The first question on your mind is probably “what exactly is a customer empathy map?”, and rightly so. At its core, a customer empathy map is a process of getting to know your user base; what they want, need, think, and feel, for example. This makes it easier to design products or services that will be a hit with the intended market.

Customer empathy maps are usually divided into four main areas:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Things customers say
  • Customer actions

The aim of the game, so to speak, is to figure out how any given customer will think, feel, and react to any given marketing situation. The more you do this, the better you’ll know your customers, and the better you can serve them. It’s that easy!

Lots of businesses either don’t know about this customer engagement strategy or simply underutilize it. People often forget just how valuable taking the time to understand your current users can be, and lose out on potential sales in the process. Afterall, retaining customers is more profitable than acquiring new ones, so it’s best practice to keep the customers you already have happy.

So, how do you go about putting together a customer empathy map? Where should you even start?

Luckily, this article’s got everything you need to know about making the perfect empathy map for your business. Read on to get some step-by-step advice!

1. Set Goals

The first thing to do, as with any project, is to set up a schedule baseline. When do things need to be done? What are the targets you need to hit? When’s the final deadline?

Once that relatively boring aspect is out of the way, you now need to decide what your goals are for your customer empathy map.

The most important thing to think about -the reason you’re doing this in the first place - is how exactly will this map help you to personalize your customers’ experiences? How are you going to use it to make sure every single person who visits your page can find exactly what they are looking for and have an enjoyable time doing it?

The clue’s in the name: empathy.

You’re trying to put yourself in the shoes of your user base, to figure out how you can best cater to their customer needs.

So, sit down with your team and decide upon a set of goals or objectives for your customer empathy map, which will not only solidify your aspirations for this project but will also make the next step much easier.

2. Undertake Research

This is where it starts to get a bit technical.

Hopefully, you’ll have a researcher on your team who has a wealth of previous user data to fall back on, but you have to obtain fresh data as well.

Here are some types of research you might need to do:

  • User interviews
  • Case studies
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Quantitative analysis

Imagine that you own a company that sells a cloud phone system. Your research might involve interviewing users of cloud phone systems, case studies of people who were perhaps dissatisfied with their product, quantitative analysis of, say, VoIP cost over the last five years, and qualitative analysis of online customer reviews.

As always, you have to decide what’s best for your business. Meet with your team and think about what methods and practices will best suit your unique customer empathy map.

3. Empathy Mapping Sessions

Now the real work begins.

You’ve set the goals, you’ve done the research - but how do you actually make an empathy map?

Well, it’s not as hard as it may first appear. We’ve already talked about the four main areas to focus on, and here’s where that idea really comes to the fore. Some teams do it electronically, some teams write it out on a whiteboard and use sticky notes - it’s up to you as to what method is best for your business.

The key is to draw out those four main areas - what the customer thinks, feels, says, and does - and get people to contribute their ideas. What would a customer feel if your product went on sale? What would they do if the website crashed? What would they say to their friends about your brand?

Remember, at its heart customer empathy mapping is all about getting your customers to come back again and again. It’s much like positive reinforcement when you think about it. If your customers get the satisfaction of knowing they’re cared for and valued, they’ll return to your site and make more purchases.

Now, at this stage of the empathy mapping game, you’ll need to bring in some backup, usually in the form of a sitemap. Sitemaps are often used for SEO, but they have their place in the customer experience as well. Basically, sitemaps do what they say they do - they list every feature and page of your site.

How can you use sitemaps in regards to customer empathy mapping? Well, having a list of pages that customers will see on hand can be a huge asset to your customer empathy map. You can tailor your empathy map to your actual site, making it more efficient and increasing the chance that it will be of value. Win-win!

4. Evaluate and Publish

It’s time to implement the changes you’ve decided to make based on what your customer empathy map has suggested.

If all has gone well, you should start seeing results pretty quickly. But the work doesn’t stop there.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to update your customer feedback methods, so you can get real-time reviews on how your plan is working. Consider using a helpdesk ticketing system or similar software to help you sort through the reviews. Obviously, you’ll be hoping for positive feedback, but do pay attention as to what your users are asking you to change.

After all that, there’s nothing left to do but to evaluate. What went well with this project? What did you miss, or could do better next time? What new methods and techniques will you try in the future?

And hey, give yourself a pat on the back while you do. You’ve earned it!

Giving Your Customers the Feels

There you have it! Your very own step-by-step guide to creating the perfect customer empathy map.

Using this method to implement changes in the way you run your business is one of the best ways to truly connect with your customers. If this list wasn’t enough to convince you, try it out and see the results for yourself!

This is a guest post from Jenna Bunnell, Senior Manager for Content Marketing, Digital & Strategic Events at Dialpad.