The use of customer personas is now very common among large corporations in digital marketing, but a lot less elsewhere. Yet, the use of personas throughout customer digital journeys from beginning to end is now possible using the discipline of Business Architecture, involving Capabilities, Value Streams, Information, Organization and Product & Services mappings. Large corporations, that want to become a customer driven enterprise, have several types of clients (or personas) and none of them should experience the exact same customer journey when interfacing with any part of its organization, not just in marketing. With the increasing pace at which disruptive technologies are being adopted by their customers, it is becoming more and more imperative that large corporations find palatable and dynamic ways to accompany their customers throughout their journey and to provide customer lifetime value.
Customer Experience: Not Just Marketing
As pointed out by Denise Lee Yohn in a recent Harvard Business Review article, many executives in her practice seem “to think that designing and managing the customer experience is a marketing function, as if the customer is only associated with marketing,” and that customer journey, as per Diagram 1 above, does not involve operations. These executives seem happy to maintain the age-old silo between marketing and operations. Yet, as mentioned by David C. Edelman, Dorian Stone, and Harald Fanderl in another Harvard Business Review article, “customer journeys today are a complex series of interactions across multiple channels and platforms, where each point of contact has the potential to encourage the sale or derail it entirely. Coordinating the infrastructure, technology, and messaging in a way that appears seamless and fluid to the customer is, to be blunt, a logistical nightmare” that involves not only marketing but also operation and IT. Within a large organization, strategically harmonizing various business capabilities can optimize value streams for specific personas to insure seamless and satisfactory outcomes throughout their customer journey.
Before exploring the Persona concept, let’s explore customer experience with a simple customer journey map, as shown in the Diagram 1 example describing the engagement stages to acquire a customer for a product/service. These stages include discovering, learning, commit and retain. For any customer, the discovering stage maybe planned or unplanned, will often involve other members of a customer’s social media entourage for which different feelings will arise that will satisfy him or her at different degrees. The learning stage will almost always involve good, appealing and appropriate content for each persona, which will trigger commitment and should eventually make it possible to retain a customer.
Each of these stages should involve the operations and IT side of an organization, not just marketing. The most obvious stage were operations need to be involved is at the retaining stage. Yet, all other customer journey stages also need the operations involvement in a customer driven enterprise. Once a customer has purchased one of your products or services, he will need at one point of its customer journey to discover, learn and possibly commit to other ones. Operations and IT need to understand these trigger points where it is appropriate to engage in these stages using appropriate content for each persona.
These customer journey stages will be different for each persona, who will have a different customer experience involving different thoughts, feelings and satisfaction needs. These concepts are common to marketers. They also need to be known and used by the operations and IT side of a large organization in a customer driven enterprise.
The customer’s thinking, feeling and satisfaction based on the organization’s specific set of business capabilities for each persona will be either satisfactory or not. If the results are satisfactory, then the entire organization (not just marketing) needs to ask itself how it could optimize and sustain these set of capabilities. At the opposite, if the result is dissatisfaction, then the organization must ask itself how to adjust its investments to mature its set of business capabilities using appropriate value streams.
Personas represent external customers to an organization and “are fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments. (…) Personas are useful in considering the goals, desires, and limitations of brand buyers and users in order to help to guide decisions about a service, product or interaction space such as features, interactions, and visual design of a website.” Customer personas are used as part of a user-centered design process, as shown in Diagram 2 below, for designing more intuitive software, to increase the user-friendliness in industrial design and more recently for online interaction and transactions purposes. This design process includes Design Thinking and Lean User Experience (‘Lean UX’). Design Thinking will usually include the following steps: empitize, research, define, and ideate. As for Lean UX, it usually includes the following actions: prototyping, integrating, implementing, and collecting feedback. This design process is iterative. Continuous design delivery for rapid prototyping will be required to keep the specific set of business capabilities optimized for each persona using appropriate value streams.
As shown in Diagram 3 below, “a user persona is a representation of the goals and behavior of a hypothesized group of users. In most cases, personas are synthesized from data collected from interviews with users. They are captured in 1–2-page descriptions that include behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and the environment, with a few fictional personal details to make the persona a realistic character. For each product, more than one Persona is usually created, but one persona should always be the primary focus for the design.” To this description, often preferred and most disliked tastes, features, digital channels, devices, and types of content will be listed for each customer persona. Personas make business strategies and planning more personable which lends to better business to consumer relationships that are more enduring and outcome focused. With personas, organizations will understand better what their products/services are really providing to their customers. More recently, corporations have even started using big data advance predictive analytics to create and further refine their personas for customer segmentation.
