Importance of Getting Customer Personas Right

“Actionable buyer personas reveal insights about your buyers’ decisions — the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor or the status quo.” – Adele Revella

It is important to get customer personas right. However, why it is so critical requires some explaining. To start with, customer personas are built around real buyers – and provide information on what prospective customers could be thinking and the actions they take when understanding the resolutions provided by a company for their problems. These ‘personas’ or profiles are not one dimensional and neither would they be straightforward descriptions of customers. When created properly, customer personas would provide value added insights into buying decisions, attitudes, concerns, and reasons that would be the driving factors for customers to choose one company over another. A simple profiling exercise will not produce results or provide the information required. Getting customer personas right is about clarity on why customers would want to do business with your company.

Why are customer personas so necessary? The simple answer is ROI. The better buyers are able to evaluate a company’s offerings aligned with their terms, the higher would their trust and faith levels be in a company – something that becomes an unbeatable factor. Such detailed personas provide immense value and benefit to any company. Everyone in the company would gain a better and deeper understanding of what each one should do in order to fulfil their customer’s needs. Through an in-depth understanding, the company would be able to develop more customized products aimed at achieving the desired results – that of fulfilling customer needs and expectations. Depending on urgency and importance, a company would be able to prioritize its time and resources, diverting them to projects and initiatives that would benefit a large set of customers and personas. Internally too, the company would follow a structured approach to meet the needs of their customers, and making it a company-wide exercise would ensure alignment and support from all in the company.

Getting customer personas right is about using data-driven research – based on qualitative and quantitative hard data gathered from a variety of sources. This would mean the information would be free of opinions, assumptions, and guesswork. Customer feedback surveys form a critical part in getting customer personas right since they would contain views and opinions directly from customers, and hence no room for ambiguity and doubt. A company would then be in a better position to formulate strategies that align with the goals, values, and alleviate pain areas for their customers, which in turn would create a relationship and encourage engagement. When a company is able to get customer personas right, they can prove to be indispensable tools to garner customer support and put the company on the fast track to success. In addition, another way to gain vital customer information for accurate customer personas, is listening to them via social media. Customers are extremely vocal and definitive when expressing their views via social media – they do not hold back praise or criticism, which means that companies can get unadulterated information regarding what customers expect, their problems, and what companies can do to get their attention.

Some companies however fail at getting customer personas right, and find themselves stuck with a useless and meaningless collection of information that would contain far too many details to make sense. There is something as too much detail and in the case of building customer personas, this can prove to be more harmful than good. To begin with interviewing customers, researching, and gathering information is time consuming, and companies find that they do not have sufficient time to actually sift and use this information. In a hurry to put something together, companies often end up with broad and generic customer personas, which often prove to be useless for the company. Not only are these personas of no use, they distract companies from useful information and insights that could help them and their customers.

Too much information that does not help a company to take accurate and swift decisions ends up confusing and complicating the entire process of decision-making. This indecisiveness can in turn prove to be an obstacle, making a company seem inefficient, and lacking in confidence. As companies seem stuck in a loop of useless information, the danger of slipping into guesswork and random assessments becomes very real. Many companies fall into this trap and end up with poorly done customer personas, which could negatively affect the marketing decisions of the company. Such badly created persons leave the company with misleading information and false criteria, which could do more harm than good to the company’s efforts of building relationships with their customers.

Getting customer personas right is about ensuring that despite grouping customers based on certain broad information, a company is able to ensure that it sees each customer as an individual. This is essential since customers are different – their personality, qualities, values, beliefs, and needs all differ, and it would be detrimental to put customers together in groups simply because their needs and attributes ‘sound’ similar. For customer personas to be accurate and effective, a company must avoid stereotyping and be as specific as possible. The focus must remain on what truly matters to the customers. The idea is to gain as much as possible from the information a company is able to gather, and use the information to put together options and solutions that would be most helpful and effective for customers.

Post the process of information gathering, a company would discover that some of the data would be invaluable and highly useful, while some would be useless in preparing customer personas. A company must be adept at sifting the data to draw out the most effective and value-added portions, ensuring that it is able to create specific and more accurate customer personas on which it can focus its energy and resources. It is important for a company to ask the most appropriate questions such that the answers it receives are specific, detailed, but not overly generalized. The information must help the company to create better messages, content, and strategies to get its communiqués out to customers in the most efficient manner, ensuring that they are relevant to the customer groups. Customers value their privacy, and hence a company must ensure that the kind of information it seeks, and the questions it asks must not seem like a violation of the space and privacy of customers, or it could end up annoying customer enough to leave.

Getting customer personas accurate would be easier to do if companies viewed solutions and strategies from the point of view of customers. It would be necessary to remain empathetic and focused on the needs of the customers, understand what they expect, why they would or would not buy, and what specific pain areas customers would want addressed immediately. Companies must be adept at learning to differentiate between valuable insights and information, as opposed to information that could be removed easily. The idea is to create customer personas with the most relevant, value-added, and actionable details possible if they are to remain useful for a company. Without a clear understanding and breaking down of the customer base into personas, a company could find it hard to keep its existing customer base happy, and could risk losing several customers.

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree