business case study template

How small businesses can use case studies to grow faster, make more money, and stay competitive

Joel-Klettke-CaseStudyBuddyjpg

We talked with Joel Klettke, the owner of Case Study Buddy, on how a well-crafted case study can boost a company’s profits and help them close more potential customers.  Creating your own case study can we intimidating but thankfully Joel walks us through step by step on how to create one of these powerful case studies.

Over now to Joel.

What is a case study template?

What is a “case study” anyway?

If you had the misfortune of having to do “case studies” back in your college days, breathe easy: we’re not talking about dry academic examinations of a business case.

At its simplest, a case study is a customer success story that demonstrates how you solved a problem for one of your clients, using THEIR words to tell the tale.

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Why bother creating case studies?

Because case studies are objective, third-party proof that demonstrates to a lead that you’re capable of solving their problem because you’ve already done it for somebody like them.

Too easy? Need proof?

I could give you a rundown of dozens of smart reasons to make case studies a part of your content efforts, but just three are all I’ll need to convince most smart business owners:

1. They’re incredibly effective.

If I could only give you one reason, this would be it: case studies drive leads and close deals better than almost any other content asset out there.

And I wouldn’t be blowing smoke, either:

Clearly, customer success stories carry some weight with your prospects, so if selling is the goal, you’ll need them in your arsenal.

2. They’re the ONLY content asset that can be used across the entire funnel.

Whether you’re doing cold email outreach, presenting in a pitch meeting, upselling an existing client on a new service, or educating your internal team on best practice, case studies can do it all.

Where other content is limited in where and how it can be used, case studies can be effective across the board: from attracting new leads and informing their purchase decision to closing the deal and upselling them once they’re already loyal.

3. They’re absurdly easy to repurpose (which makes them cost-effective, too.)

One case study can be turned into multiple content assets, from blog posts and slide decks to PDF handouts and onsite testimonials.

Once you’ve captured a great story, there are dozens of ways to use it and rework it to suit the medium or situation. And because they’ve evergreen assets, they never stop being relevant unless you materially change how you do business or who you serve.

template for writing a business case study

How do you write a case study?

Putting together a case study might seem simple on its face: just pull a couple numbers, whip together “problem,” “solution,” and “results” sections, and wait for the revenue to roll in… right?

…nope. Case studies *do* have a predictable, proven format in the traditional problem, solution results layout.

But capturing and sharing a great story means doing more than just filling in those blanks.

To do case studies right, you need to have a process that helps you:

  • Capture the most compelling story possible from your client…
  • In as little time as possible…
  • While getting them to share metrics and quotes…
  • In a clear, organized, and efficient way…
  • Put it all together in one persuasive package.

One last tip before we hit step 1: before you jump straight into booking client interviews and writing up studies, it’s wise to spend some time defining your strategy.

  • What’s your goal?
  • Are you trying to showcase a new service, or reach a particular niche?

This should impact who you ask to take part and how you write up the final product.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

interview customers for case studies

Step 1: Interview Your Client

You cannot write a persuasive case story without your client’s input.

It is THEIR feedback that makes the story interesting: their quotes, their experiences, their honest assessment of the problem, solution, and results. That means you’re going to have to get them on a call – or at very least get the customer to respond to a survey.

I’ve written at length about when to ask for a case study and how to ask, too.

But when it comes to interviewing your client, these two tips will set you up for success:

1. Structure the conversation in a B/D/A format: Before, During, and After.

There’s a reason infomercial follow a format like this:

“Before the Magnificent, I was constantly having to shove whole eggs into my mouth like some sort of baboon. With the Magnificent Egg Slicer, I can quickly and easily slice n’ dice up to 48 eggs at once, in one sitting! Thanks to the Magnificent Egg Slicer, I’ve lost 300 pounds.”

It tells the story of the person’s “before” state (the problem they faced), “during” state (their experience of the product/service), and “after” state (their results.)

It’s a very natural story arch – and that’s what you want your client to do: share their story. Ask them questions about their experience before they found you, what it was like to work with you, and what they’ve seen as a result.

If you’re stumped for what to ask, you can check out some of my favorite client interview questions.

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2. Send your client the questions ahead of time—especially those about results.

This will make sure your client feels comfortable ahead of the call, but it also accomplishes a more important task: it gives them time to pull data and numbers so they can respond meaningfully about the results they’ve seen.

Without prepping them ahead of time, they’re unlikely to be able to cite specific impact numbers on a call, so don’t miss this step!

Bonus tip: Make sure to record your call so you can quickly have it transcribed afterward!

case study business highlights

Step 2: Put together the “Summary” highlights.

It’s likely that many of your readers are going to skim or look for a quick summary of the overall story.

Putting together a little highlights summary is a wise idea – and you can repurpose it to include it in a sidebar of your study, like in the example below:

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(Case Study Example Source)

Your highlights should include:

·       A quick, one-sentence summary of who the client was

·       Bullets on the key details of the problem, solution, and results section

A reader should be able to ONLY read your highlights and get the gist of the story.

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Step 3: Set the stage with a compelling introduction.

Too many case studies waste valuable time and attention painstakingly laying out the details of the client.

