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  • Personas- Know Your Customers

    Innovation Toolbox:

  • The Innovation Toolbox

    Personas- Know your customers

    By Ipower WP6DTI - Danish Technological Institute


  • 6Will the end users buy my new product or service? This question inevitably arises in every company developing and supplying new products

    and it is not an easy question to answer. When those products are potentially smart grid oriented and targeted at domestic consumers that might be taking part in a possible future market of flexibility services, the question becomes even more difficult. With the uncertain future of the Danish smart grid, the technology-push driven development and the domestic consumers currently experiencing the maximum comfort of on/off electricity supply availa-ble 99.997% of the time, companies that dont ask that question will be ill prepared for intro-ducing their products and services to domestic consumers.

    In this series of innovation tools we provide knowledge, inspiration and process guidance for you to investigate and answer that question by yourself. To do that, we have created four user centered innovation tools each helping you to investigate different aspects of the question above. On top of that we supply two appendixes for further work:

    1. Strategic Scenarios: which possible smart grid futures should my company prepare for?2. Personas: What customer preferences should my products and services meet?3. Customer Journey: What customer experiences do my existing products and services pro-vide and how can these experiences be improved?4. Business Model Builder: What value propositions can my products and services offer and how can my company profit from delivering that value?

    Appendix 1: Nordic survey of smart grid projects: What have been studied and demon-strated already about domestic consumers in the smart grid?Appendix2:A guide to perform rapid and cost-effective tests of the business hypothesis behind your products and services.

    The tools have been developed as part of iPower, a Strategic Platform for Innovation and Research in Intelligent Power, partly funded by The Danish Council for Strategic Research and The Danish Council for Technology and Innovation: www.ipower-net.dk.

    An introduction

  • 7How to use the toolboxThe four innovation tools are interlinked, and we suggest you apply the following approach for using them in your company:

    1. Preparation phase:a. Map your customer journey: If you have existing product(s) on the market, use the custo-mer journey tool to collect and structure insights about the user experiences provided by your products and services. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to half a year. If you do not have an existing product on the market, familiarize yourself with the customer journey concept as preparation for the strategic business modeling game

    b. Read and start using the Personas and the Scenarios: Familiarize yourself with the perso-nas and the strategic scenarios, and begin using these for innovation activities and strategic discussions in the company. All the persons who are to participate in the strategic business modeling game should be familiarized with the personas and scenarios first

    2. Business model building game :a. Assign and prepare a gamemaster: Prior to engaging in the business model strategic discussion game, assign a gamemaster to read and understand the rules, the tools and the knowledge contained herein. The key function of the gamemaster is to facilitate the game, and he/she should be prepared for this and for answering questions from the other partici-pants.

    b. Play the game: Start playing the strategic business model building game, taking departure point in the business model game board and the rulebook provided. The scenarios, personas and customer journey will be included in the game when instructed, and as the nature of the game is iterative, you may revisit all 4 tools several times, or simply play it through once for a start

  • 83. Going furtherTest the developed business model: With inspiration from the two appendixes provided, test the developed business model in either a demonstration project or by conducting several rapid, low cost tests of the initial and ongoing interest for your business model.

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    What customer preferences should my products and services meet?To develop relevant products and services for the end user and improve the chances they buy your offerings, it is relevant to know the end users a bit better. By knowing their preferences and targeting your produ-cts and services to their known or unknown needs, you will increase the chances of a suc-cessful market introduction and decrease the risks of teething troubles or perhaps even market failure.

    In user oriented development of products and services, two methodological approaches are often applied to increase knowledge about your end users and integrate know-ledge about end user needs in the design and development process: User segmentation studies and personas.

    User segmentation studies attempt to group or cluster actual end users into meaningful user segments by qualitative and/or quan-titative techniques, e.g. questionnaires with filtration questions and subsequent cluster analysis to identify meaningful segments of end users. By identifying common features and preferences of each segment, these studies provide knowledge about possible consumer segments, which companies can use to either match their solutions with all the preferences of all segments, or provide a portfolio of solutions customizable for each segment. However, for products and services which are essentially aimed at an entire household such as domestic smart grid solutions it is difficult to know what the preferences are of the entire family, which means you cannot target a specific domestic smart grid solution for the individual consu-mer to ensure successful sale.

    Personas are not necessarily intended to be statistically correct representations of a spe-cific user segment. Instead, they are fictive characters often based on or inspired by research and segmentation studies - inten-

    ded to present the data on end users in a simple, personalized way. With the rationale that it is easier to design for an archetypical person than for qualitative or quantitative data, personas provide a tool to expand the developers perception of the different users for whom they are designing. The indivi-dual persona is therefore not necessarily a large statistically relevant group of end users, but the entire personas gallery should encompass the majority of the relevant user characteristics and preferences your product or service should be designed to meet. This way, you can rapidly test your solutions against possible end user requirements in the early development process, before perfor-ming more resource intensive involvement of real end users (Nielsen & Nielsen 2013).

    Several smart grid projects have perfor-med studies or even segmentations of end users: the key results of a few projects are presented in the final section Smart grid related user segmentations. The main contribution of this guide, however, will be the personas presented in the section titled Personas. These personas are inspired by the research performed in iPower and other smart grid studies (credited under each persona), but they have been exposed to an innovation interpretation, targeted at broa-dening the user perception in the design and development of new products and services. A few personas are presented without sig-nificant representation in smart grid user segmentation studies. They have been inclu-ded as they remain important end users to design for. Furthermore, we present a guide for how to use the personas in the following section How to use the personas in your company.

    Introduction to Personas

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    How to use the personas tool:Use it in the process of designing and developing new products and services:

    1. For inspiration: Familiarize yourself with the preferences, needs and lifestyles pre-sented in the personas gallery and become inspired to come up with meaningful offe-rings that you may provide to one or several of the personas based on your existing pro-ducts/services or entirely new ones.

    2. For testing: Use the personas gallery to rapidly test your product and service con-cepts for pitfalls do they match the needs and preferences of all the personas? and if not, how can you improve your solution to meet those needs?

    Good questions to ask for each persona:a. Does my product/service address the motivational factors of the persona?b. Can my product/service solve the challen-ges experienced by the persona?c. Does my product/service cover special needs or preferences of the persona?d. How can my product reach the persona, e.g. through his/her peers?e. Will my product meet the flexibility prefe-rences of the persona?

    3. For business modelling: Use the personas as inputs in the business model building game. See Rules and guides for how to use them in this game.

    Bear in mind that the personas do not necessarily represent a significant customer segment as COWIs quantitative user seg-mentation study concluded, the population is not as easy to put into boxes as we may think (COWI 2013). This indicates that one should not treat the personas as homoge-neous consumer segments, where ta