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customer personas

Personas: Helping Outsourced Teams Get to Know Their Customer

Marketing teams use “personas” – detailed description of your customers – to design products, publicity campaigns and more. See how you can use Personas to deliver an improved customer experience.

In today’s world, it’s rare to find companies whose products or services are completely unique. Sometimes, the only way for an organization to differentiate itself is by offering a superior customer experience. But if the experience is subpar, the whole world will find out immediately thanks to ever-present social media.

Tomorrow’s competitive battles are already being influenced by today’s customer experiences, according to Julio Hernandez, Head of Global Customer Center of Excellence at KPMG USA. He said that in order to cultivate customer loyalty, organizations must offer much more than just products and services.

Outsourcing and Customer Experience

We all know that almost all major companies outsource important pieces of their operation. These organizations know their customers better than anybody else but use specialized providers to improve their capacity, flexibility, experience and cost structure in specific areas.

The insight that companies now have of their clients is particularly clear in the marketing and design departments.

When a company brings in an outsourcing partner, the primary focus is often on technology and processes. It’s like we assume that our new partner will know our customers just like we do. Or is it that we don’t think they need to know them? Either way, when we do this, we are creating a knowledge gap that will impact our end users and our own company.

A Common Story Rewritten

Patty is a friend of mine and just started working as a tech support engineer under the outsourcing model. After a few days – once training is completed – I ask her to describe her clients: the answer I receive is vague. She feels right at home with our tools and processes but is not able to describe who the client is as a person. She knows the tech basics regarding problems that she will solve; but doesn’t know yet what the client sees, does, thinks and feels about the situation that triggers their request for help.

Patty will eventually figure it out. This is not the first time she has dealt with this situation. In the meantime, she will do her best, but the first customers that she works with will likely see that something is not quite right.

Should we take ownership to ensure the story is developed differently next time? Wouldn’t it be better if we make it something like this?

  • Patty has started her training. The first item in the agenda is a session of “Knowing Your Customer”.
  • This helps her get to know the customers so well that she could recognize one if she meets them in the street.
  • Patty has a better sense of the processes and tools that she uses. Because she understands what the user feels and is trying to accomplish. She realizes the positive impact that she can create for the customer.


The Tool

Marketing and design teams use detailed descriptions of the customers, called Personas. They use a Persona to bottle the essence of the customers to create a single vision that can be shared with the entire team when they are creating a new product, a marketing campaign, and customer journeys and experiences.

Crafting a good Persona is not a simple feat, but you should not worry about becoming an expert; just know that this tool exists and that the marketing and design team can help you. Let them know that you want to team up with them about enabling your outsourced teams to provide a better customer experience.

Here are some key concepts for you.

  • Start with the Basics. A very basic Persona will have information such as gender, age, location, and other similar data. For example: male, age 35-45, married, has a college degree, earns $80 – 100K USD and a lift of his interests.
  • Improve it with a Narrative. The basic approach provides a limited view; adding a narrative will bring the Persona to life. Start with who the customer is as a person, what is a typical day for them, what their aspirations are, what they like, dislike and so on.
  • Understand the Situation. Get the information related to the specific situations where your team is involved. You can do it by having an understanding of what the customer sees, does, thinks and feels about that situation.
  • Get clear on the Solution. Describe the Problem of the customer. Then, understand what the customer does if a solution is not provided. Finally, be clear about how your solution is better than the customer’s own alternative.

Again, you are not required to create the Persona from scratch. But if you are curious and want to learn more about it, there are books, training courses and other resources available. In my case, I enjoyed how this is discussed in the online course “Agile meets Design Thinking” by the University of Virginia, available on Coursera. Week 2 was particularly interesting.

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Putting it all Together

  • Start with the objective that your outsourced team should have a great understanding of the customers that they will serve, even if they are “internal” end users.
  • Leverage the knowledge and experience of your marketing and design teams. Ask them to share the Personas they have created and, if possible, to collaborate on the training of your teams.
  • Engage the Account Manager of your outsourced team. Share your objective and ask them to include  “Knowing Your Customer” sessions as part of the onboarding.
  • Verify that your outsourced team is well equipped with this information and see if they need anything else in this regard.

All these points can help you provide a better experience to your customers and will enable your outsourced team to deliver value sooner. Of course, you can also use Personas to enable your own direct teams.

Francisco Viera

Francisco Viera is an experienced leader and has delivered IT services for SMBs and for several 500 Fortunes companies. Francisco initiated the delivery practice for Accenture Monterrey. He was the first IT lead for Crediclub, a successful FS Mexican company, and delivered the first version of their core IT services. With a career that spans more than 20 years, the one constant has been building teams and defining/improving processes. Francisco is a life-long learner and holds a degree in computer science and an MBA. You can contact Francisco here.

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