At Case Study Buddy, we tend to go light on company profiles in the intro and instead present a quick overview of the situation to plunge a reader right in – after all, we’ve covered the company profile in the highlights, remember?

A great case study intro…

Introduces the client personally

If you can refer to a person inside of the company, their role, and the problem they had to solve, you can make the story about a relatable protagonist instead of just another company.

Sets a relatable scene

As soon as you’re able to, bring in a quote from your client that explains the situation in their own words. This helps your reader begin to feel empathy and see themselves in the story – and makes the scene a more credible and believable one.

business case study challenge section

Step 4: Build tension in the “Challenge” section.  

In the “Challenge” section, your job is to help the reader feel the weight and seriousness of the problem that was facing your client.

The best way to do that is to let your client tell the story, bringing in quotes from them that share…

  • What the problem was,
  • Why that problem was important to solve,
  • What they stood to lose by not solving the problem, and
  • What ultimately drove them to look for a solution like yours.

These details help paint a picture for leads that they can see themselves in. You want readers to be nodding along, thinking, “Yes! I’ve felt like that! We face those same issues. I wonder where this is going…”

case study solutions

Step 5: Explore the “how” in the “Solution” section.

Your solution section might begin with a brief retelling of how your client found you, or what it was about you that gave them the confidence to choose you as the one to solve their problem.

Then, you want to quickly move on to exploring the way you solved that problem.

But be careful!

The most common mistake when writing a “Solution” section is to ignore the “how” behind the “what.”

This is your chance to share details on the process and steps it took to deliver for your client. The solution section’s job is to give your reader a glimpse at the specific actions taken as well as why they were taken in that particular scenario.

Spell it out!

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Step 6: Communicate the impact in the “Results” section.

This is your chance to step up and show the world what working with you can do for them. Don’t waste it!

While you certainly want to list out the impact numbers and details of the results your client has seen, don’t shy away from also discussing what seeing those results has meant for your client:

  • How has their life improved?
  • How has the business changed?
  • What have those results meant for their department? Other departments? Their boss?

You want your solutions section to fully explore the great outcome they achieved. As always, make sure you include at least one quote from your client discussing this impact in their own words.

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(Case Study Example Source)

Step 7: Add a call to action.

You’ve just told a great story. Your lead is excited about what you’ve done, and what it could mean for them.

Now is your chance to invite your lead to take a meaningful action, whether that’s connecting with you, signing up for a demo, or giving you a call. Make sure that the headline you use to introduce the call to action is specific to the problem you just solved in the story or the outcomes you provided.

Remember: your lead is reading this story because they have the same problem or want the same results for themselves.

At Case Study Buddy, we devote an entire page to the call to action. It’s that important!

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Step 8: Go back and add a headline that captures attention.

There’s a reason you do this last! Your headline needs to intrigue people enough to read, so now is the time to be specific and wave your best outcomes right where they can see them.

A “How” based headline (e.g. “How X helped Y achieve Z”) is your best move here, as leads will want to know the process and details behind the great results you’re sharing.

Conclusion

We appreciate Joel taking the time to help our Broadly readers succeed by creating case studies. If you have questions or feedback please let us know in the comments. If you need help creating case studies consider working with Joel at Case Study Buddy.

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Sharing Some Good News

Sharing Some Good News

Today, we have the opportunity to share some good news for our company: Broadly has raised $10M in investment capital, thanks to our partners Foundry Group, Calibrate Ventures, and Team Builder Ventures.

What does that mean for you, our customers?

Plain and simple: it means we get to move faster on developing the tools that keep you connected with customers and win you new business. Some of you already know about our web chat, which ensures current and potential customers feel heard, and takes care of simple initial tasks, like getting basic information. But we’re also developing mobile apps and other tools that everyone from painters to roofers to salon owners to pool and spa repair experts can use to keep things running smoothly.

We really believe that local businesses deserve the tools that provide an Amazon-level of service, speed and convenience – but with that personal connection modern consumers want when doing business in their own communities.

Apparently you do also – because your support of Broadly has earned us the #107 slot on the 2018 Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in America. (Big thanks!)

As we continue to grow, we’re excited to take you with us. Thanks for the privilege of supporting you in your work.

Stay tuned! There’s more goodness to come.

customer service email response template

Customer Service Email Response Templates

Customer service is an important building block for the success of any company.  It is expensive for a business to survive solely off of new business so it’s incredibly important to make customer retention a priority. Keeping customers loyal allows your company to grow and loyalty stems from great customer service.

Data shows that the average customer will spend 67 percent more in his or her third year as a customer compared to the first year. That’s two-thirds more money for far less work. That is a strong incentive to keep your customers coming back year after year.

So, how do you keep your existing customers?

You give them a great experience every time, treat them with respect, and make them feel special!. All of this can be done with the right customer service tools and support. In today’s digital world, much of customer service is conducted online, often via live chat or support emails.

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In this article we will cover:

  • Benefits of Using A Customer Service Email Template
  • How Templates Can Accidentally Hurt Your Business
  • Email Templates For Specific Customers

Let’s get started honing your customer service emails so that your business can thrive.

