How to create empathy maps

By 2020, customer experience is expected to surpass product and pricing as the key differentiator for businesses1. To make sure you aren’t left behind you should take steps now to optimise CX through the power of empathy.

Empathising is a difficult skill to master, so using tools and processes to help you and your team can only be a good thing. To make it easier to empathise, create descriptions of them using customer personas and empathy maps.

We would recommend starting with customer personas as the process enables you to identify customer segments and lay the foundations of who your customers are.

After you have organised your customer’s personal details into customer personas, you can then move onto empathy mapping which focuses on the sensory and emotional information.

It is at this point that you can identify the real challenges your customer might face and how you can overcome obstacles to create a better CX.

What to include in your empathy map

Empathy maps vary in style and shape, but there are always at least four quadrants: Thinking, Seeing, Doing and Feeling.

Take a look from the visitors perspective

Depending on your business and the touchpoint scenario you’re assessing, you may also wish to include: Saying, Smelling, Hearing, and Influences.

At the side of your empathy map you may also want to look at the pains and gains for the customer persona. What challenges and obstacles might your customers face in the scenario?  What are the goals your customers hope to accomplish?

To help you create your empathy map with insightful ideas, put together a diverse (but relevant) team. Your empathy map team could compromise of stakeholders, customer support advisors or members of your sales team.

What information you need to create an empathy map

To make it easier to create your empathy map with your team, be prepared with examples of customer interactions, behaviours and opinions. These might include:

  • List of touchpoints
  • Customer personas
  • Survey results
  • Testimonials
  • Customer behaviour and actions from website analytics
  • Social media mentions, comments and likes
  • Customer interviews data
  • Customer logs
  • Review customer logs – what questions are they asking?

What to ask your team

Together in your team you should consider various scenarios, think about how your customer feels at each touchpoint and what influences this.

You could ask yourselves things such as: Have customers heard positive feedback about our company from external sources? What do they hope to gain from our service or product? Are there any words or phrases used repeatedly by customers to describe our brand?

To help your team think from a customer perspective you may even find it helpful to role play touchpoint scenarios and then feedback to the group. Get any of the ideas your team produces down on paper so you don’t miss out on any precious insights.

When all ideas and insights appear to be exhausted, organise your findings on your empathy map and then work as a team to analyse it. Have you identified any needs or new behaviours? Have you identified key “moments-of-truth”? Have any solutions appeared to increase positive purchasing decisions?

If you need help to develop your empathy mapping, then we would be more than happy to help. Give us a call on 01536 560 435.


  1. Forbes