empathy mapPopular in the business world, an empathy map is a simple tool that is used to put those working for a company in the shoes of their customers or business partners. This exercise allows businesses to better analyze the wants and needs of their colleagues, and hopefully in the process uncover a previously unseen or unnoticed way to improve a product or service. It is a very simplistic way to bring down potential hurdles and in the process, businesses are better able to please their customers and partners.

Today we will talk about the various aspects of the empathy map, including how to create one, how to use it, and what can be gained by its use. If you run a small business and are looking for some new ways to breathe some life into it, this article on online marketing tools may help, as will this course on small business success, taught by John Spence.

Why Use an Empathy Map?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the experiences and emotions of another person, and is simply a fancy way of saying “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes”. In business, especially business on a smaller scale, one of the goals they should be striving for is a personal relationship with their customers – to learn the basics of customer service, this course on its fundamentals will have you ready in no time. Just like when people are more likely to keep going back to the bar where their drink is ready for them before they sit down, or the doctor that calls them by name without checking the chart, people want to feel understood, and the empathy map does just that, but tailored for the business world. If used correctly, an empathy map goes against any kind of overanalyzing or overthinking that may take place in an office’s conference room, and puts you in your customer’s or partner’s shoes, and hopefully in the end, you will able to address issues you may have overlooked. The idea behind it is to throw yourself into their environment, and to think like them.

How to Create and Use an Empathy Map

Not only does the empathy map allow for some time to focus on the people that make your business tick (customers), but it also can help to bring your employees together with a bit of lighthearted brainstorming. To begin, we’ll show you how to create an empathy map, step-by-step.

  1. On a sheet of paper, large enough for everyone to see, or on a dry-erase board, draw a large square. Or, if you prefer, use this site to print one out.
  2. Next, divide the square into four even quadrants.
  3. Next, label the areas of the square, with the top four equal parts being: See, Hear, Think and Feel, Say and Do.
  4. Finally, place either a picture or draw a face in the middle of the four equal parts, representing the customer or partner.
  5. If you think this would be helpful, some empathy maps have two sections at the bottom of them, one labeled “Pain”, the other “Gain”. The Pain section represents negative aspects the customer may deal with, such as frustrations or obstacles, and the Gain section may ask questions such as “What do they truly desire”, and “What are they passionate about”.

After that, hand out Post-It Notes to everyone participating, and have them fill out questions that relate not only to the subject of the empathy map, but that can fit into one of the four parts. Each person should put a Post-It up in one of the quadrants, then everyone can discuss the question. For example, questions that may get posted in the Think and Feel part may include: “What is very important to them?”, “What motivates them?”, “What worries them?”, etc. Once you fill up the empathy map with the questions, then answer them, you should now have some new insights as to what your customer or partner wants and needs. This course on customer insight will help you grow your business by understanding exactly what it is they need.

Empathy maps provide a unique way to delve into the thoughts of those that you do business with, benefitting both your customers, by possibly getting them better service from you, as well as your employees, who not only get a better understanding of how their business works, but also beefing up their teamwork skills. Wondering how to build up a high-performing team in one day? This course on team building will help out.

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