How we used data-driven personas to radically improve the customer experience


Most conversations around personas happen with the marketing or product teams. These groups use personas to define typical customers by their demographics, likes, values, backgrounds, goals, challenges, aspirations, etc. A persona profile includes a picture and some statements representing the person.

It might include where to reach that person, especially for marketing purposes. The product team might use it for successful product design so that a product is sticky, has higher performance and has fewer technical issues.

Using persona-based services in implementation, customer support and customer success lay an essential foundation for startups and early-stage companies. We did, and it has transformed our company.

It began with an internal commitment to become a 100% customer-centered organization. We knew we could improve the customer experience, which was good, but not the level we strive for. We satisfied customers, but we also weren’t making them ecstatic. We looked at every process, deliverable, product and customer engagement through the lens of the customer and committed to a method of constant reinvention to improve the customer experience.

So, we dove into the numbers.

Personas persist throughout the entire customer lifecycle. From sales to implementation to support, customer success and renewal.

Even though each customer implementation was different, there were some similarities and characteristics we could cross-match among multiple customer sets. We looked at 250 data points — about two-thirds were internal and the rest were from secondary research about the company and the market.

Some of the items we looked at were:

  • Have they used a competitor’s software?
  • What is their reason for choosing us?
  • Are they transitioning from spreadsheets and files?
  • What specific problems are they trying to solve? For example, one customer noted that competitors provided partner quotes in hours as opposed to their company, which took multiple days.
  • What is their primary goal to achieve with our software?

We added this intelligence to the standard knowledge transfer call between the sales and implementation teams to learn as much about the customer as possible. We used all those points to categorize each customer into one of four personas. These personas work for us. Your customer data can lead you to create the personas that matter most in your customer base.

We categorized our implementations into four different personas.

  • Simplicity — Focused on implementation speed, time to success and out-of-the-box functionality. CSMs should be involved in 30-60-90-day planning and best practices early.
  • Marketing — Focused on design and partner experience. They might ask 10 questions about the picture gallery on the partner portal homepage. They will ask about specific design elements, such as if buttons can have rounded corners instead of squares, etc.



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