Monday, December 12, 2016

Personas - Buyer vs. Customer vs. User

The other day, I was talking to a friend about the important difference between the buyer, customer, and user of your product.

For a product to be successful, we need to not only understand our personas, but we also need to understand their relationship to acquisition and usage of the product. While the end user of your product may be your ultimate customer, they may have almost no say in the decision making process of the purchase. So, to give your product the opportunity to be their amazing solution, it's good to take a moment to decide who the "real customer" will be at given stages.

You build a nice product, market it beautifully, and unleash your sales team or put it on the shelves (physical, virtual, or otherwise).  Whether or not it goes anywhere will depend on how well you have engaged the right personas.

Let's start with a simple example.

A Parent Buying a Toy

Scenario: A parent wants to buy a nice toy for their child. 

Buyers: The buyer is generally the parent. While their child may have communicated a desire for the toy, the parent will ultimately weigh cost, risk, maintenance, availability, etc. These factors will be typically be evaluated with little consultation with the use.

Users: The primary user of the toy is the child (unless it's a Star Wars toy, then all bets are off).  Day to day, how good of a toy it is will be measured by the child in terms of the enjoyment they receive from it and how much they use it.

Customer: For the most part, both the parent and child become the customers. They have differing goals.  the parent's goals may be their child's happiness, education, safety, fitness, etc. The child wants to enjoy the toy. If the child enjoys it and the parent approves of it, they may continue to invest in that line of toys.

Make sense? Good news, it's not much more complicated than this.

A Customer Relationship Management System

While a CRM is much more expensive and complicated than most toys, the concepts still apply similarly.

Scenario: FeelRealGood Healthcare in Anywhere, USA, wishes to increase patient and physician loyalty using a CRM. This CRM will include components that are patient- and physician-facing.

Buyers: In this particular facility, the buyers will be those tasked with insuring the benefits of the system outweigh its cost. The leadership has decided to focus on the costs related to pricetag, enterprise impact, change management, and maintenance.  For the benefits, they want the solution to be able to meanigfully increase patient and physician loyalty and measure that success easily.  As such, they have engaged the following:
  • Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
  • Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO)
  • Director of Customer Service
  • Director of Patient Engagement
  • Director of Physician Relations
  • Enterprise Architect

Customers: Once the system is acquired and put into operation, the primary customers of the system will be:
  • Director of Customer Service & their staff
  • Director of Patient Engagement & their staff
  • Director of Physician Relations & their staff

Users: Because there are components of this system that are patient- and physician-facing, we have the following primary customers
  • Director of Customer Service & their staff
  • Director of Patient Engagement & their staff
  • Director of Physician Relations & their staff
  • Patients
  • Physicians
But these customers will have very different interactions and needs. Directors will be looking for dashboards and metrics. Staff will be looking for the core functionality for relationship management.  Finally, the patients and physicians will be assessing this product based on how useful and user-friendly it is.

Let Your Personas Inform Your Strategy

As we can see from this example, there are some key stakeholders that fall into every persona category.  Those stakeholders will impact the decisions to not only buy the product, but to retain it or invest further in it. And others are only involved in one piece of the puzzle.

Approaching a given scenario will require your personal judgment, but if you take a moment to understand who your buyer, customer, and user personas are, you can make better-informed decisions and increase your chance of aligning your product with the right clients.

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