What’s a persona and how do we create one? Mel Johnson from our BGL Tech team tells all…
What’s best for the customer? As a Senior Business Analyst with over 20 years’ experience, one of the main challenges I’ve observed is that, too often, this question is overlooked. While the answer may at first seem obvious, more often than not, it’s not explored in enough depth.
So what is a persona?
Personas are fictional, generalised characters. They’re based on consumer research and help to represent different user groups (e.g. customers, audiences etc.) that might use your product or service. A persona creates an identity to represent a type of person, underpinned by real data collected from multiple sources and individuals. Personas are also known as model characters, or composite characters.
Why use personas?
Personas are usually created at the early stages of a project, as it helps to create a common understanding of the target audience and provide insight into that consumer group. A persona will therefore help shape design and development to ensure the end product is fit for the customer and each of their needs.
How to create a persona
Personas should be realistic. Some personas can be created on the perception of a customers’ needs, rather than in-depth research and data across every touch point. I recently found myself acting as a product owner for a regulatory and financial project and it was extremely useful to focus the personas towards these elements of the customer.
So how do we create a persona? How do we get a better understanding of the customer and how can we optimise this knowledge to develop enhanced solutions for our customers that meets their needs, takes their financial situations into consideration and complies with a company’s regulations?
We can start by answering the 5 W’s. This is a technique used by journalists to ensure they capture all the important details: Who? When? Where? What? Why?
This sounds like an easy thing to do, but is harder to implement. What often happens is that, initially, a more vague stereotype is created. An example of this could be:
Our typical customer is earning below average wage, works in the evenings/part time, is married or has a partner and young children.
This persona provides very top-line information about the customer and doesn’t tell us much about their financial situation. It doesn't provide enough insight for you, as a Business Analyst, to understand the customer’s financial needs.
So what should be included in a persona?
- A fabricated descriptive name (optional photo or caricature)
- Demographic information, e.g. age, gender, marital status, location etc.
- Lifestyle or work factors
- Level of education/income/work
- Financial circumstances
- Experience with the product
Therefore, in this example, a more useful persona would be:
Jean is a married mother of two in her early 40’s. She works in the evenings when her husband has finished his driving job. Jean lives a very busy lifestyle and when not looking after the kids, she manages the household finances and sometimes forgets, and struggles, to pay the monthly bills. When this happens, Jean incurs additional fees and charges. More recently, her husband’s shifts have reduced, and therefore so has the household income.
This persona gives a better insight into the customer’s financial situation and needs.
Once you’ve defined a persona, this can then be applied to the project or programme of work as an insight into the customer profile from any perspective. This gives insight into the customer’s financial circumstances and helps with considerations from a regulatory perspective.