The 3 Most Powerful Questions to Ask a Happy Customer

BY Joel Klettke
July 30, 2016

If you could only ask a happy customer three questions, what would they be?

In putting together case studies, I’ve talked to a LOT of happy customers – and it’s always my mission to get the best quotes, details and insights out of them in the shortest time.

People are busy and doing our clients a favor by agreeing to an interview, so I need to honor that by keeping calls quick.

That means being smart about the questions I ask.

While Case Study Buddy’s interviews are always more than three questions, We’ve developed a shortlist of internal favorites we ALWAYS ask because they get people to open up and share the critical bits of their story we need almost every time.

Before I share the questions, you NEED to understand the context we’re asking them in.

A super quick primer (Don’t skip!)

When interviewing your client for a customer success story, there are three critical parts of their journey you need to learn about:

  • Before they found your solution, so you can understand the pain points, problems and priorities they had when they had when they went hunting for a solution,
  • During the purchase and onboarding process, so you can understand how they made their decision, what their early impressions were and why they chose you, and
  • After implementation, so you can find out what the results of your relationship have been and the impact you’ve had on their business.

The best case studies will walk a reader through these phases, and having quotes or specifics about each will make that story more compelling.

Got it? Great. On to the questions.

1. Before: “What was going on in your business that sent you looking for a solution like ours?”

A huge hat tip is due to Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers here – this question is a favorite of hers, too.

The reason this question is so powerful is because it is LOADED. A customer can’t help but confess their pain points, problems and purchase triggers when talking about the disaster that was happening internally when they went on the hunt.

What’s more, this can also crack the door open to incredible follow-up questions like, “What else did you try to solve the problem?”, and Why weren’t those solutions a fit?”

But if you could only ask them one of the above, this question would give you the best backstory.

2. During: “What made you confident that [solution] was a fit?”

Hoo, boy do I love this question, because it gets an interviewee to talk about two things: Their journey to a solution, and the unique value proposition that tipped the scales in my client’s favor.

An interviewee can’t help but drop a positive tidbit while comparing solutions at the same time – a sneak peek into their purchase decision that’s invaluable and at times surprising.

I love following this question up with, “…And did anything else impress you in the early going?” to get that next-level gold, too.

3. After: “…And what has that meant for your business?”

Okay, so technically this is a follow-up question.

Usually, before you can ask this you need to preface with a question about results, like “How has that impacted efficincy?” or “What have your cost savings been like?”

But the reason I love this question more is because it turns numbers into meaning and makes those results personal. Instead of just knowing the client saved $60,000 for example, we find out what they were able to do because of that – often a more interesting story.

This adds a layer of depth and credibility to customer stories that make those results all the more impressive.

Don’t rush it!

I want to wrap up this post by saying that while I’ve condensed the interview process down to just three questions – and mentioned I like to keep it quick – the worst thing you can do in a customer interview is whip through it.

These questions are powerful – but don’t be foolish enough to think that you won’t need to listen, probe or repeat yourself! The art of a great interview is making a customer feel heard, not rattling off a list – so use these questions with caution.

Think you’ve got a better question than any of the above? Bring it on in the comments – I can take it!

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