Using organisational knowledge and research to achieve better understanding of customers through personas

The background

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) are a UK-based charity whose mission is to ‘overcome the social and educational barriers that hold deaf children back’. The organisation wanted to create a better shared internal understanding of their customers and external stakeholders through improved personas.

The ambition

We wanted to provide NDCS with personas that they had confidence in and were tightly focused on key characteristics that were relevant to organisational decision making. We’ve seen too many bloated personas containing ‘interesting’ content, or ‘facts’ to ‘flesh out’ the character of the persona. These can have the effect of both losing focus to peripheral idea and also becoming too focused on specifics the more detailed the persona is described – when in fact their customers, even within a persona, cover a broader range of characteristics.

The approach

NDCS had a clear idea of which persona types were of relevance. Nine personas were identified covering a range from donors to politicians to different parental types.

Internal interviews

It was apparent that there was huge internal expertise as well as an existing body of research within NDCS. We reviewed the research and interviewed experts on each persona within the organisation. There were about 20 such interviews. We then used this information to create draft personas which was reviewed by NDCS from which amendments were made.

External research

NDCS did a further sweep at this point of ongoing and planned research (surveys) to identify what further information could be fed in to the personas. They then decided that of the nine personas four were sufficient for their needs without further work or validation.

For other five personas NDCS recruited representative people from their contacts and Daydot conducted 1-1 remote interviews to validate the content of the drafts and identify any further insights.

Research outcomes

For each persona we identified some changes to the draft personas which were made with the agreement of NDCS. On the plus side there were no surprises. We also identified a number of attitudes and issues that were generic rather than being specific to individual personas and these were separately presented in our report. A key section was findings around the needs of and usability of the NDCS website from which a stand-alone presentation was made to the web team.

Other focused presentations were made to targeted teams within NDCS who had and interest in particular personas.

The presentation included about 1.5 hours of video clips to bring the issues to life. The presentations were presented with captions and live signing.

The end result

NDCS had found the personas so useful that they started using them to focus discussions even at the draft stage. The presentations and distribution of the personas internally were received with enthusiasm and are now in wide use.

The web team found our analysis to be ‘brilliant’ and incorporated the findings into their strategic review of their site.

The personas were delivered as visually attractive designs on one side of paper to facilitate easy sharing and use.

Driving growth through cross-sell engagement
The Wall Street Journal
We achieved a 240% increase in new member onboarding actions leading to 18% uplift in customer retention rate
Increasing conversion rate by +5.6% and generating £1.5m incremental revenue from our first test
The RSPB is the UK’s largest wildlife and nature charity. Our restructuring of the global navigation yielded a 33% improvement in the discoverability of products on the RSPB Shop site.