As a successful business owner, you know the customer is the boss.  Always.  That’s why you work hard to exceed your customers’ expectations by staying hyper-focused on their needs, desires, experience, and pain points as it relates to your product or service.  This customer-centric focus allows you to make necessary changes that keep them coming back year after year.  There are many ways of doing this but a powerful tool created by Dave Gray called the Empathy Map is an impactful way to reveal deeper customer insights and involve your whole team in developing the user story.  I personally use this tool when I’m brainstorming with my associates to develop the customer journey because the more we know about the “boss”, the better prepared we are to exceed customer expectations.

Here’s a sample Empathy Map template:

Empathy Map Template

Empathy Map Template

Conducting an Empathy Map Session:

Gather your team and have them bring any data and insights about the specific customer segment you are targeting with your empathy map.  Print out or sketch the empathy map template on a large piece of paper or whiteboard.  Give each team member a pad of post-it notes and a pen.  Ask them to add at least one sticky note for each section of the template using the data and insights they have or were provided.  As the leader, facilitate the session by asking questions, such as:

  • What would the user be thinking & feeling? What are some of their worries and aspirations?
  • What would their friends, colleagues, and boss be likely to say while the user is using our product? What would the user hear in these scenarios?
  • What would the user see while using our product in their environment?
  • What might the user be saying and/or doing while using our product? How would that change in a public or private setting?
  • What are some of the user’s pain points or fears when using our product?
  • What gains might the user experience when using our product?

Have the team members discuss their ideas on the sticky notes as they place them on the empathy map.  Based on their ideas, ask additional questions to reach deeper insights so the rest of the team can elaborate and build on them.  At the end of the session, ask the team members what insights they learned.  Use these new insights to write some of the customer characteristics on the face in the middle of the Empathy map.  (ie. Tired Mom – looking for quick and easy meal solutions for her family).  Finish the session by asking the team what hypotheses they now have about the customer segment that they’d like to validate with new/enhanced products and services.

When to use an Empathy Map:

Empathy maps can be used whenever you find a need to immerse yourself in a user’s environment. They can be helpful, for example, when:

  • capturing customer behaviors and mindsets
  • building out the “user” in your user story (for integration into the customer journey)
  • elaborating on user personas
  • diving into detailed specifics of each customer segment

That’s an Empathy Map, in a nutshell, and it’s an agile management business tool that has gained a lot of momentum in recent years.  I hope you enjoy using this simple but powerful tool to better understand your customers so you can drive improved engagement and satisfaction.  This is still one of my personal favorites and I hope you find it insightful and helpful as well.  Wishing you much success and many happy bosses!

Andrea Cadelli

Andrea is a speaker, author, and storytelling expert. She loves helping you embrace your authentic voice and make an impact with your message. Through the power of story and the art of storytelling, she helps you ignite emotions, inspire change, and influence results. Follow her and unleash the power of your story.

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