Design Thinking Toolbox – Empathy Mapping

There are a couple of different ways you can approach your customer journey map. There’s a starter approach and a more scientific approach. The way you map or the way it looks doesn’t matter because the important part is you’re doing it. 

Customer journey map must-haves

Great – act on them and delight your customers.

Get your toolbox ready

Grab your user/customer persona

Find as much information you have about your customers: testimonials, reviews, social media comments, and complaints. You can even ask or poll on social media. Some companies interview customers about their journey.

If you have a customer persona or ideal customer profile, use it. (If not, you should have one and I can help.) You can even ask or poll on social media. Some companies interview customers about their journey.

  • Tip: The “A day in the life of your customer” exercise in the customer journey map (link/anchor text) free downloadable is very useful in creating a detailed picture of your ideal customer and what they grapple with every day. It allows you to show empathy more effectively and make better decisions.

Identify customer touchpoints

The stages of the brand journey where your customer reaches out and interacts with your brand. For example, asks a question, signs up for a newsletter or makes a complaint. The customer creates the touchpoint, not you.

Identify customer channels

The places our customers interact with your business. Note: channels are not always two ways, a billboard or print ad for example. What is your customer doing when they are interacting with your business? Are they opening your email, scrolling by your ad, walking in the door, or listening for more?

  • Social media
  • Online advertising
  • Digital marketing content
  • Website
  • Company events
  • Peer referral
  • Conversations with company representatives
  • Product catalogues
  • Ecommerce
  • Bricks and mortar store
  • Product reviews
  • Point of sale
  • Thank you letters
  • Product feedback surveys
  • Upsell/cross-sell emails
  • Billing actions
  • Subscription renewals
  • Customer support channels
  • Customer success programs
  • Customer onboarding
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Self-service resources

Some examples of customer touchpoints and channels

Build an empathy map using your persona and customer data

An empathy map is the first stage in any design process and it explores how your customer feels during each interaction with your brand. 

You place yourself in the shoes of your customer, walk in their world, experience their feelings without judgement and note them down.

  • Empathy maps allow us to collaborate and group what we know about a particular customer or customer group so everyone in our business has a better understanding of our customer needs, and enables better decision making
  • Feelings are usually mapped into four quadrants: what your customer will think, do, hear and say at any touchpoint or channel. Explore each touchpoint and channel carefully, using your customer’s perspective.
The “Says” quadrant
  • I am confused by what I need to do now
  • I am relieved I’ve found help
  • I want something to fix the problem

The Says quadrant: information your customers say out loud in an interview or some other form of feedback. Usually, they are direct quotes:

The “Thinks” Quadrant

The Thinks quadrant: what your customer is thinking during the journey. Use your data to ask yourself about your customers’ thoughts. It’s possible to have the same things in the Says and Thinks quadrants but pay careful attention to things they aren’t willing to say. Are there points in the journey your customers find unsettling but unwilling to talk about because they feel insecure or impolite?

  • Why don’t I understand this?
  • Why is this so confusing?
The “Does” Quadrant

The Does quadrant: captures the actions your customer takes. Using the research, what does the user physically do? How does the user go about doing it?

  • Bounces away from your website
  • Unsubscribes from your email
  • Signs up for a discovery call
The “Feels” Quadrant

The Feels quadrant: the customer’s emotional state stated as an adjective with a short sentence. Ask yourself: what worries them? What gets them excited? How does the customer feel about the experience?

  • Confused: too many choices
  • Impatient: cannot navigate the website easily
  • Worried: not convinced your solution is the right one

Draw your customer journey

How you do this is up to you and your imagination. It could be a timeline map or other graphical representation.

We need to show:

  • your customer moving through the touchpoints and channels, and 
  • how the customer feels about each interaction on the journey
  • be sure to include the outcomes of your empathy map

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