Getting Support for Creating Buyer Profiles

Jerry Rackley

By Jerry Rackley

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Ashley Furness, CRM Analyst at Software Advice and author of an article about using the customer service function to gain insights for buyer profiles. It’s a brilliant idea, and so obvious it makes one want to declare, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

If you’ve seen the movie Avatar, the greeting of the Na’vi people who inhabit Pandora is “I see you” – it’s an expression that goes beyond merely acknowledging the existence or presence of another. It conveys an emotional understanding of that person and their importance. Buyer profiles are tools that help marketers “see” the buyer on an emotional level. By creating a buyer profile or persona, we can get past the demographics and better know the people we’re trying to reach with our marketing efforts.

There’s a lot to like about personas. If there’s a problem, it is getting the insights necessary to create accurate, representative ones.  Ashley explores in her article getting the customer service or support function involved in the process. It’s a great idea. Producing buyer personas is typically done in “top-down” fashion by the marketing team.  This approach is fine, as long as some “bottom-up” validation occurs. Present the analysis to the customer service team and ask them: “Does this persona describe the customers you talk to every day?”

Getting customer service to render an opinion on a persona does a number of things, including validating the assumptions in your analysis, as well as gaining buy-in from the front-line. After all, you create a persona for a reason: to better pursue the right customer, ideal customer or the most profitable customer. You want the team in customer service, who will probably play a key role in whatever plans or campaigns that result from the analysis, to fully support and understand from whence it comes.

A number of customer service behaviors are good inputs for creating a persona:

  • Type of support channel used (web, hotline, other). This can indicate level of technical savvy.
  • Frequency of support requests
  • Nature of support requests (e.g. someone who calls every month requesting a password reset)
  • Responses to support trailer surveys (some organizations send post-service call survey links)
  • Complaints

Buyer personas are effective tools for getting deeper insights into the people you’re trying to influence with your marketing. Take full advantage of all the customer-facing personnel in your organization to help you refine your personas to accurately portray your buyers. Use the Demand Metric Buyer Persona template to help you do this.


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