This article is a summary of a whitepaper by Bao Do and Daniel Lambert with the same title.
The use of personas has been a maturing customer-centric methodology in marketing, but under utilized elsewhere. Yet, the use of personas throughout customer digital journeys from beginning to end is now possible using the discipline of business architecture. Corporations that want to become customer-driven enterprises have several types of clients (or personas), and none of them should experience the exact same customer journey when interfacing with any part of its organization, not just in marketing. With the increasing pace at which disruptive technologies are being adopted by their customers, it is becoming imperative that corporations find dynamic ways to accompany their customers throughout their journey.
Customer experience: not just marketing
As pointed out in this article entitled "7 Steps to Deliver Better Customer Experiences," many executives seem "to think that designing and managing the customer experience is a marketing function, as if the customer is only associated with marketing," and that customer journey does not involve operations. These executives seem happy to maintain silos between marketing and operations. Yet, as mentioned in this article entitled "A Step-by-Step Plan to Improve CMO-COO Collaboration," "customer journeys today are a complex series of interactions across multiple channels and platforms, where each point of contact has the potential to encourage the sale or derail it entirely. Coordinating the infrastructure, technology, and messaging in a way that appears seamless and fluid to the customer is, to be blunt, a logistical nightmare" that involves not only marketing but also operation and IT. Within an organization, strategically harmonizing various business capabilities can optimize value streams for specific personas to insure seamless and satisfactory outcomes throughout their customer journey.
Before exploring the Persona concept, let's explore customer experience with a simple customer journey map, as shown in Diagram 1 in the whitepaper describing the engagement stages to acquire a product. Each of these stages should involve the operation and IT side of an organization, not just marketing. All customer journey stages need the operations involvement in a customer driven enterprise. Once a customer has purchased a product, he will need at one point of its customer journey to discover, learn and possibly commit to other ones. IT needs to understand these trigger points where it is appropriate to engage in these stages.
These customer journey stages will be different for each persona, who will experience different thoughts, feelings and satisfaction needs. These concepts are common to marketers. They also need to be used by the IT side of an organization in a customer driven enterprise.
The customer's thinking, feeling and satisfaction based on the organization's specific set of capabilities for each persona will be either satisfactory or not. If the result is dissatisfaction, the organization must ask itself how to adjust its investments to mature its set of capabilities using appropriate value streams.
Personas represent customers and as Wikipedia's defines UX Personas, "are fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. (...) Personas are useful in considering the goals, desires, and limitations of brand buyers and users to help to guide decisions about a service, product or interaction space such as features, interactions, and visual design of a website." Personas are used for designing more intuitive software, to increase the user-friendliness in industrial design and more recently for online interaction and transactions purposes. This design process includes Design Thinking and Lean User Experience. This design process is iterative. Continuous design delivery for rapid prototyping will be required to keep the specific set of capabilities optimized for each persona using appropriate value streams.
As shown in Diagram 3 in the whitepaper, a user persona is a representation of the goals and behavior of a group of users. In most cases, personas are synthesized from data collected from interviews. For each product, more than one Persona is usually created, but one persona should always be the primary focus for the design. With personas, organizations will understand better what their products are really providing to their customers.
Business architecture and customer strategy
Business architecture is an excellent way to ensure that customer journeys for all your key personas are implemented successfully everywhere throughout your organizations. Business architecture allows the following:
- Concentrate on the most strategic customer journeys that matters the most,
- Work together on a roadmap planning and delivery for each of these customer journeys by enhancing and creating capabilities tailored for each persona's behavior,
- Build a structure for collaboration within your organization by making available to all relevant stakeholders your business architecture model, and
- See each customer journey all the way through with appropriate measurement methods using value streams/capabilities.
Value streams and enabling business capabilities
Customer-facing value streams are the best kept secret among the business architect's arsenals. Not enough business architects use them. Yet, it is an ideal method to transform your business to a customer driven enterprise and provide customer lifetime value. Diagram 8 in the whitepaper shows, for example, the "Acquire a Customer for a Service" value stream/capabilities for a customer in a bank.
This value stream requires five value stages. Each value stage is enabled by five or six capabilities. Each value stage and relevant capabilities can be measured in several ways, using performance heat map, custom KPIs, etc. From this perspective, you can then move much more smoothly from initiative planning to initiative delivery by linking the appropriate detailed processes to the relevant value stage(s), detailed assets and requirements to the relevant capability(ies), etc.
In brief, the increasing pace of digital disruption is forcing all organizations to move from points of customer sales to points of customer experience. Enterprises must mature their business capabilities around the dynamic customer experience. The use of Business architecture in combination with personas throughout a customer journey is an excellent method for modern organizations to keep up with this pace of disruption everywhere in the organization. From value stream to technology solution to process models, business capability mappings are becoming a vital mechanism to transform businesses into a customer driven enterprise that provides lifetime value to customers.