Developing Customer Personas

Whether they are Customer Personas or Buyer Personas these have a valuable role to play in either ensuring a company maintains its focus on its customers’ needs, or in helping a company become more customer focused. You will often hear people talk about ‘putting themselves in the customers’ shoes,’ well Personas are a key tool in enabling that. When you combine this need with the increasing use of Customer Journey Mapping, and common occurrence of having extensive customer data, Personas are a tool that will deliver real benefits.

So what is a Customer Persona and how could we develop them for our customer base? The purpose of Personas is to create reliable and realistic representations of your most significant customer groups to help employees recognise these groups and so improve their customer experience. They typically are based upon a combination of qualitative and quantitative research plus statistical analysis, and should be representative of a customer group as a whole, not an individual customer you may have in mind!


Effective Personas

Effective Personas are most valuable when:
1. They are easy to understand
2. Represent a major customer group
3. Clearly identify the key needs and expectations of these important customer groups
4. Have a degree of consistency in terms of level of detail and format
5. Uncover both requirements that are applicable to all customers and those that will be of particular significance to key customer groups
6. Describe people in a way that others can relate to, such as their backgrounds, goals, lifestyle, and values
7. The characteristics of Personas need to be memorable, come alive, and stand out from each other. The danger is to create too many and so colleagues either forget some Personas, or they get confused on the subtle differences between them and they become blurred.
8. There is a clear objective for these Personas. For example, they are focused on an online experience, or they are focused on marketing communications, or perhaps complaints management. The greater the focus the more targeted the characteristics of the Persona can be, and therefore the greater value they can provide.
Increasingly clients are combining the development of Personas with the development of Customer Journey Maps. This can be a bit of a ‘chicken & egg’ situation – it’s not clear whether it’s more effective to develop the Persona first and then the journey map, or vice versa; both routes have their advantages.


What is in a Persona?

Although the focus and level of detail will vary depending upon the purpose and use of the Persona, valuable contents would include:

1. Persona Group (e.g. which customer group)
2. Fictional name and picture (helps employees relate to and remember the Persona)
3. Job titles and major responsibilities
4. Demographics such as age, education, ethnicity, and family status
5. Their needs from the service that is being provided. This could cover a physical product, an experience, and the price
6. Their familiarity with your service e.g. new user, regular user, infrequent etc
7. Their physical, social, and technological environment may be relevant
A useful rule of thumb is that if the Persona information can be gathered in a simple template factsheet, that allows quick understanding and comparison across each Persona, then you can be reassured that you have achieved the desired simplicity.

Below is an example Persona developed for a transportation company:

Example persona for article


 Take the next step

If you would like to discuss the development and use of Customer or Buyer Personas please get in touch.

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