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The Empathy Map and entrepreneurship

By Samantha Garner | March 9, 2019

empathy map

(Click the image to zoom in)

We use the term empathy in business to reflect our understanding of our customers – who they are, what they like and don’t like, what motivates them to buy something or not, and what pains we can solve for them.

Why is empathy important in business?

When we show empathy for our customers, we understand them from their perspective and, as business owners, we produce better services and products for them. Having empathy allows us to understand what needs our customers have (pains) and helps us estimate the value our products or services will create for our customers (gains).

Many small business owners get too focused on solving a particular problem that’s important to them, but maybe not to their customers. This is why developing an Empathy Map is so critical when designing or launching a new venture. You will be able to identify insights about your potential customers that you did not know were there. You’ll be able to make products or services that stick by taking the time to understand your customer, and developing empathy for them.

The Empathy Map and entrepreneurship

The Empathy Map, shown above, was created by David Grey, of XPLANE and author of The Connected Company and Gamestorming. This tool has been used by millions of small business owners and their teams to develop deep, shared understanding and empathy for their customers.

1. Start with the Goal section, by defining who will be the subject of the Empathy Map and what you want them to do. This should be framed in terms of new and observable behaviour.

2. Once you have clarified the goal, work your way clockwise around the canvas, until you have covered See, Say, Do, and Hear. The reason for this is that the process of focusing on observable phenomena (things that they see, say, do and hear) is like walking a mile in your customer’s shoes. It gives us a chance to imagine what their experiences might be like, to give us a sense of what it “feels like to be them.”

3. Only after you have made the circuit of outside elements do you focus on what’s going on inside your customer’s head. The large head in the centre is one of the most important aspects of the map’s design. The whole idea is to imagine what it’s like to be inside someone else’s head.

For more about the Empathy Map and how it can help your small business, check out Class 3 of our 100 Essential Small Business SkillsTM program!

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