Customer Persona- Guide to creating a delightful customer experience for the new age hyper-connected audience.

customer persona- Meltwater

We all know the ultimate goal of every business is to sell but in the new age business methodology the word ‘sell’ has been replaced by the phrase ‘solve a problem’. Keeping this in mind, businesses have now become a solution powerhouse. But how do we identify these challenges? The answer is simple- by knowing your customer inside out. So let’s look at a methodology to understand your target audience by creating personas especially for the new age hyper connected consumer.

Buyer Persona Defined

Customer/buyer personas are a fictitious representation of real people that your business would like to service. Businesses can have multiple personas depending on the nature, size and offerings. For e.g. for an e-commerce clothing retailer, a persona can be created for millennials and another for baby boomers and if required it can be broken down into millennials in their teens and millennials in late twenties. A valuable tip is to ensure that the characteristics of these personas do not overlap. A business can start with 2-3 personas but can expand as and when new trend patterns are noticed within clients and prospects or when new service offerings or products are launched.

Importance of personas

The digital world has given rise to new channels such as apps and e-commerce websites through which people are easily serviced by a click of a few buttons. This has changed the way consumers shop therefore, businesses need to adapt and change the way they sell or rather how they create value for these ‘on-the-go’ shoppers. Classifying and segmenting according to the various buyer personas can dramatically improve business results by providing relevant and personalized solutions. They can help in:

  • Defining your overall marketing and nurturing strategy for the various segments.
  • Syncing your content calendar for each type of segment
  • Finding appropriate and relevant influencers to attract each persona
  • Identifying the right of channels and timings for communication with different personas.
  • Designing the right pitch for prospects forming the base of a sales strategy
  • Personalizing and customizing which is attractive for the on-demand consumer.

Steps to creating a buyer persona:

Market surveys and interviews have been the traditional way of creating buyer personas. They cannot be ignored but the hyper connected customer is complex, expressive and collaborative therefore, we need more than just the traditional ways to understand them.

  1. Leveraging online listening:

The hyper connected and collaborative consumer communicates on several different platforms for completing various errands. For e.g. for entertainment they might engage on Facebook, for lodging a complaint they might look to forums or Twitter, for professional engagement to LinkedIn and for expressing views on topics towards blogging. These avenues offer heaps of raw data therefore listening to these Outside Insights can help derive valuable information. Media monitoring tools can help you understand the topics of conversation, tonality, lifestyle- hobbies/aspirations, network and groups your audience interacts with, what they read, their personal and professional goals, their needs and wants, challenges they face at work or at home, demographics and other trends and intelligence that you are meaning to derive to create a specific persona. By identifying common traits one can make assumptions and judgment of these personas that help identify where the product offering would fit in their professional or personal life which in turn helps in determining the sales strategy and value pitch.

  1. Don’t be afraid to connect & engage

Leverage the digital communities to talk to your audience. Just like listening, engagement is important when it comes to knowing your audience. Similar to interviews, these can be used to interact with your audience through various platforms. Engagement solutions such as mEngage allow you to manage all social platforms under one roof along with tagging features that can help in segmenting by personas.

  1. Analyze the competition

Online media monitoring can unveil important information regarding your competitors. By studying the negative and positive experiences of your competitor’s customers, you can learn more about your audience especially if you are a new or budding business. This will also help in deciding the USP and in eventually standing out against your competitor.

  1. Analyze existing customers and prospects

Analyzing the existing database that consumes the content and services for common traits and trends. Engaging with this audience can help understanding their needs and additionally in building a relationship. A key tip- the new age customers like being heard.

  1. Consider negative personas

You know what you want, but don’t forget what you don’t want. This can be rather crucial and help save resources. It is important to identify and negate this audience from your sales and marketing funnel for e.g. students or low budget start-ups.

  1. In person interviews

The traditional process cannot be ignored especially when the persona is a Gen X member. If the persona is reachable, personal interaction can play a strategic role in building relationships and in defining customer profiles.

  1. Include sales and customer service team in the process

As these teams have maximum interaction with the clients and prospects, their insights cannot be ignored. Take their help in identifying the characteristics of your personas and help them in designing a value proposition best suited for these personas.

