What is it & Why Do It?

Customer Empathy Maps are another way to see the world through your customer's eyes. It’s a great tool for putting yourself in their shoes and thinking more holistically about the problems you are trying to solve in their lives. It enables you to think through contextual information about your researched user base as well as emotional and sensory stimulus that surround them. Empathy Maps challenge you to think about what your customer sees and hears, how they think and feel, as well as what they say and do.

Empathy Maps can offer new insight into your customer environment and how this might affect your product decisions, marketing messages and business strategy. Ideally this exercise will be done after the creation of Personas and act as an extension to your customer discovery process.

Who’s Involved & What’s The Setup?

Empathy Maps can be created alone or as a small group. Involving people across disciplines is a great way to share insight and increase customer understanding. Allow for around 30-40 minutes for each customer type with group discussion. After their creation make sure they are distributed throughout the rest of the team for maximum visibility.


Step-by-step Guide

  • Research using qualitative and quantitative methods your target customers. This can be through internet research, surveys, interviews and observational studies.

  • Cluster your findings into particular persona groups. This will indicate how many customer types you will be creating. Consolidate this research and condense down into patterns and recurring themes per persona type.

  • To create your Empathy Map start by focusing on one of your customer types. In the centre of the map draw or use a photo of the persona you are exploring and add in a fictional name.
  • Start with how they think and feel. From your research extrapolate the main areas that your persona thinks and feels around the particular jobs that your product or service offers. What positive or negative thoughts do they have about the particular subject and how does this make them feel? Try and put yourself in their shoes and imagine what would be going through their mind.
  • Next, what does your user say and do? What are their current attitudes, behaviours and solutions to the issues you researched? Extracting this information and contrasting it with how they actually feel about something can expose some really interesting juxtapositions for you to leverage.
  • What does your customer hear regarding similar products or services? What do they hear from work mates, friends or family? From what she knows, how does what she hears affect the decisions she makes? Also, what is the physical environment that they are surrounded by? Is it noisy? Quiet? External input can have a greater effect on our decisions than we sometimes want to believe.
  • What does your customer see? What solutions have they already seen? And what is the environment look like they are surrounded by when making decisions or interacting with a product/service? Understanding their physical context helps get into the mind of your users.
  • What are the pains they feel in their daily lives when trying to get their goals/jobs done? What are the recurring emotions and situations you have observed throughout your research?
  • Lastly, what are the gains associated with this job being complete? What positive emotions and outcomes happen when using your product or service?
  • Repeat this process if you have multiple personas/customers. Don’t forget to share this around the team! Refer to and update your Empathy Maps regularly as you develop a deeper understanding of your customers as you continually learn from feedback.

Takeaways

  • Empathy Maps are a really useful tool for understanding your customer's context that goes beyond a standard persona type.

  • They help us think holistically about their emotions and contextual sensory information that surround their daily lives.

  • They give us a human-centered perspective to evaluate our customers and help us produce something that will actually serve their needs, physically and emotionally.

  • Empathy Maps are a great start but your knowledge of your customers never stops evolving. Continue to develop your Empathy Maps to reflect your understanding.

  • Distribute around your team or company to increase customer empathy. It doesn’t matter if you work in engineering or you’re the CEO, getting to grips with these basic human needs and behaviours will do wonders for your product.

Download the Empathy Map template