Why Are Customer Personas Relevant?
With a competitive landscape so fierce, knowing who your customer is and how best to deliver quality service to them has become more important than ever. It is one thing to know customer’s ages, income brackets, gender and ethnicities but another thing completely to know them in “real life” – what makes them mad, what excites them and what actually triggers them to connect with your brand. It is impossible to personally know each customer in such detail which is why creating customer personas AND profiles enable companies to “know” who they are connecting with by providing the meaningful insights and relevant understanding into typical customers.
What Actually Is A Customer Persona?
To begin, one must differentiate between a ‘customer profile’ and a ‘customer persona’. A customer profile refers to the facts and basic details of a person, i.e. demographical information. It is who your customer is on paper. Whereas a customer persona brings these facts and details to life – it creates a fictitious description and representation of an ideal customer in real life.
What Value Does A Customer Persona Add?
As a company, we can easily get sucked into the day-to-day requirements, tasks and deliveries. We are focussed on the processes to follow, the deadlines to meet and the targets to reach and as a result, we tend to lose touch with who are customers REALLY are. We forget that the person buying our product or service is actually a real person with needs, wants, quirks and habits. Customer personas are a reminder of this and become a starting point for our employees and departments to “think like a customer”. It helps challenge the thinking of “this is what we think our customers want…” and guides us in creating solutions for “if this is the kind of person they are, this could help make their lives better…” Providing our teams with this kind of knowledge allows them to not only think creatively but also challenge what is currently being done.
What Does A Customer Persona Involve?
In order to create comprehensive and insightful personas, you will need to do some kind of research into your existing customer base. This may involve looking into data you already have, referring back to research that has already been done or completely starting fresh and conducting a research project including qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
You will first need to construct your basic profiles of who your customers are. Basic customer profiles will require information such as: age, income, gender, ethnicity, region, type of product/service they frequently consume etc. With both profiles and personas, it is advisable not to have more than five. This is because the more profiles and more personas you have, the harder it is to try connect with all of them sufficiently. That being said, you are able to have core profiles on which you focus on and then additional ‘niche’ or secondary profiles and personas to be mindful of.
The profiles then help recruit the kind of people to engage further with. Being able to reach these specific people, you are able to then dig a little deeper into these profiles to find out the ‘juicy bits’. This is where the fun starts as here you are able to fully customise the content to meet the needs of your company. You are able to decide the kind of characteristics and details you would like included so you are better able to relate to this person in YOUR working environment. To gain this information, you are looking at the qualitative side of the research. Here you would typically conduct focus groups, interviews, immersions, shop-a-longs to name a few.
Customer personas can be presented in a multitude of formats. It is suggested that it is made available to the relevant members of your team in a format that looks appealing and is easy to understand and use.