How do I create B2B personas and most importantly, why?
Creating B2B personas is often a major challenge for product teams due to the many potentially relevant dimensions involved. We talked to Markus Fottner, Lead Product Owner Corporate Clients at Star Finanz, about why the effort is worth it anyway.
Personas are a classic method of user-centric product development. They make the user and their context tangible and help teams make better design decisions. In the case of business users, however, the context of use is often complex. In addition to personal characteristics of the users, the organization, internal workflows or IT infrastructure also play an important role. This makes the creation of business personas more difficult than in the case of private customers.
Last year, uintent created B2B personas for StarMoney Business, a product of Star Finanz, the leading provider of multi-bank capable online and mobile banking solutions in Germany. We talked to Markus about our collaboration and the importance of personas for Star Finanz.
Hi Markus, thank you very much for your time today. As an introduction, could you briefly introduce yourself and your tasks? What do you do at Star Finanz?
As Lead Product Owner, I am largely responsible for the product vision of all corporate client, middleware, and portal development based corporate client products. I coordinate roadmap planning, always keep an eye on the "big picture" as well as overarching themes, and act as the technical brace across all POs in the area.
Why are personas important for Star Finanz?
Our goal is to develop in a user-centric way, and we have been doing this for many years. However, the topic has naturally changed over time. Basically, it came up with the shift to agile and sprint-based software development. In this course, we also took a more user-centric approach. Ultimately, the user is the most important stakeholder for us in this process.
How did the requirement to create business personas come about in concrete terms?
We already created personas years ago, but with a focus on private customers. To some extent, the business customer perspective was already represented there, but it is clear that business requirements are different from private requirements. And we wanted to take a closer look at this point, concentrated and explicitly in focus.
How do you use personas at Star Finanz?
Ultimately, our idea, and we've already done it this way with private customers, is that everyone who works on this product gets a persona setcard, so it's really haptic, a page that's printed out on the desk. Then even the developer who is building something can look at it and say, "Ah, I think Johanna, she rather doesn't like this." That means you can hold your work up against it, "challenge" it again, and that helps to decide if a feature is exciting and we should include it or not.
I assume you also use the personas for more strategic purposes, though?
Yes, definitely. In product discovery, for example, or when we do a design sprint. The personas are an integral part of that. You can then say, "This is my stakeholder now, this is important for him." By the way, a big added value of our B2B personas for me is that we have now quantified the segments, not just qualified them. We didn't have that before, but it helps immensely in the discussion.
What do you think was the biggest challenge in creating our B2B personas?
The biggest challenge was ultimately bringing segments and people together. In other words, mapping the right person in the segment, so to speak. At the beginning, we wondered for long time whether we would really have personas or just segments. Would we have faces or just the organization? But thanks to your help we managed that very well. Everyone can find themselves in the results, our employees from sales, development, and UX.
In terms of content, it's really nothing completely new, because we know our customers very well. But our assumptions are proven and now also have a face, which is emotionally important.
Why is just this emotional aspect of personas important?
If I have a face, I simply have more emotionality, and more emotionality brings me that decisive one percent more. It's all about intuition. If I can read it and look at it during the implementation, then I don't have to talk or think about a lot of things. It's implicit because I have the person in front of me. That's an increase in the quality of the work. It's also interesting that despite the virtuality, in the end the haptics, that is, very oldschool a print-out, is so important. A high-quality print-out creates a different bond.
For me, by the way, a challenge was also the selection of the relevant dimensions, both for the data collection and later for the design. That had a lot of complexity overall.
Yes, definitely. That's where you deserve the kudos as well. We had a certain idea of how to approach it. You challenged that well, expanded it, and added new focal points. That was also a highlight of our collaboration. At that moment we found together. We had already made an attempt before where we didn't get anywhere. Then you untied the knot.
For me, the close and regular exchange between us was also crucial in this context. We had set up the project in short sprints with regular workshop and shoulder-to-shoulder sessions, 100% remote of course because of Corona. This allowed us to efficiently link your internal knowledge with our external analysis and to regularly check the work status.
Yes, I would subscribe to that as well. In the end, the result was no longer a surprise for us. And I wouldn't have mentioned the remote way of working now, after more than a year of Corona, it's become a matter of course. But it's true, without the regular remote sessions it would probably have taken longer.
Markus, thank you very much for the interview and of course for the exciting project. We wish you and your team continued success in the further development of StarMoney Business!
About Star Finanz
Star Finanz is the leading provider of multi-bank capable online and mobile banking solutions in Germany for private and corporate customers. The innovative partner of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe is the developer and provider of Germany's most successful banking app "Sparkasse" as well as various innovative solutions for private and corporate customers. In the "Sparkassen Innovation Hub" (S-Hub) business unit, interdisciplinary teams work together with employees of the savings banks and alliance partners to develop innovative ideas, products and services for the entire Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe. With its involvement in numerous solutions and services for all customer segments, Star Finanz is decisively driving forward the topic of digitalization for private and corporate customers within the group.