Case Studies: Respecting the Client Interviewee

Case studies (also called success stories) are a great way to demonstrate your expertise to future clients. They put testimonials in context, explaining your business and showing exactly why clients say such nice things about your product or service.

If you want strong case studies, then you need cooperation from your former clients, most of whom are glad to help. But it pays to reassure clients in the following ways:

  • Let them know that they will be able to review the case study before it is published, to make sure they are happy with the way they and their company are portrayed. You also want to give them an opportunity to edit any words they feel uncomfortable with, once they see them in print.
  • Let clients know that your intent is to celebrate them and their company as much as your own. Your case study will say, “Here is someone who was smart enough to know they needed help, and we were glad to provide it.”
  • Before you use client statements in your case studies, edit them for grammar. When we speak, we are likely to wander from the main point or repeat ourselves or enter meaningless bridge words like “actually.” Without changing the meaning of what clients are saying, make sure they come across as fluent and knowledgeable.
  • Make sure you respect the client’s confidentiality. Many nonprofits help people who would be ashamed, bullied or even endangered if their involvement with the nonprofit became known through a case study. Sometimes a professional client will have moved on from the company where you originally worked together. If you are asking for their story, give them the opportunity to request a pseudonym or to be referred to by only first name or company position (“a vice president in a travel company”).

When you give a face to your clients by telling their story–and your own–you create a connection with future clients. The line between satisfying the needs of your organization and satisfying the needs of the client you are interviewing can be a thin one. Let TWP help you find the right balance in your case study or success story.