Benefits of Customer Service Templates

Benefits of Using A Customer Service Email Template

A great customer service rep takes each interaction on a case-by-case basis. However, oftentimes they are asked the same questions over and over. For these situations having a template makes a lot of sense for the following reasons.

Benefit 1: Templates save customer support time

With templates as a starting block, your customer support team is able to spend less time typing the same thing over and over and be able to help more customers. Of course, you will not have a template for every question but having them for the most common questions allow your customer support staff to optimize their time to help a great number of customers.

Benefit 2: Templates ensure the company messaging is consistent with your brand

When on a support team you get asked similar questions frequently, templates can assure that everyone on your team is giving the same solutions and responses to those frequent questions.

Having synced up answers will save you and your customers a lot of headaches in the future.

Let’s look at an example.

Say two different customers email your company complaining about a new product release. You don’t have a customer service email template to use, so your support staff answers using their own wording. In the example below, take a look at how varied your employees’ responses could be without a template. Then, imagine how the customer might react to each one.

Bad Support Response:

Dear Alex,

We are sorry to hear you hated the product. We stated clearly what it would do on the packaging, so it is not our place to make things right. Perhaps you would like to try [PRODUCT] instead?

Thank you,

Amanda

Good Support Response:

Dear Bonnie,

I’m sorry you are not satisfied with the new product. It is our intention to make items that make your life easier, not harder! I will pass along your feedback to our design team. I hope you’ll consider giving us another chance. Please feel free to use code WEARESORRY to get 50% off your next purchase.

Thank you for your business.

Warmly,

Charles

You can’t guarantee friendly and helpful customer support, but having a framework for your staff to follow can greatly improve their ability to help customers. A template makes it much harder for employees to fall out of line, and your company messaging stays consistent.

Though there are many great reasons to use customer support email templates, it’s wise to be wary of their drawbacks as well.

Email Templates That Can Hurt Your Business

3 Ways Email Templates Can Hurt Your Business

Templates can save you time and future headaches, but they can also hurt your reputation if you’re not careful. Because templates are generally a “one-size-fits-all” solution, some discrepancies will need keen attention to ensure the templates don’t backfire on you. Below are some of the ways email templates might cause harm to your company.

1) Blank Customization Fields

Nothing enrages a customer quite like feigned empathy. When using a template, there are often blank fields into which the service rep is supposed to put personalized information to make the customer feel more valued. These fields are vital to making the email feel personal, and they save lots of time.

Imagine sending a scathing email to a company about a bad experience, only to receive an email back addressed, “Hello [CUSTOMER NAME]”. It will be even tougher to win back that customer’s trust, let alone their business. To avoid this mess, create a checklist for your staff to follow before they hit send.

2) Typos & Grammar Errors

While your service reps might fill in all the blanks correctly, they may not catch any typos in the template. People using email templates expect them to be perfect examples, thus they’re not looking to edit for grammar mistakes.

If one typo slips through and ends up being sent out to every single customer that request support, you immediately come off as sloppy and/or inexperienced. Customer trust can be lost with something as simple as a “hell” instead of “hello,” so be careful.

One way to sidestep this mistake is to have your marketer or copywriter proofread all the templates before they are sent out to the rest of the staff. Someone who’s trained to find these mistakes will do a much better job of ensuring quality. If, somehow, a mistake does slip through, and someone notices it, make sure your staff knows to report any mistakes immediately so no further harm can be done.

3) Does your employee care?

Email templates are only helpful if the person sending them genuinely cares about the customer. If the customer service rep doesn’t truly want to help the customer succeed, that apathy will show, and your company will have to deal with the flack.

To make sure email templates work in your favor and not against you, simply keep these warnings in mind when implementing them. The benefits of email templates should far outweigh the drawbacks if you use them correctly.

Customer Service Email Templates for Different Types of Customers

Customer Service Email Templates for Different Types of Customers

Depending on the types of support requests you receive, below are some email templates for various types of customers you will likely come across.

How to Respond to Angry Customers

If you work in customer service it is now unusual to hear something similar to this: “I hate your product/service and I’m very upset.”

Though angry customers can often seem inconsolable at first, remember that this person initially wanted to give you their business, but something went wrong. It’s your customer service rep’s job to help right that wrong, and it can be tactfully done through a well-written support email.

Responding to an angry customer via email is very similar to the way you would respond to a negative review. Be empathetic, don’t place blame, and offer to make things right.

Example support email:

“Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for your email and for bringing this to our attention. I am sorry that you’re disappointed with [PRODUCT OR SERVICE NAME]. Could you please let me know what specific issues you’ve encountered? I’d love to help where I can and pass along your suggestions to our team, but I need just a bit more information before doing so.

I understand how it can be frustrating [TO SIGN UP FOR A SERVICE OR PURCHASE A PRODUCT]  and not have it meet your expectations, so hopefully, we can get this sorted out for you. If not, I’ll be happy to issue you a refund.

Thank you for your business,

[REP NAME]

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How to Respond to Happy Customers

When a happy customer emails you with praises, count your lucky stars! This is a wonderful indication that you’re doing things right, and you should do everything you can to keep this customer raving about your company to their friends. Ensure your customer service team responds as they should, and ask them to leave a positive online review.

