What is an empathy mapping workshop?

What is an empathy mapping workshop?
Lotta Strand

Lotta Strand

The first step in design thinking: empathy mapping

What is an empathy map and how is it used?

In an earlier post, we established that design thinking is a creative problem solving method that is being employed by various types of companies the world over.  Idea Hunt embraces a five step process that begins with building empathy. A common method of compiling the research, feedback and understanding during this first phase of the design thinking process, is an empathy map.

And Empathy Map Is…

And empathy map is a series of quadrants, each designed to unlock various aspects of a problem. Often, each quadrant asks a question, pertaining to the customer or user experience.  Typically, empathy maps ask questions such as what does your customer see? What do they hear? And what do they feel? Other empathy maps are designed to gather information such as what does a user of this product think? What do they feel? What do they say? They are designed to identify pains and gains, or their goals.

Empathy maps are used to gain a better understanding of the customer or user experience for a particular subset of customers (sometimes called personas). At other times, empathy maps are used to determine the impact that a particular product or service will have upon your customers or their lives. And further still, at other times, they are used to uncover the reasons behind certain actions that are taken by your customers.

How do you use an empathy map?

And empathy map on its own, is a simple tool.  However, when used within the context of a well orchestrated workshop, and empathy map is a powerful tool that helps to make sense of large amounts of research and data that have previously been collected.

During the workshop, participants will organize or categorize the findings of a research project into various quadrants or categories.  The different phases of an empathy mapping workshop help to uncover or bring to light, important information about your customers. At the beginning of each phase, the presenter, in addition to asking the question, will provide a bit of context.

What do your Customers Say?

After reviewing the problem to be addressed by the workshop and the research collected on that problem or pain point, users are asked to compile the various data regarding conversations customers are having either about the problem or pain point, or the product designed to address it here.  These can be phrases that are actually recorded, or summarizations of conversations, interview question responses, etc.

What do they Do?

The actions that customers have taken or are taking can shed a lot of light on a problem and provide valuable insights.  In this quadrant, workshop participants are asked to compile these actions or inactions here. Are customers seeking solutions on their own? Are customers stuck dealing with a particular pain point?  Or, are they choosing a competitor’s product or service to meet their needs?

What do they Think?

Gathering your customer’s thoughts provides an invaluable window into the lives and desires of your customers.  Good research will reveal this type of data, but it can be hard to gather. Gathering customers thoughts can be a time intensive process.  Instructing your team to pay attention and watch for this type of data is important.

What do they Feel?

Feelings are strong motivators.  Uncovering the feelings that are driving the actions of your customers provides highly valuable insights that can inform your decisions, next steps, even your next products.  During the workshop phase when the facilitator is presenting the research findings, be sure to instruct your participants to identify these pieces of information and record them here.

How can I get started?

Now I encourage you to go and host an empathy map workshop on your own. It might feel overwhelming, but that is why we have created a ready made template for it. Our workshop tool makes sure you ask your participants all the right questions and get all the right ideas. Just head to ideahunt.io/template/empathy-map-workshop to read more about it and start your empathy map workshop today!

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