It is therefore important to ensure a good mix of participants in these internal workshops: All relevant departments – i.e. of course sales, marketing, service – should be represented, but also supposedly “customer-unrelated” departments such as accounting, production or IT. Hierarchy should rather not play a role.
Read more about the design topics here: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2019/11/newspapers-teach-web-design/
What is important, however, is to be able to think “customer” and to be prepared to engage in the change of perspective associated with the method. And even more importantly, be pragmatic and work with what is available rather than being held back by any gaps that may have been identified. Personas are “living documents” that can and should be developed further as a tool as the knowledge gained increases.
Input is what is available and helps to understand the customer’s perspective
Creating a user persona is basically comparable to the process of defining target groups in marketing. The following questions, which should be very familiar to business people, will help you:
Who is the ideal user?
What problems do these users face and how do they solve them now?
Which objectives and needs are important for these users?
Are there important demographic factors that need to be considered? (A few examples: Are the users working mothers with rather low income or are they typically childless top earners? Are they employed or self-employed? Do they work alone or in teams? What types are they?)
What motivates the users to use your product? So what does your product need to do best?
When and where do the users use your product? (For example, in the evening on the sofa because it’s an entertainment app or under time pressure in the city centre because it’s a taxi booking app? Both scenarios suggest different designs).
Here, the question must be answered as to what the customer looks like and what features distinguish him:
What is his age?
What professional group does he belong to?
Where does he come from?
Which company does he work for and what does his typical working day look like?
What are the persona’s priorities (low budget or premium customer)?
Which values are relevant for them (e.g. ecology / fair trade)?
Especially customers in the B2B sector should be given much attention: What are the biggest challenges in the job, what can cause frustration and with which specific products and services can they be solved again? Is it someone who works under instructions (employees, staff) or who has decision-making powers (management)?
At the end of the process, a fairly clear picture of the potential user emerges, the user persona. Now you break this idea down to a concrete character, give the persona a name and a job title, such as “Maria, the stressed accountant” and record the findings in writing. Each user persona gets a kind of profile that helps you not to lose focus.
Internal data and information
Internal data and information is first and foremost all the knowledge that your own employees have about customers, with and without direct customer contact:
What is said to customer service in daily contact? How do sales representatives experience the typical target persons in action?
Which problems escalate regularly?
Which actions create positive feedback?
In addition, it makes perfect sense to use data from your own CRM system, findings from surveys and the continuous evaluation of customer feedback. This is often quite sufficient.
Information gathering and consumption of the persona:
The next step is to analyze how the persona obtains information: Which channels are used to obtain information and at what time of day does the process usually take place? Which devices are used (PC/laptop, tablet or smartphone)? Which social networks are used and do word-of-mouth and/or recommendations influence the purchase decision?
Create meaningful personas: How do you get sound data?
In order to learn more about the needs, motivations and buying behaviour of potential customers, there are various methods that can be used, which we will briefly introduce here.
External data in all its available diversity can be used to further develop developed personas. This can be market data from the Federal Statistical Office, own target group analyses or market descriptions or statistical analyses of customer behaviour and so on.
It is important to leave the aggregated, descriptive perspective of the “external observer” and to transfer relevant insights into the customer perspective.
If there are data gaps or uncertainties about the hypotheses, it is essential to validate the results with real customers (see the section “The pitfalls?”).
Personas describe exemplary specific, typical customers in order to understand needs on an individual level and use them for effective marketing. This methodology can also be applied in B2B business relationships – and is perhaps even more effective there.
If we like to think in anonymous roles in B2B and especially in so-called “buying centers”, it is hidden that these roles are of course also filled by people.
On the one hand, it is absolutely necessary to understand needs, expectations and behaviour patterns at the level of the different roles in the company and also to differentiate between them. For this purpose personas can be developed which describe the different roles in a business relationship on an aggregated level: Specialist experts, purchasing, technology, decision makers and so on.
And these role personas can then be further differentiated in order to describe and understand different personas within individual roles – now again on an individual customer level.
As a result, the requirements of the relevant roles can be effectively addressed within a multi-stage quotation process. At the same time, the understanding is anchored that individual roles are also typically but by no means homogeneously staffed.