Always be sure to thank the reviewer, be personal, and include a call-to-action. A great example of a company going above-and-beyond to keep an existing customer is a golf brand, Callaway

in the below email:callaway

The customer posted his story on Reddit and said, “I want to buy more Callaway products.

Lots more.” You can win a loyal customer like this from your own support emails to happy customers.

Example support email:

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME]

I’m so happy to hear you are pleased with [PRODUCT OR SERVICE NAME]. [COMPANY NAME] strives to deliver the best customer experience, and it makes our day to hear we have accomplished that.

We count ourselves lucky to have you as a customer and would be so happy if you could please share your experience on Google or Nextdoor. It’s people like you that inspire us. We also have a pretty great loyalty program if you’d like to be rewarded for your recommendations as well.

We appreciate you.

Thank you again!

[REP]

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How to Respond to High Maintenance Customers

No matter how much support you offer, there will always be the needy customers. These types of customers constantly need hand-holding, but you know that you can’t waste a ton of time catering to their specific needs. To respond to these types of customers, it’s important to remember that they likely feel entitled to the extra attention they are asking for. This could be a delicate situation. The below email template could keep their graces without wasting too much time.

Example email template:

Hi [CUSTOMER NAME],

Thank you for your email. We would love to help solve your issue. Please note that in order to give your situation ample time and care, there are a few things we will need from you to help with the process.

-Your order number

-Best time to call you

Is [PHONE NUMBER] a good number to call? We can resolve your issue over the phone so that there are no miscommunications and we can get things settled as soon as possible.

I appreciate your help and look forward to resolving your issue.

Thank you,

[REP]

How to Respond to Customers Who Have Feedback

There is often going to be people who think they can do your job better than you or tweak your product to greatly improve it. Instead of reacting harshly to a well-meaning email that lists unwarranted suggestions for improvement, use the opportunity to cultivate a stronger customer relationship.

Obviously, this customer cares about your business enough to try to help it improve, so use customer feedback as a way to grow and perhaps if you get enough feedback on something specific you know what changes your customers want.

Check these email templates on asking for reviews and customer feedback to employ smart damage control while making the customer feel valued.

Example email template:

Dear [CUSTOMER NAME],

We are so happy you’ve chosen to purchase [PRODUCT NAME] from us. We appreciate you taking the time to send us feedback. As a way for us to keep track of customer suggestions, we would love for you to fill out this feedback survey. That way, your comments get to the right people and we can improve your experience moving forward.

Thank you for your business.

Warmly,

[REP]

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Conclusion

As you can see, email templates can really come in handy, especially for sticky customer service situations. If you need to keep your branding and messaging consistent while managing support emails efficiently, email templates are a savvy tool.

Plus, these formatted documents will help you keep customers happy, resolve their problems, and encourage them to continue using your business. Acquiring a new customer can cost a company anywhere between five to 25 times more money than simply retaining current customers, so don’t undermine the value of a good customer service email template!

9 Ways to Promote Your Customer Testimonials

Whether you’re shopping online, going into a store, or even picking up the phone to learn more about a product or service, I’m willing to bet you did your due diligence and read some customer reviews ahead of time.

Customers are more empowered than ever before – and this isn’t just referring to Amazon.com. The rise of additional review platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Groupon, and G2 Crowd, have led to more informed buying decisions across a variety of industries.

Customers rely on honest, transparent reviews before pulling the trigger on purchasing a product or selecting a service. As a matter of fact, 93 percent of consumers stated they read reviews at some point along the buying process – with 35 percent saying the presence of online reviews is an absolute must before engaging with a brand.

It’s time for marketers to respect the power of customer advocates, and put those positive reviews and hard-earned testimonials to the forefront for other potential customers to see. Lucky for you, we compiled a list of ways to promote your customer testimonials.

1. Feature them on your website

This may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses aren’t displaying customer testimonials on their websites.

There are a number of ways to do this, but perhaps the most common way is by using the reviewer’s picture (if applicable) and pulling a compelling quote from their testimonial.

Here’s an example of a simple review of Hubspot CRM, a piece of software used to manage customer relationships.

Varun’s review is everything you should look for when pulling testimonials. He thoroughly explains how the CRM software tracks his daily productivity, helps him understand business-crucial data, and is easily accessible on mobile.

While that is an example of a G2 Crowd review, there are also easy ways to embed customer reviews from places such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp directly onto your website. This how-to article from Broadly does a great job of showing step-by-step how to embed a Facebook review into your website or blog.

For B2C or e-retail reviews on a website like Amazon, the user should be able to explain what drove them to purchase the product and what they enjoy most about it. For example, words like “durable,” “high-quality,” and “long-lasting” are testimonial-worthy descriptions.

Bonus points for what we refer to as a “verified review,” also known as reviews that are proven to be authentic and from a real user of the mentioned product or service. Verified reviews are a great way to filter out spam or fake reviews – reassuring potential customers.

While verified reviews are specific to G2 Crowd, other review sites have similar measures. It can be as simple as having a photo and social network attached to the review.

Certain review websites have a stronger commitment to authenticity and weeding out the bad reviews. Sticking to the more reputable review sites will help with overall trust.

