Recalibrate customer insight with need based profiles

Noor Schopman

Head of Client Consulting

10 Apr 2020

5 min read

don’t we already have personas?

Personas originated as a tool for marketing communication. Personas therefore often mainly describe personal characteristics such as age and gender, character traits and preferences. Having a specific persona in mind makes it easier to empathize and hit the right note in marketing communications. So nothing wrong with that. Unless you want to use it for other purposes, for example for the customer-oriented development of your services. Then such a persona is not enough. With need based profiles, you cluster and analyze groups of people based on their service needs and how they behave in their environment, regardless of their demographics. And that is useful for developing your proposition and service. In addition, due to the Corona crisis, these needs may now be different than a month ago, so it is valuable to clarify this (again).

“Customer interviews can easily be conducted remotely, so you can use this period effectively”

need based profiles in service design

To further develop your services, you mainly need insight into functional needs and behavioral characteristics and somewhat less into personalities. That is why need based profiles are more relevant, because they focus more on uses, tasks and the interaction with the touchpoints. It’s about that combination in service design, because that’s where the differences between certain customer profiles arise.

An example: Renee is a 24-year-old student, lives in Amsterdam in a student house and he and his housemates are having a house party this weekend. He doesn’t feel like cycling up and down four times and wants the groceries delivered. Adam of 38 lives in Alphen aan de Rijn with his wife and two children. The youngest has his birthday and next weekend the visitors will come to celebrate. Adam wants to get tasty snacks and drinks for young and old. Both want to do online shopping via an app. Their goal is the same: getting groceries to your home quickly and easily. All other information is actually irrelevant to their purpose.

One person can even have several need based profiles at one organization

From the persona perspective you would make a separate persona for Renee and Adam. From a need based profile perspective, Renee and Adam are the same. They share the goal, they share the required tasks and they use the same touchpoint. That is the input you need to make service design decisions: how do you ensure that Renee and Adam can order their groceries as easily as possible?

personas vs need based profiles

Personas and need based profiles differ from each other in several aspects. These are the most important:

need based profile as a basis for value propositions

You draw up a need based profile before you develop a value proposition. That’s smart, because then you know the customer and can add value. The customer should always be the starting point to make sure you are working on the right things. You quickly miss the point if you first work out the proposition and then hope that the customer will want to use the new product or service. Then you need a large marketing budget to make customers believe that they cannot do without your product. That’s the upside down world. In fact, a need based profile is a requirement for any customer-oriented initiative.

spreading need based profiles internally

The biggest challenge isn’t to create the need based profiles. The trick is to get them embraced throughout the organization and to keep them alive. How do you do that? In any case, you must involve the stakeholders of all channels and departments (including marketers!) in creating need based profiles and demonstrate the real substantive added value! Only then will they become co-owners. Ownership should actually start at management level, because a need based profile is a strategic tool to enable customer focus.

Don’t get bogged down in endless descriptions and details

Try to avoid complexity. A good balance between visual elements and text helps to convey a message well. So don’t get bogged down in endless descriptions and details (a great danger when creating personas) and make sure visual elements are easy to understand. Try to create catchy names and vivid descriptions. This way people remember the need based profiles a lot better.

Finally, train the trainer. Make sure that the owners of the need based profiles can explain them extremely well. So good that they manage to convince you of their importance. As soon as you hear people talking in the corridors about why the ‘dreamers’ use more digital channels than the ‘virtuosos’, you know you’re on the right track.

need based profiles; their strategic importance

Need based profiles bring much more value than personas. They even form the basis for value propositions so that you can confidently develop and roll out customer experience initiatives. Because you continuously refine customer need profiles through research, they are always up-to-date and of value. This makes its organization-wide adoption a lot smoother than that of the marketing-driven personas.

Need based profiles help to make strategic choices with the right insights. In-depth insights based on behavior: that makes every service designer and every customer happy.

Keep me updated

Share this article

Sounds interesting?

We are happy to talk to you to discuss the possibilities. Please feel free to contact

Noor Schopman

Head of Client Consulting

up next

This next article may also be of interest to you.

5min read

what is a service blueprint?

Also interesting

3 min read

aligning teams for a seamless customer experience

4 min read

cx strategy

ODIDO 4 min read

Odido – implementing journey management