Customer Case Studies: Bringing the Power of Storytelling

Customer Case Studies: Bringing the Power of Storytelling

From Greek mythology to modern day science fiction and fantasy, the art of storytelling has enthralled all audiences. What do these compelling and memorable stories have that most B2B technology customer case studies don’t? Relatable and inspiring heroes, attention grabbing plots, and satisfying resolutions. The secret? Your customer case studies may have the basics, but they may need a better storyteller to help bring out the magic.

Aventi Group has developed a customer case study tool to help your storyteller take your case studies to a new level of effectiveness. Our tool is a rigorous and probing set of questions that case writers can use in customer interviews to extract the critical information necessary for a powerful story. Given that these interviews are only around thirty to forty-five minutes long, every question must count in helping the writer bring out the full three-act play format. You’ll remember the three-act play format from your high school literature class. Let’s go through these three acts and how the Aventi interview tool can help you craft a customer case study that tells a memorable story.

Download the Customer Case Study Questions Tool

Act One – Setting the stage and introducing the hero

Act one of your case study will begin like any good story, with the set up. We break up this act into two parts. The first part creates the setting and sets the context for the story. From a business perspective, the questions in the Aventi tool will dive into the industry involved or the current situation of the company in question. This section is comprised of six total questions to pull the best information needed for each case study. 

For example, the first question on this list states, “Describe the industry sector you’re in.” This question provides the setting for your case study story. Knowing where your story takes place helps an audience picture what is happening and better relate it to their own industry. 

Diving deeper into setting, another question on this list asks, “What is the current situation of the company’s overall health?” Beyond the physical location and industry, this line of questioning helps develop a clearer view of the context surrounding our setting and story.  

Now we know where it takes place and have some context around our story. Next, the questions move into understanding the underlying motivations and overall mission of the company involved. “What are the three most important things your company does for its customers?” This establishes the character and purpose of the context for the audience. 

Section two in act one focuses on the main character of our story: the Hero. The hero in a typical case study would be presented as the position of the subject or their name. In the Aventi Group storytelling strategy, they are much more than that. The six questions in this section further develop and bring light to the deeper persona of the hero and create a vivid image of their position within their company, their responsibilities on the job, their struggles and challenges faced each day, and how they grow and develop themselves.  

Questions for this section begin by getting to know our hero on a deeper level. Questions like, “Describe your professional experience?” establish who the hero is and what they have accomplished while further questions like, “What is your role and important responsibilities?” show an audience how our hero is using that past experience in the present situation. 

After creating an image of our hero’s life in their company, questions move deeper to unravel what they do to learn or grow themselves for the roles they hold. Questions such as, “Whose advice do you tend to listen to the most?” show the reader what is influencing our hero. 

See an example of a case study Aventi Group developed with their own client, Malwarebytes:
Malwarebytes Case Study

Act Two – The hero’s conflict

Now that the audience is invested in their hero, the best part of any story is watching the hero slay the beast. Act two will establish the conflict or challenge facing the hero of the case study. The six questions here aim to understand what obstacles in the workplace were creating a problem for our hero, what triggers or specific issues caused them to embark on a search for solutions, and how they justified making changes or purchases to solve their issue.  

Step one, identify the beast our hero will conquer. Questions for this section begin with statements like, “What is the business situation you were facing that led you to consider a technology purchase?” and “What specific task or function were you finding to be an increasingly bigger concern or issue for you personally?” This line of questions outline the villain of the story. 

Once we know our enemy, questions move into determining what finally sparked our hero into action and why they decided that moment to make a move. Questions like, “What specific trigger(s) initiated the search for options and eventually a technology purchase cycle?” and “Why not continue with the status quo? What would be the consequences if you could not solve these problems?” show our audience what was the final straw for our hero to take action and help the reader compare their own situation to the issue our hero is facing.  

Take a look at another sample case study Aventi Group developed with ServiceNow:
ServiceNow Case Study

Act Three – The hero’s victory

Act three is the moment we have all been waiting for. Our hero finds their solution and attains a resolution to their journey. The first section of act three, the solution, helps paint the picture of a battle won. These seven questions illustrate how the hero decided on a solution, what factors led them to choose that particular option, and ultimately, why they selected the technology vendor.

This section begins by outlining the weapon (vendor solution) chosen by our hero and how they found it. “What factors did you consider in making this decision?” “How did you first learn about our solution” Questions like these help an audience understand how a solution was found and how they can potentially go about finding one of their own. 

From here, we identify which sword our hero chose and if they have used that sword in action. “What products/services did you buy from us? Which have you fully deployed?” These questions will show the audience what kind of solution worked for a specific issue. 

Section two of our last act, the resolution, gives the clear image of how different the hero’s situation is before and after taking the journey towards problem solving. These six questions dive into life after deploying the solution found. How is the solution helping? What difference has it made to the hero and their organization?

For our final section, questions aim to relay the results of our hero’s efforts and show how the solution made an impact. “How did you measure success?” “What are some of the business impacts of deploying our solution?” Here we illustrate the tangible positive result for our hero after choosing a solution from our company. 

Finally, we move to one of the most important questions for our audience. They have seen the setting, met the hero, watched the battle, and cheered when the beast was slain, but they want to know how they can embark on a journey of their own. Asking the hero, “What advice would you give an industry colleague about this whole experience?” gives the audience the firsthand advice they’re looking for before they can move to solving a problem of their own. Once these questions are answered, the hero can take a bow. 

The Art of Storytelling for a Compelling Customer Case Study

Instead of two-dimensional, flat case study, give your prospective customers a three-dimensional experience where they can relate on a deeper level to the obstacles facing people just like them and understand the satisfaction that can be found in obtaining a solution from you. Through the art of storytelling and appealing to human emotions, the Customer Case Study Question Tool can take your case studies from unimpactful to inspiring.    

Download the Customer Case Study Questions Tool

If you have questions, or would like assistance with your customer case studies, contact Aventi Group.

Written By

Sridhar Ramanathan

Sridhar Ramanathan has 20+ years of experience in technology companies – from startups to blue chip firms. As the Marketing executive for Hewlett-Packard’s Managed Services business, he was responsible for marketing worldwide and managing the portfolio of HP services’ $1.1B unit. He also held profit & loss responsibility for electronic messaging outsourcing and e-service business units. Thanks to Sridhar’s efforts, HP became the #1 ERP Outsourcer and experienced growth in the data warehouse market, now well over a $1B revenue stream. Sridhar has played interim executive roles for a number of technology firms, leading their sales and marketing functions in the high growth phase. Sridhar holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BS in Engineering Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He is active in non-profit work as Vice Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, an organization that provides stability and hope to abused and neglected children.