2. Design a testimonial page

Want to get even more creative with your customer testimonials? Instead of simply featuring them on your website, you can dedicate an entire webpage to testimonials.

Post Planner decided to leverage multiple testimonials and paired them with interactive graphics on a single webpage. Toward the bottom of the page, Post Planner also showed the influence of their product on different social networks.

A testimonial page allows for further exposure of your product or service. While building these pages obviously requires some time, resources, and attention to detail, it could serve as a great reference for potential customers.

3. Utilize case studies

Looking to take those customer testimonials to the next level? Let me introduce you to the power of case studies.

While case studies are typically considered “further-down-the-funnel” types of content, they’re great at getting those on-the-fence prospects across the line.

The benefit of writing a case study is that you’re able to get into the nitty-gritty of how exactly you went above-and-beyond to help your client succeed.

Feel free to share any relevant metrics in your case study. For example, Hootsuite conducted a case study on how its product integration helped Georgia State University boost online engagement by 216 percent.

The combination of relevant metrics and customer testimonials shows potential customers two things: The value of your product or service, and how helpful your company is at nurturing a relationship.

Hint: Before writing a case study, it’s important to make sure your customers are on board with you using their name, title, and testimonial. You want to keep your advocates informed the whole way through. Plus, they may be willing to provide extra quotes and data to add even more detail to your case study.

4. On your Facebook cover photo

A Facebook cover photo, really? Actually, plastering a powerful customer testimonial on your company’s Facebook cover photo is one of the more unique strategies we’ve seen at G2 Crowd.

Fiverr, a digital hub for freelancers, once highlighted a user by using both their testimonial and photo on its Facebook cover.

What’s the benefit of replicating Fiverr’s strategy? Well, the cover photo is one of the first things a customer will see when visiting your social media profile – which 62 percent of consumers do to get more information about a local business.

Now customers don’t have to go fishing for testimonials; you put one right in front of their faces. By putting your users at the forefront, it also helps humanize your brand.

5. In your email signature

This may not be the most conventional approach, but showcasing a few customer testimonials and linking to them (if applicable) in your email signature can be a neat way to boost your brand.

In this case, performance artist Dave Ruch leveraged testimonials from a few industry professionals to establish his own credibility. He also made sure to link to his professional social networks for further engagement.

If you’re contracting, consulting, or self-employed, then promoting testimonials in your email signature is especially effective. Just be sure to get permission to use people’s names and titles!

6. Through social media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whichever you prefer. Social media is an incredibly powerful avenue for promoting your brand, so why not use it to promote your customer testimonials?

Try not to get too distracted by how great these muffins look, and focus on how Vitamix quoted a satisfied customer in their Instagram caption. Also, take note of the use of hashtags throughout the post.  Utilizing hashtags helps establish brand recognition, and enables your post to reach wider audiences.

In the case of Instagram marketing, pairing high-quality photos with testimonials might be all it takes to convert potential customers.

7. Video testimonials are powerful

The purpose of promoting customer testimonials is to ultimately convince other customers to convert, right? Well, one of the leading ways to convert customers is through video content placed on landing pages – an 86 percent increase compared to text-based testimonials!

Now we understand that video testimonials aren’t doable for everyone. But for those with the resources to do so, video is a seriously powerful form of content.

Some best practices regarding video content:

  • Keep it short! These testimonials should be no longer than one minute.
  • High-quality videos (with clear audio) are optimal.
  • These testimonials shouldn’t autoplay. This could actually inhibit the user experience of potential customers.

8. Write a blog post

A great alternative to video content is writing a long-form blog post around a customer story and their testimonial.

The example above from ReadyForZero guides the reader through Valerie’s hardship facing $40,000 of credit card debt. It’s a story that a variety of readers can relate to, and it’s a headline that prompts an emotional response.

The blog eventually leads to how Valerie discovered a debt-relief solution through ReadyForZero, and it did so in a way that wasn’t overly reminiscent of a sales-pitch.” Your solution, whatever it may be, should come across as customer-centric.

9. Feature them in-person

Videos, blogs, and social media are highly effective ways to promote customer testimonials, but let’s not underestimate the power of promoting them in-person.

SAP, an enterprise software corporation, took a unique route to acquire and promote customer testimonials in-person. The photo above shows a neat video booth they set up at a recent conference.

Since video booths are a costly investment, you can easily slap customer testimonials on your conference booth itself. Have a G2 Crowd badge or a Yelp sticker from garnering great customer reviews? Might as well show that off too! 

You earned them, now promote them!

Acquiring positive customer reviews is one thing, but turning those reviews into powerful testimonials is the work of a savvy marketer.

Be actionable, and always look for unique and effective ways to promote your customer testimonials. Customers are constantly researching and educating themselves, so it’s important to utilize those who advocate for your product or service.


Devin Pickell is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 Crowd, generating content for its Learning Hub. He has experience marketing for early-stage startups out of Chicago’s booming tech community. You can follow him on Twitter at @Devin_Pickell and on LinkedIn.

customer service scenarios

Customer Service Roleplaying Scenarios

Want to improve your business’s customer responsiveness? Learning about possible customer service scenarios is a great way to prepare for any future customer issues. It’s always good to anticipate issues and train employees to handle potential situations at-hand. Companies who do customer service right are able to appease unhappy customers and maybe even win their business back.

