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Use Stories To Show How Effective Your Service Is

September 15, 2020

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Doug Haines

Customer Success Stories

Customer success stories, or case studies, are an essential part of your content marketing strategy. They allow you to show future customers how effective your service is and how it has helped people in a similar position.

The key to creating an engaging customer success story is to make it relatable to the people reading it. You can do this by telling an interesting story with a personal angle, and by being specific when explaining how your accounting firm can help. 

We’ll illustrate each of the points using a case study from PwC titled “Kapsch: A strategic transformation”.

Here are seven points you should consider when creating a customer success story.

#1. Tell an Interesting Story

Case studies need to resonate with the people reading them. While facts and figures do help, people relate most to engaging stories. 

There are not many organisations better skilled at storytelling than Pixar. The company has shared the rules it uses to craft great stories, which we can use when creating case studies. The fourth rule is of particular benefit to us – it says that you should always use this basic structure when telling stories: 

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

To make the rule applicable to accountants, we can translate it into:

  • Introduce the character — namely, your customer.
  • Explain what their life was like before they used your service. What challenges were they facing?
  • Talk about why they hired your firm and how you helped them.
  • Show how their life is better now you have solved their problems.

Example:

The PwC case study does an incredible job of setting the scene. It sets the story up as a historical family business that has continued to stay at the forefront of technology for over 100 years. Here are the first two paragraphs of the article.

There is a thrilling magic to watching nocturnal traffic dart across an illuminated urban landscape. Lights blur into colourful patterns as millions of vehicles dance their way to different destinations, their tempos moderated by lights, tolls and road patterns. In the 21st century, this mosaic is being infused with new technology that is helping to speed up journeys, reduce pollution and avoid congestion in ways that will significantly change urban life. At the forefront of this transformation is Kapsch TrafficCom, part of the Kapsch Group, a family business which is in the process of morphing its own business to keep ahead of these changes.

Kapsch was founded as a precision workshop in Vienna 1892 to build telephone equipment and Morse telegraph devices. Over the past century, the rhythm of Kapsch’s own business has changed many times, much as traffic flows themselves, as technology shifted and new markets emerged. Around the turn of this century, Kapsch started to invest in electronic toll collection systems, and installed these worldwide. Today the company’s state-of-the-art traffic and mobility technology touches millions of vehicles across the world. Kapsch is a well-known brand in Austria and the parent group, which employs more than 7,000 people, has revenues of 1.1 billion Euros of which 700 million Euros comes from the Kapsch TrafficCom operations.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to be quite so poetic in your own case study. But this is still a great example of how you can tell a story that is far more than just explaining how you helped a business with its accounting.

#2. Give Your Stories a Human Element  

People relate most to characters they can empathise with. To make your story more appealing, include personal details that bring your stories to life.

For example:

  • Instead of saying a small business was struggling with cash flow, say the owner was worried they would have to let some of their long-standing staff go due to cash flow issues. 
  • Instead of saying better processes helped save a sole trader five hours every week, talk about how they no longer have to work late into the evening to organise invoices, and how this lets them spend more time with their family. 

Be sure to focus your interview on how your service affected your customer’s life, and make sure the questions are open-ended. Don’t be afraid to get customers to expand on answers if you think what they say is interesting.

Example:

PwC makes the case study personal by introducing the CEO of the company and talking about his vision for the future. It also includes quotes and even a video.

The entrepreneur, who took over as CEO in 2001, has a vision of a future in which connected cars, equipped with internet access, constantly communicate with other vehicles and roadside infrastructure to offer new ways for people to live, park and shop. This would include new services that help people navigate and intelligent communications embedded in the cities of the future, making all the different travel options available: from cars to public transport to bikes and autonomous vehicles, “We knew the time was right to transform our business and organisation, and we have already successfully done that back in 2001” he says.

By introducing the “vision” it sets the CEO up as someone with a dream he wants to achieve. This is a far more compelling proposition than just saying he needed to restructure the business. 

#3. Choose Examples Similar to the Businesses You Are Targeting

The point of a case study is to show potential customers how your service can help them. The subject of the case study must be similar to your target audience.

If you are targeting freelancers, the case study should show how you have helped other freelancers. If you target energy companies, then show how you can help them specifically. If you want to target multiple sectors with different needs, try to create a case study for each one.

Example:

As one of the Big Four, PwC targets large companies around the world, which often need help on large and complex projects. In the case study, PwC mentions that the Kapsch parent group has revenues of 1.1 billion Euros, an ideal customer.

…across the world. Kapsch is a well-known brand in Austria and the parent group, which employs more than 7,000 people, has revenues of 1.1 billion Euros of which 700 million Euros comes from the Kapsch TrafficCom operations.”

#4. Make it Specific 

It can also help to include details about the results you helped a company achieve. If you helped a small business reduce their tax bill, explain precisely how much they saved. Talk about the things they were doing wrong and how you were able to cut the bill. 

Example:

PwC put the most impressive figure straight after the introduction. Any CEO of a large company considering restructuring their organisation is going to be impressed by the results.

Kapsch TrafficCom introduced a new corporate structure that reflected Strategy&’s Fit for Growth* approach. It has helped free up more than US$100 million for new investments since 2014.

#5. Don’t Forget About Design

The case study should appear professional. Include plenty of headings, images, and diagrams that help tell your customer’s story. 

Example:

PwC includes plenty of design elements throughout the page, including videos, diagrams, and quotes that help tell the story. They also break each section of the information up into small, easily digestible chunks.  

#6. Include Calls to Action

If someone is reading your case study, they are almost certainly considering using your service. Because of this, you should be sure to include specific calls-to-action throughout the report. 

Consider asking them to set up a meeting with someone from your team to discuss the issues they are facing. 

#7. Promote the Case Study

It’s important to promote your case study effectively, PwC uses various channels. 

Example:

PwC is incredibly active in its content promotion efforts. It has Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of followers that it uses to share case studies.