We write a lot about what it takes for companies to deliver exceptional customer experiences. We advocate for robust training that is relevant and ongoing, for seamlessly integrating omni-channel services, for monitoring important KPIs, and, of course, for knowing who your customers are and their expectations when interacting with your self-service features and/or contact center agents. Many companies, when surveyed, agree with these priorities, yet few actually know who their customers are, much less what they expect. Customers are consistently saying that they would be willing to pay more for a better experience (86 percent in a CEI survey), yet only one percent feel that their expectations are met.
Clearly companies need to catch up to where their customers are if they hope to be around in the long run! Before any company can deliver great customer service, they must first be very clear about who their customers are and what their customers expect. Of course the company’s objectives are part of the equation, but if the objectives aren’t balanced with customer expectations, then both parties will be disappointed. When companies take the time to understand the demographics of their customers then all the other important components of delivering exceptional customer experiences can be realized.
It’s easy to think of “customers” as a homogenous group. When general terms such as “customer experience,” “customer journey,” “customer profile,” etc. are used it’s easy to see how “customer” just becomes a faceless, person-less entity. One way to get around this, and to get a more nuanced sense of who your customers are so you can create journeys that deliver them to where they want to go, is by creating customer personas. Developing customer personas brings the customer to life. Tony Zambito, a leading expert on customer/buyer insights, puts it best: “Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.” Pared down into even simpler terms, customer personas are fictional representations of your customers using real data that is reflective and indicative of their behaviors.
If at this point you’re wondering why go through the trouble of creating customer personas because it seems like a lot of work, let’s just say that if your company doesn’t have an accurate idea of who is spending their money with you, then don’t be surprised if they decide to spend it with your competitor. Basically, you can’t begin to map a customer journey without first knowing a little something about your customer. There is little doubt that creating buyer personas can be very helpful to a number of departments within an organization. Marketing needs an accurate picture of the customer so that appropriate messages can be crafted. Contact center agents need an accurate picture of the customer so they can better respond to the customer’s needs. R & D teams need an accurate picture of the customer so they can create products for which there is demand. Keep in mind that there are many templates/on-line tool kits for helping your organization create personas, but be mindful of the adage “garbage in, garbage out.” The data your referring to when creating personas should be based on qualitative and quantitative research. Let’s look at some criteria for creating accurate buyer/customer personas based on Tony Zambito’s experience.
- Buyer personas should be based on qualitative research that is sourced directly from your customers/buyers.
- Customer personas should be based on real people, not on who your company thinks the customer is.
- Customer personas should reflect the buying behaviors and goals of the customer.
Creating customer personas can be a valuable tool when developing marketing plans and creating training programs for employees. When a customer goes from a generic entity to an identifiable person, even as a fictional representation, better customer experiences can be created and delivered. As more customers demand personalized attention and are willing to “break up” with companies that don’t provide the experiences they are looking for, now would be a good time to assess how well your organization knows its most important asset—the customer!
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Creating Customer Personas To Better Understand The Customer Journey
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