Personas: A Lifestyle Change for a Healthier CX

By Jane-Anne Mennella | March 17, 2017 | 2 Comments

It occurred to me last night that, if Customer Experience was a human body, personas would be healthy eating. Just like we know we should have and need personas, we all know we should and need to eat healthy. But both can be hard to do and, like the debate I had with myself last night, we wonder if the effort is worth it.

My Healthy Eating vs. Girl Scout Cookies Debate

You see, last night I was tired and hungry, and right away I started craving junk food. Girl Scout cookies, to be exact – we had just had a delivery and the boxes waited, unopened in our pantry, begging to be devoured. As I thought of them and their oh-so-minty-goodness, my internal debate started:

Bad Me: “The cookies are right here, so easy to eat. Making a healthy meal requires time and effort and you are tired. “

Good Me: “But I know better. I’ll eat these and be hungry later and then I’ll be even more tired.”

Bad Me: “Eating these little pieces of sugary delight will give you energy!”

Good Me: “But that energy will be short lived and then you will crash and be even more cranky and tired. Plus think of all of the extra calories.”

Bad Me: “So what, you can work them off tomorrow, just exercise harder. Plus think of all of the Girl Scouts. Do you want them to think you don’t like their cookies?”

I decided to eat only two cookies (Girl Scout’s honor!) and make something healthy. But while my dinner was cooking, I began to think about Personas (who doesn’t think about Personas in their off moments?!) and I want them to be as universally liked as Girl Scout cookies. But – if I’m being honest – they’re not, and I began to wonder why. I have a lot of discussions with clients who know they need to do personas, but there seems to be a reticence to actually doing them. That’s when it occurred to me: Personas are the healthy eating of your Customer Experience body.

You have a lot to do at work. You ‘re tasked with showing results faster than ever and we’re telling you to put time and resources into an activity that does not offer quick, let alone instant, returns or gratification.  We advise you to lose weight the healthy way:  1-2 lbs a week versus going on crash diet. You know personas are the right, and better, way to go for the overall health and longevity of your CX program, but creating them takes effort, resources and discipline. And thus begins your own healthy eating vs. quick-fix, easy-but-not-as-good-for-you food debate.

Your Personas Debate

  • Like eating healthy, starting personas can be confusing:  “What’s the difference between macro and  regular calories?”/ “What’s the difference between personas and segments?” (subscribers only)
  • Like healthy eating, personas take preparation and planning. “I don’t have the right ingredients, let’s order takeout.”/”It’s going to take too long to aggregate all of the data, let’s just go with what we have.”
  • Like eating healthy, personas can be difficult to determine where you have gaps and how to fill them. “Am I low in certain nutrients? Where should I get them from?”/”What data are we missing? Where should we get it from?”
  • Like healthy eating, there can be a rationale to cheat. “I’m on vacation, I can whatever I want.”/”I know what our clients want, we don’t need to gather actual data.”
  • And, like healthy eating, personas need to be maintained or you’ll lose the benefits.

The reality is, personas aren’t quick or necessarily easy to do. They require time, thought and good, thorough data. But, like healthy eating, you’ll reap the longer term benefits: your Customer Experience will be strong, lean and performing at its best.

2 Comments
  1. March 20, 2017 at 6:33 pm
    Ken Horst says:

    Perfect analogy and l also struggle with both issues :)

    I can’t tell you how many business owners I’ve consulted with over the years who want a killer content plan and/or website but refuse to take the time to begin with creating their personas. Needless to say, their content plans and websites will be far less effective at driving engagement and generating leads.

    If you have any tips on how to get clients and companies to invest the time in personas, please share.

    Also, kudos to you for only eating two Girl Scout cookies!

  2. March 20, 2017 at 9:39 pm
    Jane-Anne Mennella says:

    Thanks, Ken! As for how to help convince clients, I focus on two areas: the benefits of doing personas (combined with some of the risks of not doing them) and how important it is that their management realize the value of the long term gains versus the short term quick fix. Getting that additional support and buy-in from management goes a long way and often makes the process a lot smoother and faster. Also, I must admit — the GS cookies did not make it through the weekend. :)

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