How To Tell The Perfect Customer Story [Template & Examples]

We work with startups to showcase their customers and film them telling engaging stories about the value they're finding in their product. We call that process "telling the perfect customer story".

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Congratulations on finding the best customer story guide on the internet.
So unlike interviewing your colleague on the next desk, there’s more at stake when filming your best customers. You have to be delicate, super friendly – and perhaps most pertinently, you have 1 chance. Don’t mess it up.

That’s probably what’s led you here, you need to put in some groundwork, do your research… then your chances of creating amazing customer stories will be greatly increased. Well fortunately for you, we’ve been geeking out on customer stories for years and we’ve collected + dissected them. Don’t tell anyone – this is your secret weapon.

Customer Stories – here’s what we found.

Need to convince someone they’re worthwhile? In the unlikely event that occurs, this section will prepare you for battle.

Lots of marketing best practice focus on top of the funnel activity – building awareness. BUT crucial to converting those visits into actual paying customers is building trust.

Success stories are the #1 tactic we use for doing that. Here’s a deep dive.

5 reasons to make a success story

As if you need this, but it might be handy to send to the person who’s reluctantly holding onto the money.

  1. Metrics – Hubspot found that 54% of customer prefer to see videos over other marketing tactics. That’s a general look at video, though more specifically
  2. Build trust. Writing text on a web page is easy. Satisfying a person enough to pay for your software, and tell the world about it is hard. AND that’s why these are so powerful.
  3. Brand building. They align you with other companies in the same space (ideally) that are using your product to simplify their workflow. I.e. How often do you buy something online without reading the reviews first?
  4. Increase retention / reduce churn. Bringing your favourite customers to light is a good way of promoting their own offering, whilst also enabling you to build longer lasting and more meaningful relationships with your buyer. This can often be of huge benefit in SaaS / self serve industries.
  5. Value Add in the real world. Success stories are also a great way to bring to life the how your value proposition translates into real world examples.

So that’s it. Whilst there’s undeniably, a brilliant marketing team behind your website, nothing can really compete with your actual customers telling the stories of how they’re using (and loving) your product. It’s these tactics that build trust, and bring messages to light in a different way than traditional copy. Here’s 3 ways Help Scout are seeing value in them:

“First, they help reassure them that Help Scout is indeed a good fit for their business and use case — they’re evaluating a few solutions in the space, so seeing specific use cases really helps them visualize the solution for their business. Second, they give them a leg to stand on when pitching the idea to other stakeholders. Third, learning how others have solved problems with Help Scout gives them a framework on how to approach getting started.”

Tim Thyne, Head of Sales and Partnerships at Help Scout.

If you’re considering an automated video – take another second. Customer success stories are there to build trust, and unfortunately – stock photos and footage don’t.

Great stories are trusted. Trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got left. No one trusts anyone. People don’t trust the beautiful women ordering vodka at the corner bar (they’re getting paid by the liquor company). People don’t trust the spokespeople on commercials (who exactly is Rula Lenska?). And they certainly don’t trust the companies that make pharmaceuticals (Vioxx, apparently, can kill you). As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he has earned the credibility to tell that story.

Importantly to us, stock photos are typically 34.7% less effective at converting leads than images of real people. Avoid generic pictures and invest in capturing the real deal, because it will come across on camera, and show in the metrics. I mean, which photo would you trust more?

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the internet thinks:

B2B Marketing – B2B Marketing’s new Content Marketing Benchmarking Report has shown that sixty-six per cent of the 112 B2B marketers surveyed said case studies were ‘very effective’.

Bright Talk – “BrightTALK’s B2B Content Marketing Report surveyed 600 B2B operators – stating that 55% of respondents consider case studies to be the best way to nudge prospects down the sales pipeline.” Further – “In addition to being the most effective content subject, case studies are also the most effective content marketing tactic (44 percent)”

Hawkeye – A hawkeye study found that between 71% and 77% of B2B buyers cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential types of content.

Forbes Notably stated that case studies (aka success stories) bridge the gap between what your product does and how people actually use it. This is an important gap to close between it lets customers take three steps:

  1. Understand what your product does and how it works.
  2. See how it could benefit them.
  3. Buy your product.

VWO – Wikijob found that by moving their testimonials to a higher position in the site their sales increased by 34%.

