The Challenge

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Wonderbill is an app to keep track of all of your utility bills, broadband expenses and other outgoing to have them all in one convenient place. It began life as a super-niche tool to help identify suppliers after moving house, but since then had expanded to a general bill management tool. As such the team were conscious the persona’s they had initially created were outdated (not to mention, somewhat uninspiring) and in preparation for a high level board meeting to secure funding for the future of the company, they commissioned Webcredible to create a new set of research-based personas to inform the future of marketing and product development. We had six weeks.

Approach

Interviews

We began by identifying a diverse spread of individuals from different economic and social backgrounds to get as large a spread of participants as possible given time and budget. These were a mix of ages, renters and homeowners and differed in their provider switching habits. These interviews were conducted over four days, and delved into their attitude to bills, levels of technology maturity, and online security.

Wonderbill Research Breakdown

When one considers bill-paying, excitement are not the first word that spring to mind. But what we heard over the course of our research were stories of high-drama, skullduggery and high comedy. We decided that this energy and humanity could not be watered down or sterilised in our finished product.


Analysis

After analysing the other findings and drawing out key themes, we ran a collaborative workshop with key stakeholders to identify and cluster behaviours, circumstances and attitudes.

My colleague Olena displays the findings.
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I talk clients through the final clustering

Our hunch going in that two of the “big five” personality traits, contentiousness and neuroticism, would be particularly important in attitudes to bill management, and this indeed proved to be the case. (We had initially wanted to combine a big-five psychometric test as part of the interview process, but this proved unworkable in the time we had available.)

Contentiousness corresponded to their overall engagement with bill-paying activities - from total indifference and lethargy to energetic, highly organised individuals. Neuroticism - or proneness to anxiety - corresponded to the emotional relationship with personal finances and the tendency to avoid dealing with them. Our research also showed a consistent pattern of having a life-crisis that changed their attitude to finances, everything from the arrival of a new baby to the secret lives of husbands - which altered their degree of contentiousness and empowering them to take control.

We decided that we would show where each persona sat on the big-5 personality, based on our overall sense of the emerging characters, but to be followed-up and corroborated (or not) with quantitative research in the future. (Broadly speaking, the incorporation of psychometric research in Personas is unexplored territory).


Bringing them to life

It was important to us that the shocking, entertaining, and moving stories we heard during research were not lost or sanitised in the process of the persona’s creation. While we could not of course tell the actual stories, we decided to embellish our persona’s back-stories so they were every bit as eyebrow raising and memorable as the ones we encountered. This, in turn, would help the personas be memorable, and dwell in the back of the minds of Wonderbill’s frontline staff.


Systems

One of the most interesting findings was the breadth and diversity of ways people managed their bills, from old-school diaries, innovative phone-based checklists, to spreadsheets and filing systems of baroque complexity. These also seemed to correspond to our persona types and overall engagement with bill-paying behaviour, and seemed symptomatic of their underlying characters, complimenting their . We decided it would be worthwhile to recreate these systems and so set up a photo-shoot of each of these systems in context, which also allowed us an opportunity to embellish the characters we had created.

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System 1

Outcome

We created five personas and one anti-persona in total, designed on an A0 to inhabit the walls of Wonderbill’s Canary Wharf Office, and smaller A4 ones for use in presentations and handy printouts.

They were very well received both by the client and the board of , (who inquired where they got them made) and have had a direct impact on how the product has been marketed.

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