Bring customer insight to life through personas: CX Mini Masterclass – E40

By May 16, 2019 December 20th, 2019 No Comments
This CX Mini Masterclass explains how to put your Voice of Customer (VOC) insights to work through personas. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, teaches listeners how to build a persona and shares ideas on how organizations can leverage personas to foster customer-centric change. If you’ve been looking for a way to maximize the value from your customer insight efforts and would like to help teams empathize with customers, this episode is for you.




A versatile CX tool

Episode 39 covered the definition of Voice of the Customer and why customer insight and understanding are so important, plus some of the most popular methodologies for gathering VOC data. But customer insight is only as good as what you use it for. Once you’ve gone through the effort of gathering information, it’s time to put that to work. The challenge with VOC research is that organizations will often employ multiple methodologies, and while each will unearth different insights, you still need a way to bring everything together.

The good news is that customer personas are an excellent tool for bringing the customer insight to life through a format that is relatable.

So what is a persona? A persona is essentially a fictitious personification of a customer segment. Personas often incorporate demographic data, as well as insights on customer wants and needs, as well as perspectives that are pervasive within a segment. Think of the persona almost like a character who represents the typical customer within a segment. Teams often give these personas names so that they are even more relatable. And in some cases, these persona characters can become fixtures within the business and key features of conversations about product innovation or journey evolution. (I.e. What would our persona “Jessica” think about this new product?)


Building the persona with customer insight

I suggest building the customer persona through a couple of different layers of customer insight:


  • Demographics and characteristics – information like age, occupation, income, family status, where the person lives, etc., will help paint a picture of the persona’s life. This helps teams conceptualize who the persona is and what his or her consumer habits might be. Teams may want to add deeper contextual insights around the persona’s favorite brands or what products feature prominently in their life.
  • Motivations and Drivers – insight about the persona’s aspirations and fears, along with their wants and needs will provide clarity around their goals and “jobs to be done”. This information can be gleaned from focus groups, surveys or interviews and will help teams understand what products, services or experiences might attract or repel a particular customer group.
  • Specific journey or experience perceptions – insight into how a persona might react to a specific product, service or experience. This might also include their opinions about how the experience relates their goals or fears. This is where teams can tailor the persona format and content for their use.


If you are struggling to bridge the gap between VOC insights and drivers,
click here to download my empathy map template.


Using your persona

Personas have long been used by marketing teams, but CX professionals also quickly adopted this tool to help foster customer-centric change, and there are many applications. One of the most popular is as a key input for customer journeys. If you are creating a customer journey, it’s important to identify whose journey you are mapping, so that you can integrate customer emotions and identify which touchpoints they use. Additionally, when teams share a customer journey, including a persona makes the journey much more tangible for the reader.

The applications for personas extend far beyond just customer journeys.
Once teams can relate to the individuals within a customer segment, it’s easier to anticipate their likes and dislikes, and to see experiences through the customer’s eyes. As such, personas can be used in employee training and onboarding to help team members understand and empathize with customers. Personas can also be used as a tool to frame up customer POV during product innovation or experience design. Personas can be used in employee engagement as subtle reinforcement to keep all teams connected to the customer.

There isn’t a magic number for how many personas you need. Best practice is generally to focus on the largest and most important segments and to keep the total number of personas to manageable quantity. Teams might be able to remember a cast of 4-8 characters, but anything beyond that gets confusing.


Want to keep learning about CX?

If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.

And if you are looking to super-charge your CX skills and continue learning, be sure to check out CX University. They have a great array of CXPA accredited training resources available on a flexible monthly subscription plan. Use the code PODCAST10 to get 10% off your first month’s subscription and support this podcast.

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including VOC research and customer insight) or get in touch via email


Julia Ahlfeldt

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