8 Tips for Creating Personas and Journey Maps to Accelerate Customer-Focused Product Development

What’s the first rule of business? Know your customers. And with the right tools this can be achieved through customer personas and journey maps. Here are 8 tips to keep in mind.

1) Know the Difference Between Customer Personas and Journey Maps

Customer personas are fictional characters you create to represent the different user types who use your product. They provide information to empathize with the customer experience. A journey map is a visual representation of how one of your personas uses your product across channels. It is used for understanding and addressing customer needs. Using them together, teams should be able to identify key pain points in the user’s experience, areas of delight (where the experience is great), and opportunities for improvement.

2) Be Open to Surprises

Every time I’ve done journeys with clients there is always one or more areas of the user’s journey that they were previously unaware of. The paths can reveal situations that no one had planned for and illuminate opportunities for solving for them.

3) Ask the Right Questions

Some customer persona questions to consider:

  • What are your primary job goals (actions) on a daily basis?
  • What gets you up in the morning?
  • What motivates you to do your best work?
  • What are your frustrations in your current processes or job tasks/activities?
  • What technology, software programs or apps do you use in your day-to-day tasks?

Some journey map questions to consider:

  • What are the stages or phases you go through as you try to accomplish your goal?
  • What actions do you want to complete at each stage?
  • How do you interact with people and technology at each stage?
  • How does the software tool (or product) let you down at each stage?
  • What ideas do you have for improving your experience (with the product/service)?

Some demographic characteristics to consider:

  • Years of experience
  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Education level

4) Get Specific

Journey maps should be created from the perspective of a specific persona, which enables the focus to be on the user’s tasks and expectations. This facilitates collaboration and helps align stakeholders.

5) Validate From Multiple Vantage Points

It can be tempting to immediately want to take action when you receive a piece of feedback from one customer. While the feedback is applicable to that customer, make sure you validate from multiple users. It is also important to establish a process (for enhancements, fixes, and new features requests) that aligns with your product strategy. This will allow you to receive regular input from users and have a set frequency in which you analyze input.

6) Think Outside-in

Companies often have a very good grasp of what their product capabilities and features are. More often than not they have even created their own internal jargon/vocabulary around the processes and functionality. But by creating personas and journey maps, they’re forced to change their mental model/perspective to think from their customer’s perspective and use the same terminology and words their users do. By introducing and nurturing the ongoing practice of using personas and journey maps, companies start to think more like their customers, empathizing and ultimately focusing on actual customer needs rather than what they previously thought they wanted.

7) Invite the appropriate people to participate in the process

Involve people beyond just marketing or UX, which includes subject matter experts from the business units, technical representatives, product owners, product managers and key leadership.

8) Check Back Often

Revisit your personas and journey maps whenever you release features that impact core interactions with your product. It is essential to keep a pulse on your customers (personas) and their journeys so you ensure you’re not impacting them in a negative way.

Cognizant Softvision focuses on educating our clients to understand the value of what they own and what it does so they can define business goals and properly invest in order to move forward with speed.

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