Three “Stealth Sections” You’ll Want in Every Customer Success Story

February 13, 2018 by
Customer success story

We're all familiar with the typical format of a customer success story (also known as a case study). We know the four basic sections: (1) customer background, (2) challenge, (3) solution, and (4) results. In many success stories, in fact, we see those four sections called out in subheads with the same names.

But did you know the best customer success stories usually contain three additional sections?

I like to call these the “stealth sections”, because they’re normally hidden within the four sections just named. But they’re just as important as the others in maintaining reader engagement and ensuring the overall success of your case study.

Unfortunately, because they’re not so well known, these “stealth sections” are often left out of customer success stories. Many copywriters don’t know they exist… or how powerful they are.

That’s why I’d like to talk to you today about the three case study “stealth” sections. We’ll look at them in the order in which they normally appear in a good customer success story.

The Journey

The first stealth section is The Journey. The Journey recounts the twists and turns in your customer’s search for a solution to his problem. It usually forms the latter half of the Challenge section of a customer success story.

The Journey describes the obstacles the customer encountered, what competing solutions were considered and why those were rejected, any evolution of the customer’s specification, and how the customer finally found your solution.

The Journey is an essential part of any story, not just success stories. In literature, this phase is often called the response – because it describes the main protagonist’s early response to the challenge he faced – when that challenge still had the better of him.

Describing the hero’s initial struggle with his problem adds conflict to the story. This makes the story more engaging, because conflict is essential to a good story. It's what holds the reader's attention, makes her want to find out what happens next. As they say in the novel writing game: if you don’t have conflict, you don’t have a story.

The Journey leads naturally to the Solution, where we’ll find the next of our stealth sections…

The Implementation

The second stealth section – the Implementation – follows the introduction of your solution.

This section, depending on the nature of your offering, may include:

  • Delivery (if this presented any special challenges)
  • Installation or set up
  • Testing of the installed solution
  • Customer training on the product
  • Customer reaction to initial use

This discussion should also include any obstacles encountered.

Your prospects aren’t stupid. They know problems crop up in any complex implementation. And they’ll be suspicious if it sounds like everything went a little too smoothly. Prospects want to know what problems other customers faced, how they were resolved, and the role you, the vendor, played in resolving them.

This is good for you, since it gives you the opportunity to show how your company went the extra mile for that customer. Plus, you get to show the customer’s positive reaction to your support. This makes your Implementation section a terrific place for a direct customer quote.

Like the Journey, the Implementation is an essential part of every story. In fiction writing, it’s called the Attack, and forms the third quarter of most novels. It’s where we see our hero beginning to come to grips with solving his problem, gaining energy and initiative, and overcoming new obstacles with the help of his new ally: your company.

The Implementation sets up the Results, where we’ll find our last stealth section…

The Future

The very end of your customer success story – the end of the Results section – should be devoted to your customer’s plans for gaining further benefits from your solution. Those benefits will be gained in The Future, which is the name of our third stealth section.

Depending on the nature of your offering, this Future section may encompass:

  • Increased use of your solution through…
    • Additional applications
    • Purchase of additional units
    • Expansion to other areas of the organization

– OR –

  • Adding capability to the solution though…
    • Extensions
    • Upgrades
    • Accessories

This section should also capture the customer’s reaction to his success with your solution. It may include your customer's forecast for continuing his relationship with your company. Thus, the Future section is the perfect place for a final quote summing up the customer’s overall experience.

The future section works like a resolution or epilogue, which follows the climactic scene of a novel. It projects the continuation of the story – and the benefits to be gained from your solution – into the future. It paints the promise a "happily ever after". Which is exactly what your prospect hopes to gain from your solution.

Take-away Points

  1. Customer success stories need to be more than just Background-Challenge-Solution-Results. They need to be engaging
  2. To make customer success stories as engaging as possible, be sure to include the three “stealth sections”:
    • The Journey
    • The Implementation
    • The Future
  3. The Journey is your customer’s journey to find your solution.
  4. The Implementation shows how you got your solution set up for the customer, and his reaction to your solution and support.
  5. The Future previews how your customer intends to capitalize further on your solution and his new relationship with your company.

Next Steps

Need help crafting your next customer success story? Need a writer who knows the "stealth sections" that make those stories more engaging and informative for prospects?

Call CopyEngineer at (+39) 011 569 4951. Or send me an email at info@copyengineer.com.

Photo credit: bleakstar / 123RF Archivio Fotografico

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