By Melanie Dawson, Marketing Co-ordinator of Sage UK Ltd

I truly believe case studies and referrals are important to any business - why? Well, personally if I’m looking at a product, then I like to see what customer experience you have given to others. This could be feedback on eBay, recommendations of the product on Amazon or product ratings.

After all 70% of people trust opinions posted online, so why not promote your business by letting potential buyers have an insight into the service you offer.

If you’re not sure where to start, and need to interview a customer for a case study face too far for your website for example, here’s a guide on how to contact your customers and pull together a case study.

Consider the following first. Decide on what you want to get out of the case study, any questions you need answered, do you have a specific industry / customer you’d like to interview. What’s in it for the customer? e.g.: free PR, if it’s a video perhaps you could provide them with the case study to use on their website. Most customers will be simply willing to help you due to the service / product you offer.

Sit down and pull together a list of questions and a job brief. Decide on a date and schedule to work to as to when you will do the interviews / when the video or copy will be pulled together. If you’re using an agency or someone is pulling artwork together for you, book in job / date with that agency and provide briefing document as to how you want the final copy / video to look like, what the story is and any colour / branding you’d like to reflect.

Here’s a list of items you could include in your own or agency brief:

•Dates / deadlines / location

•Finished brand look & feel i.e colours customer names shown on screen etc

•Finished file type and size required e.g.: 360p FLV / MP4etc

•Require T&C’s back from customers and keep a contact list of customers

•Your contact details if going to a show or venue

•Obtain a customer contact list and exclude none mailings, restricted accounts,

•List of questions to be asked

•Provide T&C’s document to use enable you to use the footage or copy

•What backdrop to use (beware of private information on show if videoing in an office)

Once you know exactly what you want, you can start to contact your customers to request if they’d be willing to recommend you. You can either contact them by telephone or email. I prefer telephone as you’ll get a greater response.

Always keep in mind, your customers have their own business to run too, so don’t be annoyed if they say no. Some people are shy, too busy or uninterested in providing feedback, while others will be able to help. Be friendly, informative and outline what is involved in terms of timescale and dates. Always thank them for their time even if they say no.

Once a customer has agreed to provide you with a case study, confirm dates in an email with a short write up, as to questions you will ask / what they expect to happen on the day of the interview. Include T&C’s so they can see what they are signing for upfront, rather than drop it on them on the day.

Here’s a suggested process you can follow:

1.Send out a reminder the week before and contact customer by telephone the day before to confirm they’re available.

2.Meet and greet customers, get the customer to sign any T&C’s and finally film or write up the interview.

3.Once you’re back at the office, send the customer an email to thank them for their time and advise them that you’ll be in touch for them to see the final case study.

4.Bring together your copy or editing and forward it to the customer for their final say and sign off.

5.Keep any T&C documents and a list of the customers in case you need to contact them again in future.

Good luck, remember the above is only a guide, you may need to tweak it for your industry. Or as stated in the opening paragraph, you could have ratings on your website products / services which the customers complete themselves. Take a look at the case studies we have built at Sage.

Don’t forget to come along to Sage World – free business event 12th-13th October – visit the Sage World website here

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