Published on November 7, 2023 by Mitali Dua
Customer personas are made-up characters with distinct attributes that represent the customers of any business. Personas can be defined by studying real-time customer data and insights to understand customer needs and requirements. Companies could also reach their prospective customers by developing a detailed understanding of their wants, needs and behaviours.
The approach to creating personas differs from B2B to B2C.
A B2B customer persona primarily represents the interests of a company; however, it is also crucial to analyse individual stakeholders, as they may have different motivations. For example, a product development manager would seek to deliver the best-quality product while the implementation team would prefer an efficient and secure onboarding process. When pitching to a prospective buyer, a company needs buy-in from different departments, such as IT, Product, Marketing and Finance. Preparing separate personas for each would help understand their pain points and how to solve them. A B2B persona typically includes educational background, designation, role in the organisation (strategic, tactical or resourceful), KPIs, goals related to job performance and pain points.
B2C customer personas focus primarily on the needs, interests, goals and challenges of the end customer. Along with practical aspects, it is important to consider emotions, as most B2C purchases are impulsive. It would also be helpful to understand behavioural patterns such as online vs offline interaction, the preferred communication channel, motivations and concerns.
Personas help customer experience (CX) teams improve customer focus, as they get a better understanding of customer goals, expectations, preferences, motivations and pain points and can accordingly develop strategies to align their products, services, teams and interactions. Persona mapping can be conducted as part of a CX programme across the business lifecycle, helping build strategies such as for acquisition planning, product development, marketing and renewals. For example, understanding each customer persona gives direction to the marketing department in terms of targeting the right customer and optimising its marketing strategy.
CX programmes that surpassed senior executives’ expectations were almost twice as likely to have customer persona development initiatives in place for more than three years, according to Gartner
Mistakes to avoid when creating customer personas
Since a well-developed customer persona can improve a company’s functions and customer-oriented actions, it is important to avoid making mistakes such as the following when creating them:
Developing personas around ideal buyers instead of actual buyers:Personas should be viewed as representing real buyers and, hence, should be based on actual customer data, including behavioural data.
Relying only on demographic information:Personas should encapsulate a diverse set of information and not just basic demographic information such as age, location, education and income. They should include information on goals, motivations and pain points.
Creating several personas: This blurs the focus and direction of the company’s effort. A limited number of personas, on the other hand, would drive the company in the right direction.
Basing personas on old data: Personas should be based specifically on new customer data, ensuring they capture information on current customers and channel the company’s efforts in the right direction.
Not updating personas: Owing to changing market scenarios and business dynamics, it is important to update personas regularly to align them with business goals and current customers and their needs. This ensures the company’s CX efforts are effective and produce the desired results.
Creating personas based on assumptions: Instead of creating customer personas based on assumptions, they should be built solely on customer data, customer behaviour and demographic data gathered from interviewing customers, as well as existing customer data in possession of the company.
Not creating a negative persona: It is also important to create personas outside of a company's target demographics, so as to identify anyone who is not a good fit for a product or service and could be a potential drain on resources.
Role of customer personas in enhancing CX
A CX-focused customer persona includes information beyond demographics and from a customer’s point of view. It provides a wider view of the customer’s life, including expectations and pain points. It helps map the customer journey and enhance customer experience across the customer lifecycle.
Accurately developed customer personas play a pivotal role in delivering impeccable customer experience. However, 79% of companies struggle to use customer personas to effectively support CX efforts, according to Gartner. Therefore, it is essential to know the ways in which personas can help companies deliver seamless CX:
CX KPI and goal setting: Customer personas can be leveraged for CX evaluation. Companies can measure and monitor the level at which their CX programmes meet customer needs and their impact on financial results. They could decide on key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics in line with customers' goals, needs and expectations and then track these metrics via customer feedback and data.
Employee alignment:Customer personas also help companies provide their employees with a better understanding of customer expectations, enabling them to deliver better CX.
CX decision making: Customer personas guide companies in CX design, decisions and actions. They could leverage personas to map customer journeys, identify the touchpoints and channels for interacting with customers and define the experience they plan to deliver at every step. Personas could also be leveraged to build user stories, scenarios and use cases to demonstrate use of products/services and the ability of the products to address customer pain points and meet their needs. Additionally, personas could be used to design and test prototypes, wireframes and mockups reflecting customer requirements.
Enhanced customer satisfaction: Using customer personas helps companies enhance customer satisfaction by enabling them to offer customers more personalised, relevant and engaging CX across the customer lifecycle. Personas enable brands to understand their customers’ needs and behaviours better, providing an opportunity to customise their products and services. It also helps companies segment and target their customers based on the personas, enabling them to send them personalised messages and offers.
Well-developed customer personas would strengthen a company's CX initiatives, and the starting point of its CX journey would, therefore, need to involve developing accurate personas, taking into account the nature of its business, end customers and desired outcomes.
How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help
We have been providing customer experience research and insight support to stakeholders in the B2B and B2C space for over two decades. We comprehend the needs of companies and customers. Equipped with a 360-degree view, we understand how customer data can be captured and analysed and how the results can be leveraged to deliver a seamless customer experience and achieve better business outcomes. We help Fortune 500 technology corporations, mid-tier companies and startups leverage customer feedback on people, products and processes to remain flexible and better serve their customers.
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About the Author
A seasoned professional with 10 years of experience in consulting, strategy, and research. She has a rich experience in financial, technology, and government sectors and is adept at handling end-to-end projects including building strategy, project implementation, and client communication. She has worked on wide range of projects including market analysis, competitive intelligence, industry study, benchmarking study, strategy building.
Before joining Acuity, she has worked with Deloitte, KPMG, and Accenture. She holds a PGDM from MDI Gurgaon and a Masters in European Business from ESCP Europe.
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