Continuing our two-part series on segment personas, we now look at how to create and use them.

Our newest guest blogger, Amy Scott, returns to talk us through how she creates personas. After sharing her 3-step creation process, she reveals how she uses personas to improve customer journeys.

I hope you’ll agree that we have already been reminded what a useful tool segment personas can be. Done well, they are a key weapon in the customer insight armoury, to help win the war to achieve more customer-centric organisations. Not least because of how they can capture people’s imaginations.

Over to Amy to share more from her experience of bringing key segments to life within organisations and for their customers…

Creating a persona in 3 stages

Whenever I’m working on creating personas, I go through a three-stage process.

Stage 1 (knowledge elicitation)

I review an organisation’s existing research especially their voice of the customer research to understand what customers are currently saying about their experiences and interactions with an organisation.

I also spend time with frontline staff (retail staff, contact centre staff and field engineers) as they are a good proxy for the customer since they are dealing with them on a daily basis. They have a deep understanding of the different types of customers they deal with, what their expectations are, how they behave and the causes of these behaviours.

Stage 2 (ethnographic research)

I undertake ethnographic research conducting qualitative research because what customers say they do and what they actually do are often not the same thing. This research could include some of the following methods:

  • observing customers in store, at home or in a business setting;
  • one-to-one face-to-face interviews;
  • focus groups;
  • call listening;
  • online diaries;
  • persona immersions;
  • telephone interviews.

Equipped with this knowledge and insight I create an initial draft persona taking into account all the information I have gathered in both stages.

Stage 3 (quantiative testing)

I test my draft persona by undertaking some quantitative research with those customers matching the persona profile to either validate or refute the draft developed. You need to get about 50+ responses for each persona you have designed.

Then I use the outputs from the research to further refine the personas. This helps to build confidence within the business that the proposed personas are solid and are a strong basis on which to build customer journeys and lifecycles.

How Personas impact customer journeys

Strong and robust personas are the first critical step in creating improved customer experiences. Personas are the building blocks on which customer journeys are developed.

The best customer journeys are created by meeting the needs for specific personas. Otherwise, these journeys risk being too generic and not really meeting anybody’s needs or expectations well.

So, here are just a few examples of how the same journey would differ depending on the persona they are designed for:

Getting help with my mobile phone settings is very different for someone who is:

  • 19 and is brought up with technology and are digitally-savvy
  • 75 and isn’t that comfortable with technology and fears they may do something wrong

Booking a holiday is very different for someone going on:

  • A honeymoon who wants the trip to be as special, romantic, & magical as possible
  • A family holiday where the key concerns are available facilities to entertain their children, because if my children are happy, I’m happy

Buying a private health care procedure, the motivations for doing this would be very different for:

  • A working person who needs to get treatment scheduled around their business commitments
  • A retiree who needs to get their treatment done more quickly than on the NHS, to improve their quality of life

In a business- to-business environment you may want to look at your personas by:

  • Size of business
  • Market position
  • Seniority of contact
  • New or existing customer
  • Job role – Decision maker/buyer or user of goods/services

Final thoughts on personas and their relevance

In conclusion, having robust personas are of even greater importance today because customer journeys are getting increasingly more complex and spanning an ever-increasing number of touchpoints.

By truly understanding the customers you are designing for, you can create better experiences, products and services that will truly engage them and meet their emotional needs.

Many thanks to Amy for sharing this series with us. I look forward to reading your comments & hearing your experience with using personas.