In this blog, we share how using Customer Personas, during the service design process, gives companies a creative tool to help imagine what customers need and will value. This facilitates service design from the point of view of the target customer who will actually be using it, making it far easier to produce something that is fit for purpose.
What are Customer Personas?
Customer personas are not the same as customer segments, although they can be informed by them. It is helpful to use methods and tools to enable a company to empathise with, and put themselves in the shoes of their customers. This means that new propositions and experiences for customers can be designed with them in mind.
Thinking differently helps organisations get and stay ahead. Many companies have segments they think are personas – the problem is segments and personas are often used interchangeably, and whilst they are both useful tools, they serve a different purpose. Segments are typically demographic based, whereas personas are attitudinal and so cut across segments. Personas are far more useful for depicting the diverse needs, attitudes, behaviours, and expectations of their customers - which is great if you need to develop products or services, whereas segments are more suitable for marketing purposes.
Is customer feedback data enough to inform future product development?
Many companies also have data about how customers currently use their services and what they think of them. However, this data offers little insight to help them design or consider what the service may need to be for those customers; it only provides insight to the service as it is and tends to lack insight into why the service doesn’t meet customer needs. This will not help envision future services or highlight how new technologies and insights can be transformed into services people will want to buy, and love to use.
Why do companies need Customer Personas for service design?
If customer feedback data isn't enough to inform the design of future products and services, what tools can businesses use to ensure they get it right? One solution in the service designers toolkit, is the Customer Persona.
Customer Personas are based on research and data, but they are a design tool rather than purely the outcome of the research. They are created for service design, rather than marketing purposes, and have various benefits:
- They are a tool for innovation:
Customer Personas are a tool for outside-in thinking. Starting with a customer point of view rather than with existing services and operations enables companies to address problems and solutions from a different perspective - the customer perspective. It makes them more forward-thinking, helps find new solutions to old problems, and differentiates them from the competition.
- They are essential for defining customer needs:
As personas provide a more tangible idea of target customers’ needs, they can help in making and defending design and investment decisions, for example: Organisations often miss what customer NEEDS are, personas help to map these out accurately.
- They can help employees provide better customer service:
Personas can be used in employee training to help them empathise and understand the diverse needs of the customers they deal with.
- They span socio-demographic groups:
Customer personas describe needs, attitudes, and behaviours rather than socio-demographic clusters.
- Different personas can be applied to the same people over time:
Real customers do not fit the same persona all the time. Although their fundamental beliefs and values may not change over time, their needs and expectations can. This could depend on situation, age or other variables.
For example, a person may use an airport as a business traveller at one time and for vacation travel another. They will have different needs and expectations depending on the circumstances. This is essential for companies who need to adapt and evolve to changing customer behaviour.
Personas can be used to re-evaluate customer experience:
using different sets of needs and expectations can help with assessing customer experience more fully and realistically. They can help fix problems and show how underserved and unmet customer needs can be targeted with new features and experiences.
The key information required for creating Customer Personas
- A defined scope of who the service is being designed for. - An understanding of the breadth of customer circumstances, needs, and attitudes. - Any information about existing company customer personas or segments.
Creating Customer Personas
As personas are collections of customer attributes, it is important to first identify the relevant needs, attitudes, and circumstances that relate to the service in question. Attributes may be related to variables, such as price sensitivity, or qualitative factors like areas of interest. It is useful if attributes are more extreme, as designing for extremes enables you to meet the needs of the majority.
Once the relevant attributes have been determined, the key ones among them can be determined. These are the ones that are likely to have the greatest effect on the service experience, or perceptions of it. These attributes can be used to define the set of personas.
Key attributes should be bundled together in believable ways and ideally each key attribute would only appear on one persona. It is a good idea to limit the number of customer personas to around four to eight.
Ultimately, Customer Personas give companies a creative tool to help imagine what their customers need and will value. What's more, building new products and services from the customer perspective, makes it far easier to produce something that appeals to customers, and drives the commercial results your business needs to survive and thrive.
If you would like access to an example of Personas, hit the link below to check out our Pandemic Personas pack.
Now you’ve understood Customer Personas, click here to read the next blog in this 5-part series, where we explain what Customer Journey Mapping is and the key information you’ll need to create a customer journey map.
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