One of your sales reps sends a breathless e-mail: "XYZ company just signed a contract. They'd make a great success story!" Or, you're preparing to launch a new product and you know that a strong customer case study would be very helpful for substantiating your marketing messages. So, you ask the product manager whether any of the customers involved in beta testing or early product release would be good candidates.
In both cases, what input do you receive? Most likely, just a customer name and contact details, with little if any information on the story itself. And so you must spend the time and effort pursuing these customers to determine whether their stories are a good fit for your needs. And in doing so, you may place your company in an awkward position if the customer is unwilling, is contacted too early, or doesn't have the hoped-for positive experience with your product.
You can avoid these unproductive situations by educating your team about the types of customers and stories that make a good case study. This education effort can be as easy as asking a few key questions in a phone call or e-mail:
- Why are you recommending this customer? Example answers: It's a well-known company, the customer is in a target industry or market segment, or the customer has an interesting product application.
- Has the customer agreed to participate in the case study? If so, can we name the company or must they remain anonymous?
- Is the product deployment or testing complete and has the customer seen valid and significant results? In other words, is this customer story ready to tell now or will it be a better story later?
- What would our prospects find interesting in this customer's story?
The answers to these questions can be brief, just enough for you to determine whether this is a case study you want to pursue. For your colleagues, these questions will help them give you the suitable and contact-ready customer names that contribute to a successful case study program.