CS Buyer Persona

This is a guest post.

A properly-aligned buyer persona can mean the difference between squandering your marketing budget and making the most of it. These hypothetical customer profiles dictate everything from what blog topics you cover to the advertising campaigns you purchase (or not).

Many companies conduct interviews with sales and customers to fashion their buyer persona. But there is another often overlooked resource for defining your target customers’ values, wants, fears, and objections – customer service.

Your support team talks to your REAL customers every day. So it makes sense they would be most in tune with their habits. Here’s several tips you can use for leveraging customer service to refine your buyer personas.

Identifying Preferred Communication Channels
Buyer personas help your marketing team ensure they are contacting the right audience, at the right time in the right place. Customer service is a great venue for addressing that last factor – the right place.

This can mean communities and publications where they gather, but also the communication channel they are most familiar with – whether that’s helping themselves online, calling or emailing. Have you customer service team flag each interaction with the communication channel used to submit the issue. That way, you can later pull a report and mine for trends. If one of your personas primarily calls, your sales team will know that’s the most effective means for connecting with that lead.

Assess Technical Savvy
Understanding your customer’s level of technical savvy is also important as you craft your blogs and other marketing materials. To do this, start by meeting with your customer service team to identify the most common questions they receive about your product or service.

Then, for each question, discuss what technical bucket they would fall into — whether that’s “highly technical,” “general,” or “basic.” You could choose more macro tiers that are specific to your company, too.

Here’s an example – my company Software Advice helps companies figure out which software products best fit for their needs. We’ve learned that small businesses generally have broader questions (general) about what business problems various software types solve. On the other hand, larger buyers ask more pointed questions about specific functionalities and features (technical).

Fears, Wants, and Values
Your marketing team should also work with customer service to identify other possible support behaviors that reveal buyer intent for your product, or realized fears from the pre-purchase stage. Let’s crutch alternative producer, Goodbye Crutches, as an example. They have a persona, “Mary the Motivated Mom,” and perhaps she’d call customer service wanting to know if the she purchased could be disassembled because it wouldn’t fit in the trunk of her car.

That’s a really good question. Probably a question a ton of other potential buyers have. It also reveals a concern she and many others have with your product that would be pretty handy to clear up during the pre-purchase stage, eh? Marketing might, knowing this information, include a diagram in marketing materials that shows how the scooter folds up and fits the dimensions of most standard vehicle trunks.

To record and track this data, allow space either in your customer service software or CRM to track these “fears” “wants” or “values.” Ideally you can export the information into Excel to sort and look for patterns that will help you refine your buyer personas as you gather more and more information.

Find Timely Marketing Opportunities
Customers don’t always use your product right away. Sometimes they purchase it for a particular occasion, or just for “when they need it.” This time might be obvious, but it’s likely there’s other situations you didn’t imagine your customers would use your product.

Customer service can help unearth these “when they need it” moments. This can happen in two ways. One, have your service team start to record how customers are using the product or service. In other words, what were they doing when they had to call to figure something out, or solve and issue. Then, you can look for trends on those uses.

The second way is to allow space to record calls that are relevant to a particular time of year or event. Does your persona attend a certain festival every year? Are they a parent, and need to prepare for back to school? Understanding what is timely to your consumer will help reinforce relevancy and immediacy to buy.

Prioritize Marketing Spend
Customer service can also enable your marketing team to prioritize spend better. What’s the support volume required for each persona? How often does each persona call? How long does each call last? How often do they refund?

Depending on what percent of sales that persona contributes, you might choose to decrease marketing investments for that particular persona if the cost to acquire them as a customer exceeds the cost to keep them on board.

How does your marketing team create buyer personas? Join the conversation by commenting here.

Ashley Furness is a CRM Analyst for research firm Software Advice. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising.