You’ve committed the time, the tools, and the talent. You’ve overcome challenges and emerged with a shining victory. Isn’t it time to toot your own horn a little? Your customer is ready to evangelize your brand, so now’s the time to share their experience with potential buyers.
A customer success story, also known as a client story or testimonial, is a narrative that describes a client’s experience with your company to raise brand awareness for your products or services. Prospects who read customer stories are in the consideration phase of the customer journey. In other words, they are still assessing your product or service before making a purchase. You should consider your success stories as a portfolio of real-life use cases that prove your company’s value.
Every success story is a chance for your business to connect with potential customers in a meaningful way. A strong narrative goes beyond dry facts and figures to touch on the human impact of business decisions. Further, a success story should include the challenge your customer faced before using your product, how the product impacted their business, and proof points to support your claims.
At Spur Reply, your success is our inspiration. We craft customer stories for clients spanning a legion of industries and specialties. In this blog, we will overview five time-tested, client-approved best practices for writing a compelling success story.
#1: Get to the point
When it comes to pitching your company via a success story, remember the mantra “short, but sweet.” You need to hook your reader immediately and leave a memorable impression. Case studies are traditionally broken down into three components: the problem, solution, and result. Throughout all three, remember to keep your language direct and straight to the point.
Answering three questions will help keep you on track:
What was the obstacle you and your customer needed to overcome?
What action(s) did you take to solve the problem?
What positive outcome(s) did your product or service deliver to your client’s business?
It may be tempting to take detours into your company’s business philosophy or elaborate on related wins, but don’t get distracted. Less is more.
#2: Back up your claims
Authenticity is key to gaining a potential customer’s trust. Backing up your accomplishment with verifiable facts and data goes a long way to instilling confidence in your brand. Offer proof of your claims, either with facts and figures (quantitative data) or more general descriptions of positive qualities or characteristics your client gained from your product (qualitative data).
For example, say you helped a client automate their team’s monthly performance data report process. Quantitative proof points could include the number of hours your client’s team saved from having to complete the process manually, how much direct revenue your client generated through freeing up their team members’ bandwidth, or a percentage that reflects the increase in report accuracy.
If you or your client don’t have access to quantitative results, using qualitative proof points is also an effective way to demonstrate your product’s value. Back to our previous example, qualitative results might include stating that your client increased performance transparency, increased employee satisfaction, and engagement, or created a path that allowed their team to prioritize data analysis over data collection.
#3: Use powerful language
Put away that test-marketed, legal department-approved corporate speak. Readers don’t want to be “sold.” They want to be inspired.
You’re excited about your success, so let that show in your writing. Use active verbs to give the story energy. Avoid run-on sentences with multiple clauses that might lose your reader. Employ “power words” that evoke a psychological or emotional response like, “breakthrough,” “superior,” or “conclusive” just to name a few. (Check out this website for more on power words.) This is your chance to seize the attention of potential new customers, so make it count!
#4: Share the struggles
Everybody likes a happy ending, but like any story worth reading, they also enjoy a little drama and conflict along the way. While it may be tempting to focus on everything that went right on your road to success—presenting a picture-perfect scenario from start to finish isn’t authentic or genuine, and your potential customers will see through it.
Walk the reader through the steps or process you took to address the challenge your customer faced. How did you build that particularly stubborn line of code that required hours of overtime to create? How did you overcome the sudden change in scope that sent the team scrambling to rethink the project’s parameters? Eschewing conflict in a success story may seem like an easy way to show your company in the most favorable light possible, but your reader will better connect with the story through candor.
#5: Include a testimonial
Your business’ success could be the most groundbreaking advance in your field this year, but how is it helping others succeed? Readers want to feel like they’re connecting with another human being, not like they’re being sold to by a faceless entity. Consider including experiences of real beneficiaries to add that touch of empathy and authenticity by asking your client for a testimonial. A testimonial puts a face to your claims and serves as a real-life example of the value your product or service provides. Testimonials are essential to your story as they help establish trust and credibility among prospects and customers.
An enticing testimonial goes beyond a general recommendation of your product or service. The quote should explain the challenge your product or service addressed, along with specific outcomes your product delivered as a result. Additionally, you can use the testimonial in other sales and marketing materials such as pitch decks, website pages, and social media posts.
The power of storytelling
No matter what new product, technology, or solution you’re writing about, making that emotional, human connection through a story with a clear beginning, middle and end can help readers better understand how it benefits them. Using language that resonates with the audience, describing the challenge your company helped solve and the process you took to get there, in addition to backing up your claims through data and testimonials are the key elements to telling a story that will convert prospects to customers.
Interested in creating success stories that resonate with your target audience? You can trust that Spur Reply has the expertise and experience to bring your business victory to life. We’d love to chat.
Adam Reinhard is a consultant at The Spur Group focused on marketing, communications, and sales initiatives. Building on his background in journalism, Adam believes in the power of telling great stories and focusing on what matters to an audience.