Personas and Customer Journeys, done! Now what?

20 March 2018

By Gabriel Celemin *

After much evangelizing within the company, the board bought into the idea of the need to change. Now everyone is behind the new vision, from the CEO to the last employee. They even have the aspiration to consider the customers’ needs in their decisions. To do it, they hired a specialized consultancy, who left them with memories of some unstructured activities, Personas (user profiles), a couple of suggested Customer Journeys and a handful of post-its stuck on the wall. The question, after the party is over, is: What do we do with all that?

Integrating the voice of the user into the company’s processes is more a problem of culture and wills than a conflict caused by lack of knowledge or technical expertise. On Twitter, we read the frustrations and complaints caused by products –and services– from companies that for years have known that understanding the customer’s needs is a methodical and economical way to create something “usable”. It would seem that these companies struggle to appropriate this way of working, consulting after consulting and training after training.

Companies may not have reached yet the level of organizational maturity in the management of the User Experience (UX) that the market demands.

Why is it so hard? It is likely that companies may not have reached yet the level of organizational maturity in the management of the User Experience (UX) that the market demands. As we mention at MIND (an executive education program at the University of San Andres), customers place the bar higher than ever. They have the power to “delete” any company from their lives by simply dragging it to the “trash” icon on their smartphone. It is that easy for users, yet very hard for organizations to assimilate. And this happens because they are consciously or unconsciously comparing the apps offered by their telephone companies, banks, cable and Internet providers, with those developed by FANGA (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple), and that they use everyday.

By placing ourselves in this context, we can understand that it is no longer enough to dedicate a few hours or dollars to trainings and workshops, but rather that it is just the first step we need to take. As in a video game, there are several levels and we must start with the first one. In this first level of “Learning” the organization will be aware of their clients’ pain points in specific moments, and a few “specialists” will try to solve them, defining standards and process guides for customer service.

The main goals of using Personas and Customer Journeys are to make what happens to our customers visible and become idea catalysts and initiative generators.

Later, at the second level that we call “Commitment”, the company will start to think in terms of “journeys” that satisfy the customer’s goals, while the UX strategy contributes and reinforces the brand strategy. It is likely that these efforts will continue to be led by a few people, perhaps gathered in a group with a name of its own such as “User Experience” or “Customer Experience”. Even in this instance, Personas and Customer Journey Maps could end up lost among the least visited documents on the Desktop. No matter how well thought-out they are or how many improvement opportunities they have captured, the important thing to understand is that they are not the end of the process, but the beginning. Their goals will be, first, to make what happens to our customers visible, and most importantly, to be idea catalysts and initiative generators.

At the level of “Acceleration”, the organization is able to learn from the initiatives it implements, adjust and improve them. The focus is on creating experiences that build and reinforce the relationship between the client and the company. The governance of the Experience no longer belongs to a single department. Several areas apply a user-centered vision and work together to unite the silos that naturally separate them.

The fourth level of maturity, that of “Assimilation”, happens when the UX strategy is an integral part of the organization and is fully integrated with the brand and business strategies. There is no need for a bodyguard to come out in defense of the customer experience. The teams are multifunctional. The company invests in building experiences for future relationships. When we imagine environments where innovation and customer obsession happen every day, we are thinking about this kind of organizations.

Reaching UX maturity is a gradual process. It is about iteration, perspective and constant learning. If the decision to integrate the customer’s vision is solid, the advances and results generated by the process will be the fuel that keeps interest alive and provides the focus to move forward.

* Article originally published at Comunidad Minders.

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