In June, I posted a blog about how customer journey mapping has come a long way since its roots. And while customer journey maps have certainly evolved and become more detailed in recent years, customer personas don't appear to have advanced at nearly the same pace.Customer personas are typically developed as representations of different customer types based on a number of characteristics, including their behaviors, their motivations, how they purchase, etc. So while the development of customer personas is important for customer journey mapping since different customer types will display different behaviors, many companies fail to achieve a granular level of detail for each persona, says Apparao Karri, co-founder and CEO of Cintell, a customer intelligence platform provider.
Another problem is that many companies often develop more personas than they truly need. For instance, Karri points to one B2B client that had developed 15 personas for a single product. Cintell refined this to four personas and developed tailored content strategies for each one.
Another mistake a lot of companies make is attempting to develop customer personas in-house without the necessary skill sets. Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Experience Officer and founder at Chief Customer, LLC, recommends the use of third-party firms that utilize behaviorists and other experts such as ethnographers who are adept at understanding the customer experience needs and requirements of specific customer sets.
As Cintell CMO Katie Martell points out, "Personas are like snowflakes: they're unique for every company." Depending on the industry they're in, companies often have thousands of customers, each of whom have unique characteristics. And while it isn't feasible to tailor experiences for each individual customer, the more that companies know about the needs and desires of their customers, the better positioned they'll be to deliver on customer expectations.