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The importance of empathy maps

publico alvo

Describe your typical customer.

Where did start? Age, gender, localization? Socioeconomic level? Demographics alone will not define your audience. If you don’t know your target well, your strategy will crumble.

Your customers are real people with real life needs. More than products and services, they are looking for experiences and feelings. Even if your business is all about nuts and bolts, your customers have a feeling in mind when they go out looking for your products: safety.

To get to know your customers you have to get in their shoes, and the best way to do it is with an empathy map.

empathy maps

What is an empathy map?

Designed by David Gray, the purpose of the empathy map is to understand clients and create a better experience for them. The concept it presents was so successful that it was included in Stanford’s programs and was highly referenced in the Harvard Business review.

An empathy map is what makes a persona into a character. Any good hero in a good narrative is more than an athletic individual expert in martial arts, guns, tactical driving and a master of seduction. Even James Bond became human, eventually. Those are his skills, not his motives.

A well rounded character has flaws, qualities, a philosophy and a communication style, goals and ways to reach them. The empathy map gathers information that goes beyond the general features and provides your personas with, well, personality.

The keyword is empathy. If when defining the persona we look at the client from the outside in, with the empathy map we look at the world through the client’s perspective. His own, not yours. Understanding how your clients look at the world and what are their expectations will help improve your products and services, and how you communicate with them.

How to draw you empathy map

The empathy map is divided in four major areas:

  • Who is the target and does he need: who is our consumer, what kind of situation is he in, how much control does he have over it? What decisions does he have to make, what does he need to do and how does he do it?
  • what do they see: in the market, in their close environment, in their peers behaviour, where do they gather their intelligence? Who do they listen to: their friends, acquaintances, strangers?
  • what are they saying themselves or what could they say?
  • what do they do and how? What is their behaviour? Which channels do they use?

The cherry on top of this cake of knowledge is in the following questions, the whole reason of being of this map:

  • What do they think or feel?
  • What do they fear, what leaves them frustrated, what are their difficulties? What are their needs, hopes and dreams?
david gray

Reading the map is easy:

After we learn all this about our hero/customer, and realize what it is trying to achieve, we understand what it needs to do.

Looking at the world through their perspective, grasp the way they communicate and act, hear what they hear, will put you under their skin and have be more comprehensive over their experience.

What they think and feel is the core of this map. If you understand what makes your customers tick you’ll know how provide a better service and communicate with them.

How to fill in the empathy map

This is the fun part:

  • interviewing users;
  • analyzing their reactions in social networks and other online forums where they present their opinions;
  • email queries or live one on one questionnaires;
  • analyzing how they behave in your store, digital and IRL;
  • eavesdropping (legally, of course).

Learning what moves your customers and how they act will help you design more effective communication and conversion processes.

We know what moves your business. Find your empathy with us.

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