What if I told you that RIGHT NOW—in the middle of a crisis—is the PERFECT time to double-down on customer success stories?
It might sound crazy—especially if this story popped into your feed while you’re at the grocery store, standing in a checkout line 30-people deep, clutching the last package of toilet paper like your life depends on it, and stink-eyeing the person behind you who isn’t practising social distancing.
But these are crazy times. Store closures, bans on social gatherings, and wide-scale layoffs have upended life for people across the country—and around the world.
In the midst of that, business owners, marketers, and content creators still need to find a way to connect with customers. And, at the moment, you’d be hard-pressed to find content that does that better than case studies and customer success stories.
Here are five reasons why these stories are especially powerful given our current situation…
1. Customer success stories address our big common pain point: COVID-19
Do you know what’s incredible about the stories your satisfied customers are telling right now? They ALL mention the current pandemic—and, hot damn, they make you look like freakin’ heroes.
Look at this quote plucked out of a recent Case Study Buddy customer interview:
“We live on the coast, so we’re not just dealing with COVID-19—we also have hurricane season around the corner. With all the changes happening right now, it’s nice that Workamajig makes project management the least stressful part of our day.”
This quote was taken straight from the mouth of The Brandon Agency’s Accounting and HR Manager, Lisa Capparella, and she’s talking about the ERP solution built specifically for agencies, Workamajig.
Workamajig’s customers love their product, so hearing high praise during an interview isn’t new per se… but what we don’t always capture is this beautiful moment of hyper-relevant real-world applicability.
Businesses are struggling. Key decision-makers are looking for any piece of flotsam they can cling to that will help them keep their head above water. What these people don’t care about are vapid words of encouragement and platitudes that sound smart but do nothing to solve their problems.
What they want—what most of us want right now—is a way to get back to normal without sacrificing the health and safety of customers, colleagues, and employees. They want concrete solutions.
For a person seeking a reliable way to help employees work from home, you can bet they’re going to sit up and pay attention when Lisa says,
“One highlight has been transitioning from an in-office team to a remote workforce without any issues.”
And, for Workamajig, having a customer success story with the central theme of “When everything else is chaos, at least we can rely on Workamajig” is pure PR gold.
2. Unique stories are EVERYWHERE
One of the problems a lot of would-be interviewers (and writers) encounter is that, after a while, customer testimonials start feeling same-y. You can only iterate on sentiments like “we love X company” or “they feel like part of our team” so many times before the praise starts bleeding together.
The difficulty is getting past “fluffy” sentiments. The stories that stick with you talk about raw challenges and step-by-step solutions that deliver specific results.
These stories aren’t easy to extract—so I’m super thankful to be part of an incredibly talented team that has a process for pulling these “story hooks” out of customer interviews. It makes my job much easier.
But what’s really unique about writing customer success stories during a global pandemic is that these stories are all of a sudden flowing much easier—and they’re everywhere.
Unasked, we’ll hear about how clients are supporting their teams, enabling their remote workforces, and taking every possible precaution to protect their business and their customers.
Everyone has a story to tell—and most of them pertain to COVID-19. That makes these stories incredibly relatable and immensely powerful (and persuasive) marketing tools, because we’re all coping with the same thing. If one of your customers is facing a challenge, most of your audience probably is as well.
It’s time to get those stories. Your customers can’t afford to wait weeks or months for solutions. They’re looking for them NOW. If your service or product is that solution, you need to share it.
These are the customer success stories you need to be telling.
3. Many of your customers will be eager to help
Perhaps you’re worried that now isn’t the best time to ask a customer to partake in an interview. That concern is warranted—everyone has a lot on their plate right now.
In fact, when news of the pandemic broke, Case Study Buddy approached the ask very cautiously. We’re always respectful of your customers, but we knew that it might be hard to get customer buy-in while everyone was in crisis mode.
We couldn’t have been more surprised. As Joel says:
“I can’t think of another time over the past few years where more people would be receptive—even excited—to lend a review, share a testimonial, write up a recommendation or be part of a case study. Because right now, people want to help each other out.”
The press has a way of pushing the ugly side of humanity into the limelight. And yeah, I’ve seen the stories about price-gouging hoarders of hand sanitizer too.
But when I scroll through Twitter, that’s not usually what I see. The majority of my feed is dominated by Good Samaritans going out of their way to help other people and other businesses out of tight situations. They’re spending their time, money, and ingenuity to help others.
There’s a strong “we’re all in this together” mentality, as we all do our parts to flatten the curve and come out stronger on the other side. There’s a good chance your customers would leap at the chance to participate in a success story if asked respectfully.
Plus—something we didn’t anticipate, initially—many people are currently stuck at home and seeking human connection and distraction. For many of these people, a success story interview is actually a welcome reprieve.
4. Customer success stories cut through tone-deaf advertising
In early March, Ford pre-emptively pulled its new TV ad campaigns originally intended to air during ‘March Madness’. Instead, they launched a new campaign that describes how Ford is responding to and helping its customers through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thursday morning of last week, it became clear we were at a tipping point where we expect typical messaging in the marketplace isn’t going to work the same way. It’s important to be reassuring right now and not trying to say to people ‘Rush into your car dealership for a sales event.’”
Ford’s two new ad spots, ‘Built to Lend a Hand’ and ‘Built for Right Now’ play on its regular tagline, ‘Built Ford Proud.’ These ads specifically address payment relief options for Ford Credit customers, pre-emptively addressing what would undoubtedly become a major pain point in the weeks come.
“We saw things were changing rapidly, and knew our messaging then scheduled for the following week would be incredibly tone-deaf as is. So at that point we knew we needed to be empathetic, we needed to be reassuring, so that was the initial tone for those ads,” says VanDyke.
But not every company pivoted that agilely. For every company doing it well, there are dozens of others pushing out tone-deaf content. In the current environment, those really don’t play well. If I see an ad that features people eating cheese dip with their fingers tomorrow, this is what that company looks like:
A strong, sudden need for new content that can replace tone-deaf advertising is a very real pain point for a lot of companies right now—and it’s an issue that customer success stories tackle head-on.
If your current ad campaigns are missing the mark or your content library looks a little thin, nothing beats the authenticity and persuasive power of social proof.
5. Success stories are gifts that keep on giving
“But what about when this is all over,” you wonder. “What do I do with this customer success story?”
Let’s just get this out of the way—case studies are evergreen. The world won’t soon forget about COVID-19 but even if (and hopefully when) it’s ancient history, you’ll still have an amazing story that shows off a time you delivered a tangible solution to a customer in need.
In the meantime, you’ll have a powerful and persuasive piece of social proof that you can incorporate into ad campaigns, share through social, splash on landing pages, discuss in blog posts and podcasts, and celebrate in newsletters.
These stories build trust in your brand. They demonstrate the power of your solution. They help turn potential leads into new customers, even years after the use-case is over.
Case studies will always be powerful or persuasive—but the middle of a crisis is a uniquely rich time to share stories that hit hard and have a BIG impact on turning traffic into leads and sales.
The world is coming together to deal with a common challenge and people everywhere are looking for the solutions you offer. Customer success stories show these leads that someone just like them decided to trust your brand, and now they’re reaping the benefits.
If case studies have been on your to-do list, it’s time to invest. This is the content that’s going to help you weather the storm. And Case Study Buddy would love to help you create them.
Need crisis-mode content that converts?
Contact Case Study Buddy and let’s find out if we’re a fit!