By following these tips and steps businesses can understand their customers and implement targeted and relevant business strategies within the organization. Satisfying and delighting the customer is no more the responsibility of one department but rather a goal of all employees. By sharing the buyer personas across all levels in the organization, one can align all departments to work collaboratively to achieve the mission of delighting customers.

10 Questions with Mitu Samar

Welcome to our series of ’10 Questions with’ some of the most eminent thought leaders within the Marketing, Communications & PR industry. We have Mitu Samar, Founder of a boutique firm ‘Eminence’- A Reputation Advisor, Executive Presence Coach & Media Trainer and guest speaker at our free upcoming webinar on Customer Orientation: A Must for Building Brands. 

  1. Tell us about yourself

Mitu Samar I am still unearthing myself.

I have worked with leading corporates in areas of brand positioning and enhancement for over 15 years. I often wondered- what am I without my designation in a certain company, what’s brand Mitu Samar and how far can my personal reputation take me. That triggered the entrepreneurial plunge about two and a half years back and Eminence- a reputation management company, came into being.

2. Can you share some learnings from your pre entrepreneurial days?

My biggest learning from being on the other side of the table days was to look at solutions from the clients’ perspective. We might believe that our product/ service is the best but we have to demonstrate to the clients ‘what is in it for them’.

3. What was the gap in the market that you wanted to fill with Eminence?

In the corporate setup, teams interact with stakeholders continuously. These interactions invariably result in organizations reputation building. If the teams do not act cohesively or end up working in silos they end up damaging the organisational reputation.Eminence steps in to bridge the gap between the Organization and its stakeholders.

For instance, Customer engagement and loyalty is the responsibility of the Customer Service Team. Can the team ensure customer satisfaction, without the support of the operations team? Or human resources team? Or even without the financial team? Eminence identifies these gaps and offers customized solutions.

4. How does Eminence help brands and people?

At the core of our offering lies reputation management.

  • For corporates we offer strategic consulting to implementing stakeholder engagement strategy.
  • For start-ups & SME’s, we create and manage brand visibility.
  • For people, leadership coaching and developing their personal brand.

5. What are the key elements and activities essential for building a reputable brand image?

Reputable brand image is a planned outcome of sustained and cohesive effort starting from the management team and percolating down to the entire organization. Some essential elements for this include:

  • Creating consistent but differentiated visibility
  • Creating authenticity through multiple stakeholder engagement
  • Including customers and employees in the stakeholder value chain
  • Sharing the responsibility of customer engagement across the entire organization.
  • Leveraging the power of word of mouth publicity and customer recommendation to influence purchase.

6. What is the role of customers in brand building?

Customers are the soul of any business. Unless businesses make themselves customer centric, they become unviable. As an entrepreneur, one may be brimming with passion but if the customers are unhappy and reject the product, neither passion nor processes yield viable results. Whatever be the scale of an organization, customers are the most important link in the stakeholder value chain.

7. What excites you most professionally and personally?

We are a boutique firm with direct client interface in most cases. My favorite professional moment is when our leadership coachees write back telling us how we have been able to influence their lives. It makes everything we do seem worthwhile.

On a more personal note, time spent with my family, accomplishments of my children and the touch of pride on my father’s face are my eternal drivers.

8. Most interesting project you have worked on?

Amongst the many exciting opportunities, my favorite would be the Customer Delight Enhancement Project for a leading insurance company in India. It involved measuring the outcome through Net Promoter Score (NPS). What made the project unique was the commitment of the company towards its customers, the willingness to accept recommendations across customer journey; be it improving processes, reducing paperwork, identifying training needs or strengthening technological support.

9. Your favourite thing to do outside of work?

I enjoy meeting new people, one of the many benefits of entrepreneurship. It’s interesting to see life from different perspectives. I welcome opportunities to interact with people informally.

10. What is your favourite book and why?

I believe books are great influencers. One book that had the great impact on me is ‘The Secret’. It might sound cliché but this book transformed me into a happier individual and that in turn helps me be a better professional.

To know more on how companies can leverage customers as brand ambassadors to build and popularize their brand. Register for our free online webinar with Mitu Samar.