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Benefits of Good Customer Service

Not only will your customers enjoy a better experience, but improving your customer service can also benefit your bottom line. The people who have already spent money with you are essentially the lifeblood of your organization. Did you know that repeat customers continuously spend more money with you the longer you keep their business? A Harvard Business School study showed that customers spent an average of 40% more money on their sixth purchase than their first, and an average of 80% more on their eighth. Keeping customers happy and coming back is crucial to creating loyalists and staying profitable.

What Are Customer Service Scenarios?

A customer service scenario is a situation that could involve an upset customer. That means looking at all of your processes and identifying some moments (maybe some that have happened in the past) that could cause some hiccups. In this article, we will not only give some examples of these customer service scenarios, plus solutions and tips, but we will also give you some scenarios your team can practice dong role-play.

Customer Service Scenario Examples

3 Difficult Customer Service Scenario Examples & Solutions

These are some of the most common situations that can happen, plus how to fix them. Are you ready to become amazing at customer service?

Customer Service Scenario 1: Angry customer

An angry customer is something just about every seasoned business owner has witnessed. Since most small businesses don’t typically have dedicated customer service reps, the person needing to know these customer management skills should also participate in the role-playing scenarios we’ll cover later.

So, you’ve got an angry customer—perhaps you’re communicating over the phone or through your website live chat. In any case, the best thing to remember when you have an angry customer negatively addressing you is one simple acronym: HEARD. The HEARD technique goes like this:

H: Hear – Let your customer know they are being heard. Be patient, and don’t cut them off.

E: Empathize – Having empathy in business pays off in all relationships—practice understanding and compassion when listening to your customer’s grievances.

A: Apologize – Even if you were not at fault, after empathizing with the customer, you should be able to sincerely apologize. Nobody likes being inconvenienced; you should understand that. It’s like replying to a negative review IRL. (Pro tip: there are reputation management tools to help with angry customers online.)

R: Resolve – Come to some sort of common ground with the customer. Ask how you can help. Find a way to make things right—whether this means you give them a discount on future purchases or a free product.

D: Diagnose. After the issue has been resolved and both parties are amicable, get to the bottom of the issue. Who or what really caused this to happen? This way, both you and the customer benefit from new information that can help it from happening again.

Ensuring that everyone who deals with customers on a daily basis follows this checklist can greatly improve your reputation. The last thing you’d want is an angry customer taking to Twitter to rant about their horrible experience with your business—resolve the problem before that can ever happen.

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Customer Service Scenario 2: Unable to answer a customer’s question

This is never a good feeling, and it most often happens to new employees. If this happens, even if you don’t know the answer, you should try to find it. You can usually use problem-solving skills to answer the question. If you truly don’t know the answer, inform the customer that this is the first time it’s come up, then proceed to ask for the time needed to find the answer. Many times, a good default is to report the question to a higher level of management or simply ask. Remind new employees of these tactics during onboarding, and hopefully, you won’t run into this problem too often.

Angry Customer Scenario

Customer Service Scenario 3: Crisis Mode

A crisis can strike any company at any time. You often don’t see them coming; that’s why crises can be so damaging. However, if you and your staff are equipped to handle a crisis when it comes your way, you will be much better off. What kind of crises are we talking about? Well, one example in today’s digital age is security breaches. Scammers are becoming trickier with their techniques, making it very hard to even know you’re giving away sensitive information to a thief.

Thus, it’s best to train everyone on proper crisis management, especially when it comes to speaking with customers. The people who have invested in you will be upset. You want to keep their business, so, you…

  • Apologize. Even if a crisis is not directly your fault, apologize. Whatever did happen caused harm to your customers, and you should want to genuinely apologize for that.
  • Communicate. Keep everyone updated. Whether that means issuing press releases, posting on Facebook, or sending emails to your list, keep your customers in the loop on the steps you’re making to amend the crisis and ensure it never happens again. It is important to keep the communication open if you want to win back your customers’ trust.

Crises are never simple, cut-and-dry experiences, but they can be handled well if you stay honest and stick to these tips.

Customer Service Role Play Scenarios

Customer Service Role Play Scenarios

If you really want to excel at customer service, we recommend role-playing a few common customer service scenarios with your team. Basic role-play means one person will act as the customer and the other will act as the employee handling the situation. It can be fun if you’ve got some creative staff members!

Below are some examples of customer service role-play scenarios, just fill them in with scenarios that can or have happened at your business to make them relevant to your team.

