are reading the case study or watching the video case study later will also be able to quickly identify which case studies are most relevant to them.
2. “When Did you Start Looking for [Your Type of Business]? And How Did You Decide [Your Business Name] Was Best?”
This question asks your client to elaborate on how or why they started looking for businesses similar to yours. It also asks them to explain why they picked you. Most likely, this will lead your client to start explaining the problem or challenge they were experiencing, which will make a good segue into later questions.
3. “Did You Try or Consider Any Other Alternatives Before Working With Us?”
Your business might’ve been your client’s first and only choice, so you might simply get a “no” or “not really” in response to this question. However, if your client did try other alternatives, and they explain why these alternatives weren’t ideal, this can help you show why your business is different from your competitors. Prospective clients reading or watching your case study may be doing research about your company and your competitors as well, and this can help your business rise to the top of the list.
If you don’t want to call out specific competitors in the case study, you might ask your client not to mention specific names, or you might omit this from the text section of your case study.
4. “Tell Me More About the Challenges or Problems You Had that Led You to Work With Us.”
Your client may have mentioned the challenges or problems they had previously, but this encourages them to explain it in more detail. They might introduce the problem by saying something like “we were wasting so much time on…” or “we were losing money and…”. These types of statements or explanations are likely to resonate with other customers facing the same problems.
5. “About How Many Hours [Or How Much Money] Do You Think This Problem Was Costing You?”
This type of question will help you get specific numbers to add to your case study. These can stand out in the previously mentioned bullet points, and they’ll also stand out in highlights you pull out of your text or video.
6. “Would You Say that Our Team Effectively Solved This Problem?”
This question should get your client to elaborate on how you solved their problem. They might talk about a highly effective product that you provided, a great team member that they worked with, or they might talk about the results that they experienced.
7. “What Stood Out to You About Our Approach/Method?”
Your client may have answered this question previously, but, if they haven’t, this follow-up question can encourage them to provide more details. They might mention your exemplary customer service, your creative solutions, attention to detail, or another aspect.
If they aren’t sure, you might offer some subtle reminders, like “You mentioned in an email to me that [a particular product] really impressed you” or “The other day, you mentioned that our sales manager, Sarah, really helped you out.”
8. “With This Problem Solved, Have Your Costs/Time Requirements Decreased?”
Previously, your client may have mentioned approximately how much a particular problem was costing them, either in time, money, or another metric. This question is meant to return to that point, and instead address how much the situation has improved. You might ask a follow-up question about specific numbers—costs reduced, hours saved, sales gained, or something else—which will help to show the results more clearly.
The right interview questions can help you make a better case study. Whether you’re creating a text-based case study or a video case study, these questions will help you get important data points and information, which you can highlight in your case study, and make it more impactful.
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