Customer personas are all the rage in marketing, particularly when it comes to content marketing and user experience, and are widely used to help brands better understand their customers and serve them better.
However, applying the concept of personas to how brands deliver customer service has (to my knowledge) never been done before. So, I was really interested to learn that Aspect has just released a new piece of research that aims to do just that: put brands into one of five different customer service persona segments.
Through their research, Aspect has been able to identify five different personas that typify brands approach to, and delivery of, customer service.
From the research, the five personas are:
- The Traditionalist – Big on customer touch, short on technology
- The Honcho – Heavy on the executive leadership, light on strategic effectiveness
- The Selfie – Tons of tech, missing on metrics
- The Casualist – Best intentions, worst in just about everything else
- The Stickler – All policy, no apologies
Can you see your brand in one of these personas? If not, take the test.
Digging into the research and detail of the personas, I found myself wondering two things:
1. Is any particular persona under more competitive pressure than any other?
I asked Joe Gagnon, SVP and General Manager Cloud Solutions at Aspect about this and here’s what he had to say:
“While there’s something to be said for the Traditionalist’s dedication to customer care, in their quest to build long lasting relationships through person-to-person interactions, they miss the mark in understanding how technology can help them better serve their customers. The new definition of exceptional customer service is the perfect mix of agent and technology with a healthy dose of self-service.”
He went on to say:
“By overlooking advancements in the new world of consumer engagement, such as mobile applications or self-service capabilities, the Traditionalist not only misses out on efficiencies that the technology provides but also runs the risk of alienating a growing and long-term customer segment – millennials.”
Now, that doesn’t mean that if your persona is ‘The Traditionalist’ that it’s all doom and gloom as closer scrutiny of the personas shows that each one suffers from some deficiency or other. Moreover, the research shows that most companies, regardless of their persona, have a long way to go before they reach customer service ‘perfection’.
2. Is there an ideal persona that companies should be aspiring to?
Because the research found that deficiencies exist across all of the personas, no ideal persona was identified. However, an attempt to create an ‘ideal’ can be cobbled together if we take a number of the individual strengths from the different personas including:
- The customer obsession of the Traditionalist;
- The technology enthusiasm of the Selfie;
- The executive commitment of the Honcho; and
- The policy tidiness of the Stickler.
Combining these traits would help create a customer service approach and persona that addresses both the changes in consumer preferences that we see happening around us whilst also delivering a positive financial return.
That sounds good. Who’s up for that?
Overall, I like the research and what it has tried to do. Increased self-awareness is often cited (1, 2) as one of the biggest challenges facing leaders and brands and, so, if customer service personas can help brands better understand themselves, where they are strong and where they need to improve what’s not to like?
This post was originally published on my Forbes.com column.