  • A customer has come to speak to a member of staff to make a complaint. They are threatening to get you to shut down. Your objective is to resolve the issue with minimum reputation and financial damage to the company. What do you do? (Inspired by this example)
  • Someone slipped and hurt his or her self in your place of business. What is the wrong thing to do in this situation? The right thing?
  • A begrudged former employee is bad-mouthing your company online with all kinds of negative fake reviews and untrue stories. How do you get him or her to stop without elevating the issue further?
  • Your employee accidentally deleted your entire database, including personal customer information. Customers are not happy and refuse to give you their information again. What’s your first move?
  • Someone wants a refund but it’s unwarranted. They’re trying to bully you into giving them their money back for no real cause. What do you say to him/her?
  • A thief broke into your office last night and stole most of the electronics. What’s the first thing you do? The second?
  • Two employees are having a disagreement. There are customers all around and curse words are being said. As the manager, how do you resolve the issue without scaring off customers?
  • A customer is trying to use an expired offer or coupon. It’s for a very large purchase. They insist that they should be allowed to use it. Do you let them use the expired coupon?

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Customer Service Tips to Keep in Mind

Lastly, when in doubt, remember the golden rules of good customer service. Here are some customer service tips to keep in your back pocket when you’re having a hard time with a customer.

  • Be patient and a good listener
  • Practice empathy
  • Be adaptable; sometimes situations can change
  • Stay knowledgeable of your product or service
  • Have a can-do attitude
  • Develop a thick skin

Conclusion

As you can imagine, dealing with customers is not always easy. But understanding how important customer service and training employees on correct customer service procedures can greatly help your reputation in the community. At the end of the day, think about what it’s like when you’re the upset customer. You don’t enjoy it either, do you? With patience, empathy, and a problem-solving mindset, your customer service can go from average to stellar. Now, just wait until you see the results of happier customers.

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Examples of Dealing With Difficult Customers

No matter where you fall on the chain of command, it is likely you will have to deal with a difficult customer situation. If these tough situations make you feel uncomfortable, not to worry. We have a list of tips to help turn those difficult conversations into loyal customers.

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Tips For Dealing With Difficult Customers

Take A Step Back & Apologize

Apologizing is very important. If you are able to take a breath and think through a series of deliberate steps, you may be able to “de-escalate” things. The key is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Rather than viewing the scenario as a personal attack, see the bigger picture of how you are dealing with a customer whose needs have not been met.

Always apologize and be willing to put their needs first, even if you don’t always agree with their opinion. If the customer is upset, they deserve an apology. It may be possible that you have a potential solution you can offer but it all starts with letting the customer know you are sorry first and let them know that you empathize with their situation.

Leaving Things On A Better Note

When ending a conversation with a customer, don’t forget to ask if there is anything else you can be of help with. The customer may have been so focused on one particular issue or problem that they forgot about a second problem they also wanted to bring to your attention.

Asking to solve more problems is an easy way to remind the customer of any other problems, which will save both your teams’ and the customer’s time.

Show gratitude; despite any problems, the customer may have had and the stress you might be feeling, try to demonstrate that you appreciate their business. You may be surprised at the subtle way this can aid in winding down a situation. Don’t forget that they chose your business over the other options available to them!

Here are some examples of common customer service scenarios you may encounter in your business, and how to get moving back in the right direction for both you and your customer.

Difficult Customer Service Scenarios

Difficult Customer Service Scenarios

Impatient Customer

Scenario:

A customer who feels they have been waiting too long for their product or service. Sometimes, circumstances arise that means a customer is waiting longer than usual. How do you handle those who get particularly upset about it?

Tips:

The first thing is to apologize. Next, explain as best as you can the reason behind the wait, and let the customer know that you are working on resolving the issue.

Another important tip is to use positive language. Instead of an apology like “our supplier is out of stock, there’s nothing we can do,” something like “we’re working with our supplier to get that back in stock as soon as we can”find the silver lining in a bad situation.

Explain the reason behind the wait, and let the customer know that you are working on resolving the issue as fast as you can. You can go an extra step and ask the customer to leave their contact info so someone can follow up with them when things are ready.

Indecisive/Quiet Customer

Scenario:

You have a customer who is close to purchasing but they seem very unsure about which option they should choose.

Tips:

Try to get them to verbalize their concerns. Are they worried about price? Maybe they are trying to figure out how a service visit will fit into their schedule. Once you can get them talking, you can better refine which options will work best for them overall.

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Vague Customer

Scenario:

A customer feels like they know what they want, but seems to have difficulty expressing it.

Tips:

This customer scenario puts an extra burden on you and your customer service representatives to gain more information about their needs. Think about what details you and your team need to know in order to better be of service.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A statement like “sorry, but we just need a few more details to work on your request” could be a good opener. Follow it with a specific list of questions.

why customers leave businesses

Customer Is Unhappy With Service

Scenario:

Sometimes, a customer is simply not pleased with what they’ve been given. Complaints will happen.

Tips:

Apologizing is again the first step to take (whether it seems like their complaint is justified or not). Attempt to resolve any specific issues within a limited time frame, balancing their complaint against your time and the needs of your other customers. Try to find a way to offer a solution. If you can’t, you may be able to offer a discount to keep them as a customer.

You Don’t Have An Answer

Scenario:

Perhaps a unique or unusual situation has arisen, and you do not have an immediate answer for the customer about how to proceed. Simply saying that you don’t know won’t cut it.

Tips:

The correct way to handle it is to let the customer know that you are going to research the options available and get back to them as soon as you can. It is important to follow through and truly respond in a timely manner. Even if time has passed and you still don’t have an answer yet, you can still send a quick message to your customer to let them know that you are still working on a solution.

