With today’s post we start the series introducing the five main canvases of Lean Service Design: People, Purpose, Opportunities, Ideas and Experiments. The People Canvas should always mark the beginning of a service design process.

With this canvas you get a picture of the customer groups. The canvas can be used to sharpen both customer and stakeholder profiles. On the one hand, it takes into account the value set of a customer group (see last post), on the other hand, it considers the particular needs and problems in the context of a service or product.

Here’s how it works:

1 Persona, Description: Describes the prototypical person with picture, name, age and other relevant information.

2 Persona, Metrics: If you have customer-related data or other quantitative metrics about your persona, write them down here. It is important to make a statement about the share of the persona among your customers.

3 Values: Assigns values to the persona (e.g. avarice, security, accuracy etc.). This is very important to understand the deeper reasons for the needs. Marks in which value world the persona is located.

4 Needs/Goals: What are the needs of your customers? What motivates them? Only needs that stand for themselves and are not a solution to a problem are listed here. For example, “I want to eat well” and not “I don’t want to be hungry anymore”.

5 Problems/Pains/Fears: What problems do your customers have? What fears do they have? In our example, it would say “I am hungry all the time”.

There are always several dimensions that influence and define customer groups. Of course, we think first of all of end customers, i.e. the buyers of our products. That is undoubtedly true, but here lurks the first pitfall. This group of people usually has different characteristics, which is why we recommend that you think in terms of primary and secondary target groups when it comes to end customers. If you come to the conclusion that your end customers are much more heterogeneous and therefore need more than 2 personas, we recommend you to think fundamentally about it. Are the characteristics really so diverse or do you find similarities in the really relevant aspects? Is your offer really able to serve many different target groups? And do you have the necessary means to handle them? Our recommendation: less is more, services or products that are supposed to be relevant “for everyone” are rare.

When we talk about customer groups, we must also take the market structure into account. Which sales model do you strive for or is given? As soon as you plan with indirect distribution, sales intermediaries must be treated with high priority and must also be considered as a target group. The strategic question of whether and when such a distribution model makes sense, we would like to leave out here. But if it is used for your offer, the weighting and handling of this user group has to have the right priority and be balanced.

Last but not least, your target groups also include business stakeholders. These are people from your organisation or influencers who play a decisive role in your market success. The Helper-Canvases Team Setup can also be helpful here.