Monday, March 14, 2011

Using Personas to Improve the Customer Experience

This is a subject that's near and dear to my heart, one that I cannot advocate enough. Here, the topic is being presented by Joan Lasselle, of Lasselle-Ramsay.

What's next in improving customer experience? How do we know what direction to take? A technique to help you make tactical decisions about what's next with your content.

Who is the customer? In today's market, customer never been more diverse and demanding. In 90s, customer experience driven from enterprise out. Now, customer experience with finding information richer & easier on the consumer side. So many people have consumer devices. That experience is driving expectation into the enterprise. How do we go from vague understanding of customer to solid idea of a set of eyes.

Metrics can be helpful, but they are abstract. Often, even technical communicators don't know the customer as well as we'd like to think. We have to understand who users are and how they do their job to make them successful in their job.

Satisfied customers buy more, buy again, tell others. You measure success with customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers will spend time with you, will give you data to make better decisions. Don't need customers in the middle, but raving or angry, to tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

What is a persona? A composite. Personas are created from composite, from ethnographic and qualitative research. Interview 6-8 people to build persona. Included a of of behavioral data. Contains behavioral model, what motivates them to do their job, what obstacles they face in their job. Do task analysis, find what it takes to develop competency in a job.

To get 360 degree view, need to go beyond who customers are. What motivates them? What gets them up in the morning? How do they work? What do they do? What problems do they solve? Where and when do they perform tasks?

4 steps: define scope, conduct research, analyze findings, build personas.

To define scope, determine research questions, identify the target audience, determine the research approach, and build the research tools.

Determining research questions often left out. You can't do it all. Need to confer with stakeholders, find what they want to know about their customers. Doing this also gets buy-in from other areas of the organization.

Research approaches include surveys, focus groups, and more, but a useful one is a structured interview. Group questions so they align around research goals, structure the interview. Want open-ended questions, but not too open-ended. Make it more conversational. Write questions so you have a control. Richness comes form probing questions. Reflective listening is a good method to use. And limit it to an hour. Record it with a timestamp to make it easy to review.

Three things in data analysis. Profile characteristics are the rich understanding of the person. User stories tell what they do. Profile components includes demographic description, goals, needs, and anxieties, learning approaches, problem-solving approaches, motivation, personality, technical profile, and responsibilities. User stories include not only what users need to do, but why. Scenarios can be base don user stories, reflect goals and organizes tasks that reflect proficiencies, and are based in reality (a day in the life).

If you're building information that people can't get to, are you really providing a service? That's why you need to know how people work, how they do what they do, what limitations they have.

Create one-page snapshot. Give an easy-to-use name, face, voice. Not the entire report, but what would be used routinely for development. Instead of writing an administrator guide, you're writing for Dave.

Think of help not as a system, but as a service. One idea, how to make search more prominent. What happens when your site knows about your user, knows what products they have purchased, and your search can key on that knowledge. Know something about the user, build up information about the user, and use that to make them more successful. Can be richer base of information.

Use cases contain a detailed description of a process, an interaction between users and information.

Some pitfalls include not targeting the study, not target your audience, not communicating the personas, and not updating periodically. The last is probably the most important. Updating your personas should be part of your regular development process.

You can't connect with customers if you don't know who they are. Personas are powerful tools to define your customer's content requirements. Personas help you answer the "right content, right format, right time" question, should be the starting point, not the ending point, of your content strategy.

1 comment:

  1. This is the concept that always confuses me. What is the main benefit of improving customer experience ? Is it really necessary for every business to work on it ? Are there any tools available that will measure customer experience ?
    improve customer experience