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Introduction to Customer Personas
When you think of your customer, what do they look like?
What are their attitudes and behaviours?
What needs do they have, and how do your products and services meet (or not meet) those needs?
These are the kinds of questions that customer personas can help you answer.
What are customer personas?
A definition of a customer persona is a semi-fictional character, based upon qualitative and quantitative research, representing a group of customers who may use your products, services, or engage and experience your brand in a similar way.
Creating customer personas help you understand who your customers really are.
When segmenting your customer base, you may start with broader categories; personas then help you get past the generalities and think more deeply about the specific needs and behaviours of that group.
When creating a persona, we develop an in-depth profile of a customer that may include a name, age, backstory, location, needs, goals, behaviours, attitudes, pain points, technology uses, photos, quotes…
… there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the inclusions in your customer personas (sorry!).
You will need to consider what the team and organisation are trying to achieve by creating customer personas, and then adjust the base template (ACXPA members can download a free customer personas template).
How many and how do you create a customer persona?
Most organisations have between 3 and 8 personas (like above though, there are no hard-and-fast rules).
To create high-quality personas that will provide insight and guidance to your organisation, you will need to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques.
This may include interviews and focus groups, observation sessions, web analytics, data from CRM and other systems, social listening, and relevant third-party data.
Don’t forget to leverage the knowledge residing within the employees of your organisation (particularly customer-facing teams).
In my experiences, customer personas have been created as a key component of a customer journey mapping project, or as an artefact to help guide and encourage customer centricity for a strategic project within an organisation.
Customer needs and expectations are changing, and personas will similarly evolve over time – sometimes just small edits, sometimes needing a more significant time and effort investment.
There may sometimes be a need to add a new persona, or to retire a persona.
Personas can only be effective if they are accurate and up to date.
I would recommend at least looking critically at your personas on an annual basis, or when there are significant changes to your customers, your organisation, or your environment.
What are customer personas used for?
Personas are used by teams and organisations to better understand their customers on a deeper level, and can assist in designing better products, services, and experiences that meet their needs.
Personas help create a focal point for individuals and teams to come together and align them around one or more customers when designing better products, services, and experiences (in the absence of personas, individuals may instead tend to design to serve themselves).
You can “level up” the alignment of individuals and teams by involving people from right across the organisation in the creation of your customer personas.
Want to learn more about Customer Personas?
I recorded a Podcast with ACXPA CEO Justin Tippett to titled Introduction to Customer Personas that you can watch or listen to below. Conversation points include:
- What are Customer Personas?
- How to create customer personas
- How COVID has changed customer personas
- Example of a customer persona
- How many customer personas should you have?
- How often should personas be refreshed?
- My top tips!
Let’s start a conversation!
For those who are new to CX, what questions do you have about customer personas?
For those experienced CX practitioners, what are your top tips for creating, maintaining, and using customer personas?
Comment below or head over to our private group for CX Professionals to share ideas, insights and examples.