Jul 13, 2022

Putting Personas to Work in Service Management

Firstly, we must agree that the customer – known as the 'client', 'end-user' or naming convention of your choice – is the most crucial stakeholder in Enterprise/IT Service Management. Why? Because if you can't adequately support and enable them, productivity and innovation suffer, as does business confidence in your ability to deliver. 

In 2022, more and more organisations are taking agile, iterative, or incremental development approaches. Therefore, getting to know your users is imperative to keep up with agile changes. This is often unfortunately neglected after the technical requirements specification. As a result, organisations tend to assume what customers want instead of understanding what they actually need. 

An easy way of understanding your users is to map personas. Mapping personas isn't new, with sales organisations practicing this art form for decades. For example, if you have ever had an outstanding customer experience when purchasing goods or services online shopping; the chances are high that the vendor has spent time understanding what a 'good' service experience looks like by mapping journeys against select buyer personas. 

What is a User Persona?

User personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users. Usually, when defining a persona, information such as behavior patterns, goals, challenges, attitudes, and the environment in which a persona operates is noted. Suppose your organisation is in the healthcare sector, and you're developing a Self-Service Portal. In this case, aligning your requirements around a select persona, such as a nurse, provides context to these users' challenges and expectations when using the portal.

What is the Benefit of Creating User-Based Personas?

A deep understanding of a target audience is fundamental to creating an exceptional service management experience. User personas help Service Management teams find the answer to one of their most important questions, "Who is consuming our services?". Understanding target users' expectations, concerns, and motivations make it possible to design a service that will satisfy users' needs.


Some of the benefits of designing around User Personas include:


Empathy is a core value if Service Management professionals want to make something pleasurable for the customers using it. Personas help designers create understanding and empathy with the end-users. Thanks to personas, Service Management professionals can:

  • Gain a perspective similar to the user. Creating user personas can help teams step out of themselves and recognise that different people have different needs and expectations. By thinking about the needs of a fictional persona, designers may be better able to infer what a real person might need.
  • Identify with the user you are designing for. The more teams engage with the user personas and see them as real people, the more likely they will consider them during the design process and want to create the best product for them.

Provide Direction for Strategy

Creating user personas can help organisations in shaping their Service Management strategy. A strong understanding of user behaviour, needs, and challenges makes it possible to define a service and what is necessary or unnecessary for them from a user-centred point of view. 


In addition, creating personas allows Service Management teams to prioritise feature requests. For example, features can be prioritised based on how well they address the needs of a primary persona and what the value output is to be. More importantly, personas can also help settle arguments around design decisions. For example, instead of saying, "I think the 'Incident' button is too small," teams will be able to say, "Since our primary persona, Carolyn, the nurse, is always using a tablet, we need to design a tablet-friendly form."


User personas also help prevent common design pitfalls:


  • Self-referential design. This is probably the most common pitfall and, unfortunately, occurs when teams design as though they are creating the service only for themselves when the target audience is quite unlike them.
  • Design for elastic users. An elastic user is a generic user, which means different things to different people. Designing for an "elastic user" happens when product     decisions are made by different stakeholders who may define the 'user' according to their convenience.


It's worth mentioning that although user personas can help Service Management professionals prioritise the features, they can't be used as the only tool for prioritisation; the technical needs and goals of the business also need to be considered. The challenge is always to find a balance between the business and users' needs to create a unified solution.

However, Personas are powerful tools. If done correctly, user personas make the requirement and subsequent design process at hand less complex — they guide the ideation processes and help Service Management professionals to achieve the goal of creating a good UX for the target users. In addition, thanks to personas, teams can keep the actual user at the heart of everything they do.

About Service Quality:

Founded in 2007, Service Quality survives on a simple but powerful idea: empower you to do more with your Service Management and Security solutions. With cutting-edge support and award-winning security and service management practices, you can be sure that Service Quality will help maximise your Service Management investment. Today, hundreds of thousands of users rely daily on Service Management and Security solutions designed and implemented by Service Quality to make their work flow.

Written By: Angus Kenny - Director, Enterprise Solutions