Business Architecture and Customer Strategy
Business Architecture is an excellent way to ensure that customer journeys for all your key customer personas are implemented successfully everywhere throughout your organizations and not just in marketing. Business Architecture allows the following:
- Develop a shared common vocabulary and shared metrics,
- Make industry/market comparison and SWOT assessments of your organization’s customer-facing business capabilities,
- Select and prioritize customer journeys and concentrate on the most strategic ones that matters the most,
- Work together on a roadmap planning and delivery for each of these customer journeys by enhancing and creating business capabilities tailored for each persona’s behavior and tendencies (market segments) using value streams,
- Build a structure for collaboration within your organization by making available to all relevant stakeholders your business architecture model, and
- See each customer journey all the way through with appropriate measurement methods involving all relevant internal stakeholders using value streams/capabilities (as per Diagram 8 below).
Derek Miers, for example, has well illustrated the success of the use of Business Architecture to identify and eliminate redundancies, and to increase collaboration in enhancing customer journeys within an European bank in this very recent article entitled “A Major European Bank Employs Business Architecture and CX to Overcome Silos”.
“Chartering of the Business Architecture programme underscored the challenges of engaging executives; they really wanted to understand the business case. They did not fully see the value until it became clear that Business Architecture would reduce overall programme risk and costs. In the business areas, it’s early days with business managers still asking significant questions as they struggle to understand the impact on their traditional governance framework. Once they understood the commitment generated and engagement associated with the core co-creation approach, their fears tend to subside.”
Operationalizing Customer Journeys
In their presentation entitled “Operationalizing Customer Experience Initiatives” made for the Business Architecture Guild, Jason G. Fish and Whynde Kuehn explain clearly in Diagram 4 above how customer journey strategies, operations and technology need to work together to make the right things happen. To understand and communicate your Customer Journeys Strategy, the following steps need to be executed:
- Map your business capabilities, in particular your customer-facing capabilities,
- Identify the accurate information for each customer persona by the preferred method of content consumption: phone, text, web, social media etc.,
- Articulate value through Value Streams linked to the customer journey of each persona, and
- Transform the entire organization with various BIZBOK, Agile Methodologies, BPMN and BABOK methods to ensure a continuous delivery method.
Increasing Pace of Digital Disruption
The pace of technology adoption by customers is speeding up, as shown in Diagram 5 above, and it’s not going to change anytime soon with the upcoming disrupting technologies mentioned in Diagram 6 below, like mobile internet, the automation of knowledge work, internet of things/wearables, the cloud, advanced robotics, autonomous and near-autonomous vehicles, nanotechnologies, next generation genomics, energy storage, 3D printing, advanced materials, etc.
This digital disruption is impacting your customer experiences in several ways as mentioned by Shelly Palmer. Some customer personas adapt quicker then others to these rapid changes and in consequence corporate offerings now need more then ever to have a variety of offerings using a variety of channels adapted to each persona. Confrontation with competition is only one click away, forcing corporations to tweak their offerings and customer journeys at a much greater pace then before. More and more, corporations have got to ask themselves if their digital footprint for the set of required business capabilities are satisfactory for each of their key personas. Do the products/services match up to each of their personas? What type of digital enablers does your organization possess to make its business capabilities available when and where the customer is in their customer journey? Do the digital enablers include all platforms, social media, mobile applications, websites, alerts & notifications, robo-type opportunities, etc. to become a true customer driven enterprise? Which personas are early digital adopters? Leveraging personas help organize capability planning based on customer segment insights on digital preferences can clarify strategic priorities and investments.
Customer Lifetime Value
As explained by Craig Martin, this quicker pace of disruptions leaves no choice for any acute organization then to transform itself rapidly from a seller driven enterprise model or from a customer centric enterprise to a more Customer Driven Enterprise maximizing Customer Lifetime Value, as shown in Diagram 7 below.
In a Customer Lifetime Value model, it’s clearly not about just marketing anymore. It requires more predictive insight data analysis, interactive & proactive services, individualized customer understanding using customer personas, inter-enterprise bundles between business units and departments using specific sets of business capabilities and customer driven concept for each persona, integrated and seamless channels using specific customer content for each persona and the elimination of all functional organizational silo to become a genuine customer outcome organization.
Value Streams and Enabling Business Capabilities
Customer-facing Value Streams are the best kept secret among the Business Architect’s arsenals. Not enough Business Architects use them. Yet, it is an ideal method to transform your business from a seller driven enterprise to a customer driven enterprise and provide customer lifetime value. Diagram 8 below shows for example the “Acquire a Customer for a Service” value stream/capabilities for a customer in a commercial bank.