DemandGen – Finally, DemandGen found that 73% of B2B buyers have used case studies to make a purchasing decision in the last 12 months.

How to tell a Customer Story.

Here’s the lessons we’ve learned, in telling (increasingly) compelling customer stories for various tech startups.

“In essence, a good case study highlights “what’s in it for me?” from the target prospect’s perspective.”

Syed Balkhi

Hook us in the first 15 seconds.

If you think about web page best practice, then this is a very similar principal. Lead with your most striking pullout, don’t worry about context – worry about peaking an interest.

Who are they? Where do they work? What’s their job?

Give us some context, who are we listening to and why should we care – the cooler the company, and the more senior the person are important here.

What do they use the product for in their company?

Why did they initially search for a tool like yours? What were they looking to solve, and why couldn’t they find a good solution elsewhere?

Showcase the app/website in work.

A good section here is to gather some footage of the person (who we’re starting to like by now) working with the tool. If it’s a collaborative effort, perhaps get them chatting with others too.

Highlight the features that the product is helping them with.

So after they found you, what’s keeping them hooked? Why did they start paying and what are they continuing to love about your product. Thee sweet spot here is specificity. Getting them to talk in enough detail for it to sound like we’re uncovering something, but not too specific that it could only be relevant for that exact business.

It’s the difference between – “We really fell in love with how adaptable the API is, and how amazing the docs are maintained and structured” with “We loved that we could use pull data and trigger an alert based on instances created.”

Stress pain points to emphasise

The situation, the problem, the solution, the outcome. This can be trimmed heavily in post, though usually uncovers some really interesting stuff. Before we got Y we had to do all of our X’s manually, but now thanks to Y we can do all of this in record time.

What your client learned during the process.

This is really interesting. Put your paying customer in the shoes of the person evaluating your software. What were the top things your client considered before purchasing a solution?

What they would recommend others know before starting the process? This can really help turn leads into sales.

14 Customer Success Story Examples

Shoretell customer story

Shoretell Customer Success Story

Box customer story

Box Customer Story

Salesforce customer story

Salesforce Customer Success Story

Volvo, the greatest interception

Volvo, the greatest interception

Pink Ponies customer story

Pink Ponies Customer Success Story

Grammarly customer story

Grammarly Customer Success Story – this is a more interesting article than most. This video was used in lots of ways, as a top of the funnel advert (I’ve watched it about 100 times on YouTube), and also acted as an explainer video.

Perhaps the most notable difference you’ll see is the use of actors instead of real customers. The format is the same, though the polish is far greater because there aren’t limitations on the ‘talent’ used, and the time at set. It’s also marketed as B2C software, which means the names and brands behind the video are far less important.

Surepayroll customer story

Surepayroll Customer Success Story

DevicePilot customer story

DevicePilot Customer Success Story.

Squarespace customer story

Squarespace Customer Success Story

Squarespace customer story

Squarespace Customer Success Story

Parlour Ski Company customer story

Parlour Ski Company Customer Success Story

Salesforce customer story

Salesforce Customer Success Story

Fresh Books customer story

Fresh Books Customer Success Story

Heroku customer story

Heroku Customer Success Story

Help Scout customer story

Help Scout Customer Success Story

Over to you.

We love putting these articles together, they’re super useful for us to keep a grasp on what’s happening in the industry, and to share with our clients before we get stuck in with our own Customer Story videos.

Rufus Denne.

Happiest when busiest. Grew up on a farm in the countryside, and now growing a business in the big city. I love design, tech and marketing.

Questions? Suggestions? DM Flank

Digital Marketing makes you think.

I write because I find it cathartic, and to share with you any value I distill from my experience.

I trust marketing examples, more than what a report said 94% of digital marketers think the future holds – so that's what you can expect from my writing. Live examples, my own insights, and original thought.

You can join me on this quest for answers, and I'll try not to introduce too many questions along the way.

Ted @tedforth
No fluff, just stuff that works
Dustin @plusdust
Love the real world examples + reworks
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