Do Personas, Stakeholder, Journey Maps work?

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Successful companies are now viewing their marketing as a method for getting the message in from the marketplace versus pounding the message out. It is this inbound marketing stuff we have been talking about the last few years. The new methodologies of User Experience, Service Design, Design Thinking and the Lean StartupTM are all about using this found wisdom and all expound to be “Customer Centric” and concentrate on the “Customer Experience”. It is that Outside – In thinking.

The three tools that have become prevalent are Customer Personas, Customer Stakeholder and Customer Journey Maps. They are tools that we use to understand and improve the Customer Experience. There is seldom a workshop that does not utilize these three tools, and they have been widely adopted in the community. I use them myself and find them quite fun to talk about and to do.

I wonder after a workshop, how many participants actually go back to their organizations and create personas, stakeholder and journey Maps. I am familiar with a few that have, especially the customer personas. However, if you are like most, you go back to your everyday job and work. It was an exercise and only an exercise. If you do make the attempt, you do it in an isolated group with participants that already have a decent idea on what is needed. There is little disruptive change that occurs. We may bring a few “outsiders” in, but those people seldom understand the bigger picture of the organization (said in jest).

The truth is if you try to use these tools you find them cumbersome. There is not the external knowledge of the customer present, and so assumptions are made. If sales is included, they seldom are, the salespeople are disengaged and looking at their smartphones and stepping out to make urgent calls. The innovative organization would like to have both salespeople and customers included but without mastery of the tools find it difficult.

Lately, I have been challenging organizations to turn back and think internally. Think inside-out versus outside-in. At the end of a workshop or webinar, I no longer ask participants to take this knowledge back and design customer facing services or involve sales and marketing. I ask them to do it for their vendors. I ask them to take one of their own particular services or outsourced products that they use internally and create Customer Personas, Customer Stakeholder and Customer Journey Maps. I encourage the Lean Champion to head the project if and only if he can stop it from making it the typical Lean or Six Sigma Project. We are empathizing with the users and discovering how decisions are made within our own company. Our goal is one of discovery and definition. Seek to understand not fix.

We first need to address the users of the service/product and create the Customer Persona Map. Then view the stakeholders and who is influenced by the use of this product and who influences them. Mapping the Customer journey in our organization can also be enlightening. If you want to have a little fun, have your supplier create his own three maps and see how they compare. Now, bring who you would designate as your outbound map makers and show them the results. How valid will one be with your customer? Would it be worth your time? Or, would yours look like the one created by your supplier?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.

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