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You Made A Mistake

Scenario:

It happens sometimes. Everyone makes mistakes, but it can be especially embarrassing in a professional setting.

Tips:

Put ego aside, and honestly evaluate the situation, as objectively as possible. Apologize, and let them know that you acknowledge an error was made.

Being truthful is important in a case like this. Let your customer know that you are working to fix the mistake, and how long it will likely take to be resolved. Show empathy to the customer, and let them know that you would be frustrated too if you were in their place.

difficult customers on the phoneThe “Their Way Or The Highway” (Demanding Customer)

Scenario:

Unlike a vague customer, occasionally you may encounter a customer who feels they know what they want so well, they refuse to hear about any alternatives (even if there are options that might actually work better for them). They appear to be set in their ways.

Tips:

Be respectful of their wishes, and appreciate the fact that they’ve put some time into thinking things over. Politely let the customer know there are other choices available. After that, let them decide how they want to go forward. The most important thing in a situation like this is to be an available source of information. The final choice still rests with the customer.

You Need To Transfer/Refer The Customer To Someone Else

Scenario:

The customer has an issue that is outside your area of expertise, but you think you know who can take care of their problem for them. How do you transfer or refer them to that other person without making the customer feel like they are being brushed off or ignored?

Tips:

The response is to externalize a sense of confidence that you can pass on to them. Instead of a deflated-sounding line like “I’m not sure, let me go ask someone else,” use positive language like “we have a team member who is great at solving problems like these; let me refer you to them.” Whenever possible, fill in your colleague about the details of the customer’s problem, so there is a limited amount of repetition on the customer’s part. They will appreciate you saving them the time and trouble of explaining their issue all over again.

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The Customer Requests Something That Can’t Be Fulfilled

Scenario:

In most cases, it is good policy to go the “extra mile” and give something to the customer that they request, even if it is out of the ordinary rulebook procedure. Sometimes, though, it simply isn’t possible. For example, the customer leaves a feedback message asking for an additional service that upper management have no immediate plans to add. Or perhaps the customer asks for an extension on a payment deadline that is set in stone. These are just some examples of a few awkward scenarios where a customer service representative may feel like their hands are tied.

Tips:

You have to find a way to gently turn the customer down. Tell them the truth of the matter as best as possible as to why their request cannot be fulfilled. If you can, offer some kind of compromise solution if one appears to be available. Maybe the customer is asking for a discount when no promotions are currently running. Perhaps none are available now, but you can let the customer give you their contact info and you can follow up with them when a discount becomes available for them to use.

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The Customer Is Overdue on a Payment

Scenario:

It’s been a little while since payment was due and you haven’t heard anything from the customer.

Tips:

Before sending things off to a collections department or outside collections agency, take the opportunity to follow-up one last time by phone or email (or both). Unless there are outside circumstances to show otherwise, a lack of payment could just be an honest mistake or simple forgetfulness on the part of the customer. Having that extra communication shows you care about the customer and aren’t simply looking for another payday.

The Customer Wants A Full Refund

Scenario:

You have tried other means of attempting to remedy a customer’s issue and they still demand a refund.

Tips:

The best course of action usually is to provide a refund. It can be a distressing situation to be in as a businessperson, but you should be prepared for it. Apologize to the customer, let them know you are placing a refund request, and let them know how long it should take before they see the money back in their account.

talkive angry customer

Overly Talkative Customer

Scenario:

This is a unique situation in that the customer might not be upset with your product or service. In fact, they might love it. The problem is they seem to have struck up a conversation with a customer service representative, and they don’t seem to plan on ending it any time soon.

Not every business might find this a problem. Zappos, the online shoe retailer noted for going above and beyond with their customer service philosophy, boasted once having a 10-hour phone conversation between a representative and a customer. They see it as a badge of honor and a sign of how loyal their customers are. You might not have the spare resources and staff to allow for something like that, however. How do you politely turn them away?

Tips:

One option is to shift the conversation to email. Let the customer know that the customer service representative they’ve been speaking to is needed elsewhere, but ask them for their contact info. The customer service representative can then follow-up with them at a later time. You may even be able to leverage the customer into leaving a testimonial or positive review for your business.

Very Angry Customer

Scenario:

When a customer is extremely angry, it can be the most difficult customer to work with because emotions are so high. At times, a customer is just so upset, there is no way to immediately respond.

Tips:

The key here is to listen. Any answer at this point may just be seen as an excuse, especially if this is an ongoing problem. Give the customer a chance to vent their frustration, and as mentioned above, try not to take it personally.

Apologize, as always. Let them know you understand that they are aggravated and frustrated. You must accept some responsibility for the way they are feeling, as a representative of your business or product. Don’t get caught in the wave of anger. Speak slowly and calmly; do not raise your voice. If possible, immediately begin work on some kind of solution and let them know you are making it a priority.

Conclusion

These are some examples of how to deal with difficult customers. If you need help our Broadly customer review software to get feedback from customers before they become a difficult problem. Following a plan of action like the ones we outlined can help you handle the rough situations you may find yourself in. Good luck!