Ideally the Customer Journey in Diagram 1 and the Value Stream in Diagram 8 should have the same stages. This value stream requires five value stages: ‘consider a type of service’, ‘evaluate and compare’, ‘commit to service’, ‘use and monitor’ and ‘refine and review’. Sub-value stages can be derived from each of these value stage to reflect the uniqueness of each one of your customer persona doing business with your organization. For each value stage, entry and exit criteria are required. More importantly, each value stage is enabled by several capabilities. Each stage requires each 5 or 6 capabilities. Each value stage and relevant capabilities can be measured in several ways, using performance heat map, business complexity measurement, custom KPIs, etc. From this perspective, you can then move much more smoothly from initiative planning to initiative delivery by linking the appropriate detailed processes to the relevant value stage(s), detailed assets and requirements to the relevant capability(ies), etc.
Product & Service Mapping
Making a Product roadmap with the use of Business Architecture to provide customer lifetime value is also becoming imperative for each one of your customer persona. Product lines rely on Value streams and Capabilities. The implementation of new strategies and the delivery of initiatives will usually impact your Product lines, owned by one of your Business Unit. Once customer segmentation is defined with the different personas, the products and services can be tailored for the specific persona. Learnings from sales will help refine the organizations’ customer segmentation as well as product design and development.
As somewhat mentioned in the BIZBOK, the questions that business architects can answer while doing their product mapping include:
- Are any one of the new digital strategies to be implemented impacting any of the current or future product lines for each key persona?
- How will digital disruption affect new product rollout to the current business units?
- How will products and services align the digital experience of a customer journey?
- Are there initiatives already underway related to products and services that should be viewed within a longer term digital strategy?
- Which value streams and business capabilities would be needed for that product or service in a digital context?
- Are the right business partners involved and managing to a common digital platform of that product?
Providing a product lens into the business, strategic impacts, initiatives, value delivery and capabilities, and partner relationships is certainly another way to make sure that your company is providing customer lifetime value.
In brief, the increasing pace of digital disruption in almost every industry is forcing all organizations to be more responsive and vigilant than ever. The use of Business Architecture in combination with customer personas throughout customer digital journeys is an excellent method for modern organizations to keep up with this pace of disruption. Within the discipline of Business Architecture, Capabilities, Value Streams, Information, Organization and Product & Services mappings can be extremely valuable to enable corporations to stay on top of their game. Value Stream and Capability mappings in particular are becoming more and more common to transform businesses into a customer driven enterprise to provide customer lifetime value.
 Harvard Business Review Article entitled “7 Steps to Deliver Better Customer Experiences” written by Denise Lee Yohn on February 3, 2015.
 Harvard Business Review Article entitled “A Step-by-Step Plan to Improve CMO-COO Collaboration” written by David C. Edelman, Dorian Stone, and Harald Fanderl on January 28, 2015.
 Wikipedia definition of UX Personas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persona_(user_experience).
 Learn more on this blog entitled “Creating buyer personas with advanced predictive analytics” written by Kaitlin Noe on July 29, 2015 on IBM’s website.
 Article published on LinkedIn Pulse entitled “A Major European Bank Employs Business Architecture and CX to Overcome Silos” on January 6 2016 by Derek Miers.
 Quote extracted from this article entitled “A Major European Bank Employs Business Architecture and CX to Overcome Silos” published on LinkedIn Pulse on January 6 2016 by Derek Miers.
 Presentation entitled “Operationalizing Customer Experience Initiatives” published on the Business Architecture Guild website on September 16, 2014 made by Jason G. Fish and Whynde Khuen.
 Slide 14 of the Presentation entitled “Operationalizing Customer Experience Initiatives” published on the Business Architecture Guild website on September 16, 2014.
 Business Architecture Guild’s BIZBOK Guide: https://businessarchitectureguild.site-ym.com/?about.
 Read more about agile methodologies with this article entitled "Waterfall or Agile? Do Both!" on TCGen's website.
 OMG’s Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN): http://www.bpmn.org/.
 IIBA’s BABOK: http://www.iiba.org/babok-guide.aspx
 Diagram extracted from this article entitled “The Pace of Technology Adoption is Speeding Up” written by Rita McGrath in the Harvard Business Review on November 25, 2013.
 Diagram extracted from this article entitled “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy” written by James Manyika, Michael Chui, Jacques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Peter Bisson, and Alex Marrs in a McKinsey Global Institute report published in May 2013.
 Shelly Palmer wrote the book entitled “Digital Wisdom: Thought Leadership for a Connected World” published on December 16, 2012.
 Slide 25 of the Presentation entitled “Using Business Architecture to Enable Customer Experience and Digital Strategy” published on Feb 23, 2014 by Craig Martin.
 Referring to page 223 of the Business Architecture Guild’s BIZBOK Guide.