I write a “Closer Look” feature for Construction Equipment Distribution magazine that focuses on a single supplier to the construction equipment industry. Rather than rely on a lone interview with the company’s CEO or president, I always ask for the names of a few customers to interview.
Customer interviews provide a “real world” framework for the reader. Instead of describing a company’s product and services from the CEO point of view, I integrate a story of how their products or services provide a solution for customers.
The profiled companies are amazed at the information I gather. There is no big secret to this.
When you need a great customer story follow these steps:
1) Ask customers to start with the source of their initial frustration or need.
2) Answer the questions of who, what, when, where and why. Get as much detail as possible.
3) Ask if there was anything that surprised them about the product or service.
4) Ask if there was anything that could have been done better.
5) Give them an opportunity to review their comments.
Don’t just ask for a testimonial and rely on the customer to deliver it. If you get it at all, it will likely sound like something no one would believe. Hiring a professional writer to conduct the interview will provide the best results. Customers open up more when they talk to a third party. It shows a level of professionalism. If that’s not in the budget, at the very least, select someone who is not familiar with the customer/client relationship. Review the questions in advance. Follow the steps above and let the customer know you are truly interested in hearing what they have to say. That’s the secret to getting a great customer story.