Empathy maps are an effective method of hearing, seeing, thinking and feeling what customers do.
Why do we need it?
It is the motivation behind the transaction that is the key to understanding customer behavior and needs. But how do you see what they see? One tool we often use, to hypothesise around different consumer motivations is to work with personas and empathy maps. These help us see our own business through our customer’s eyes.
Developing personas is not difficult. However, it’s important to develop personas based on realistic character traits, including regular problems which real people have. A persona is a fictional character with a purpose. Usually they are described as someone you can easily observe but who’s preferences and abilities are different from yours (and more like your actual customer’s). The goal is to have something that one can attach a name and picture to and perceive as believable. Perfect imaginary friends don’t help. Flaws, wrinkles, muffin tops do. Anchoring the personas in statistics, including socio-demographic and income indicators helps keep them real.
Usually the best way to experience what your customers go through is to experience their experience. The second best way is to use empathy maps, to see the world through their eyes. Empathy maps are an effective method of hearing, seeing, thinking and feeling what customers do. As a part of the empathy map, we’ll understand what ‘pain’ the persona will have to go through for the ‘gain’ of the service or product.
How to use it?
Empathy maps collect the views of the observable competition (see), peer pressure and general opinions (hear), decision points and articulated needs (think) and behaviour (do) of the customer. Pain and gain reflect the obstacles and motivation of the customer.
Combining empathy maps with personas allows us to view the world through different customer segment viewpoints, to understand potential motivation as well as the obstacles they face in completing their customer journey. Insight gained from this hypothetical process can then be easily validated through customer interviews as well as real-life observation.