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The customer and/or client of any business is the foundation that keeps that business in existence. The business must have a purpose that lies outside of itself to solve the pain points their potential customers have. Identifying and working towards alleviating these pain points is how we create value for those potential customers.

To best serve your potential customers, you need to know who your customers are. This means you need to shift the organization’s focus outside-in (on the customer), as it should be, rather than inside-out. By doing this, you are focusing on how the customer sees the problem. You are now able to put the experience in the customer’s perspective and make you think about the customer as a “real human” that you can empathize with. 

Personas help everyone understand who the customer is and details about the customer’s needs. This will prevent biases from coming out and keep people from forming their own opinions about who the customer really is – everyone is on the same page. In addition, when you develop empathy for the customer you can bring the customer to life. This will drive engagement and ongoing understanding of the customer, especially since they need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. 

In the Design Thinking process, designers will often start creating personas during the second phase, the Define phase. In the Define phase, Design Thinkers synthesize their research and findings from the very first phase, the Empathize phase. This allows them to get to know their customers and feel their pain, as well as formulate solutions.

It is important to point out that personas are fictional characters based upon your research that are intended to represent the different people who might find value in your products, services, and other offerings. Creating personas will help you to understand your customers’ needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals from their perspective. They help you realize that different people have different needs and expectations. And as it happens, there are four identified types of persona perspectives as identified by Interaction Design.

The first is the goal-directed persona. This persona focuses on “what does my typical user want to do with my offering?” The objective of goal-directed personas is to examine the process and workflow that your customer would prefer to use when interacting with your product or service. There is the expectation that you have done enough customer research to know that your product has value to them. 

The second type of persona is the role-based persona. The role-based perspective is also goal-directed and is focused on behavior. The personas of the role-based perspectives are very data-driven and incorporate both qualitative and quantitative data. It focuses on the customer role within an organization and how a product or service design fulfills a need in the customer’s organization or in their wider life.

The third perspective is the engaging persona. The engaging persona may incorporate both the goal and role directed personas. These engaging personas are designed that when developing customer solutions, you can relate to them better.  The idea is to create a three-dimensional rendering of the customer. The more your team interacts with the persona, the more they can see the wants, needs, and desires of your customer. Engaging personas rely heavily on the stories the customers tell.

The final perspective is the fictional persona which is not the result of research but rather from the experience of your team. It requires you to make assumptions based on past interactions with customers to provide better options to them in the future.

Personas allow you to better know your potential and repeat customers are in their home environments. Take the time to get to know your customers and thrive.