Chapter 4: Product Artifacts — How to create User Personas & Customer Journey Mapping


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The user is central to all your efforts.

The first step to understanding your user is to conduct research about your user and gather information.This may leave you with mountains of data about the user including their background, motivation goals, and needs.
To make sense of all the data, the next step is to create artifacts for your product.

This would help you figure out ways to fulfill user needs in form of product.

There are two artifacts that help you achieve greater understanding about your users:

  1. Personas
  2. User Journey Mapping

User Personas

Personas are generalized (often fictional) characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and behavior patterns among your real and potential customers.
Personas help you understand your customers better so that you can make better decisions related to product design and features.
Creating personas helps you keep the focus on the user and it also aids you to communicate and explain user experience to various stakeholders.

Personas serve different purposes in different product development stages. For a new product, they can be built from the insights you get from initial user research. In later stages, they are used to become more metrics-driven.

A typical user persona comprises the following elements:

  • Title: A persona title allows you to easily make reference to a group of users. You need to create a suitable title, which would summarize a certain group of users into a single word. For example, “Innovator”, “Influencers” could be an appropriate title to suggest how a group of users are.
  • Profile: A demographic brief about the user which includes the user’s age, location, education level, annual income and other geographic details
  • Quote: Capture the Persona’s attitude towards your product or service. Why is he interested in your offerings? What type of solutions is he looking for? What matters most to him? Use real quotes or comments from customer interviews, surveys or questionnaires.
  • Bio: This section gives the viewer a quick insight into the persona’s background, lifestyle, attitude and behavioral practices.
  • Personality: This section tells you about the psychology of the user and comes in handy while creating the interaction design or adding/deleting features
  • User goals: This section includes the aspirational as well as essential goals that the user would like to achieve through the product
  • Tasks: These are a list of items needed to complete in order to complete a goal.
  • Pain points: What is preventing the persona from achieving intended goals? What are the concerns and frustrations with the current solutions? This section is key when it comes to honing the features of your product.
  • Motivations: What inspires your persona to take action?
  • Channels (Touch-Points): How are you going to reach your target audience?

A typical Persona would look something like this –

User Persona
How to build a persona?

You need the following process to develop user personas –

  • Gather User Data (as described in the previous chapter)
  • Condense user data to get relevant data (affinity mapping would help you here)
  • Form persona groups: Organise user characteristics into persona groups which would represent a particular user segment
  • Lastly, make the personas realistic by providing a detailed description of persona’s background, motivations, expectations along with providing a name/group name and a photo to humanize it further

Customer Journey Mapping

As a product manager, you require to focus on the journey of the user, from the first interaction to the last touch point.

User Journey Map is a visual representation of the process that a person goes through in order to accomplish a goal. Or in product management terms, it’s the process of a user that he goes through from the first interaction of the product to the last.

It’s used for understanding and addressing customer needs and pain points and aids you in identifying possible functionalities for your product.

For example, you are considering to buy a new phone. First, you would browse through the available phones via e-commerce sites or go to an offline store to see what all phones are available in the market. Next, you list down few phones that fit your criteria (say — good camera/high performance/long battery/dual sim/< 20K).
Next, you check review sites, as well as review videos on youtube. You also ask for your peer’s opinion.
Once, you have finalized a phone, you buy the phone (say) via an e-commerce site.

Once, the phone is delivered, you find the phone quite good and think of writing a review on the e-commerce site or post about it on social media channel.

A good customer journey map would essentially have following components –

Customer Journey Mapping

The above figure illustrates how a user journey mapping would look like for a persona for a cab-hailing service (say Uber).

Customer journey defines the needs & desires that help the business figure out what should the team focus upon?

The key to developing a user journey map is to develop assumptions based on the customer journey and then validate those assumptions.

Say, if we want to develop a Customer journey mapping for a hotel booking website (say Oyo). Following diagram illustrates what would be the possible touch-points of a user/customer and what would be the assumptions that we need to validate.

Example – How to develop Customer Journey Mapping

Based on the above stages,

  1. Review Goal — Consider organizational goals in the product or service at large, and specific goals for a customer journey mapping initiative.
  2. Gather data — Review all current user research to provide insight into customer experience. If more research is needed, choose a research method that you feel will produce the best results without wasting time or producing unnecessary data. You could choose from user interviews, ethnography & contextual inquiry, surveys, complaint logs, web analytics, social media listening, and competitive intelligence. This will provide a solid foundation for understanding your customers so that you can capture the user goals in each stage.
  3. Define stages of your customer journeys along with the customer touch-points / channels.
  4. Use Empathy Maps to get a deeper understanding of the customer experience for each stage and touch-points.
  5. Brainstorm solutions for each pain-point discovered in the different stages.
  6. Include the opportunities for improving current customer experience. Based on these opportunities. Create an affinity diagram — a brainstorming exercise to find potential solutions to a problem. You can use simple Paper Stickies, Spreadsheet or a Trello board (as shown).

Empathy Map

Affinity Mapping using Trello Board

By now, you’ll have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the users (in different stages) and their possible solutions in form of features.

Once, you have developed the Product Artefacts from the user research, it’s time to build your value proposition, develop prototype and post validation, define MVP (Minimal Viable Product).

Further, we’ll understand more about Prototyping and MVP.

However, before concluding, you should definitely go through following great examples of how should a customer journey mapping look like (link shared in P.S.).

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[Next: Chapter 5 – How to Create Unique Value Proposition]

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PS – Links to few good Customer Journey Mapping

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