Customer Empathy Map: the tool for in-depth customer insights

Good marketing not only focuses on your own product, but also on your customers. Hard facts such as age, gender and profession are relevant. But not only that.

Those who know how potential customers think and feel can better understand their actions – and thus modify their own offerings accordingly. This contributes to sustainable customer satisfaction. This is where the Customer Empathy Map comes in.

In this article you can read about the advantages of this tool and how you can use it for customer intelligence in your company.

Customer Empathy Map:
Sketching the emotional world of potential customers

The Customer Empathy Map is a useful tool to lay the foundation for customer-centric marketing. But even those who have relied on customer centricity in their own company for some time can use a customer empathy map to sharpen their view of customers even further. In short, the tool can be used both with prior knowledge and without further know-how in the area of customer centricity.

But what exactly is a map like this all about? The Customer Empathy Map is usually produced in a workshop. It is a physical product that is created in an interactive creative process – often during a joint brainstorming session. As with numerous agile methods, such as design thinking, the workshop participants work with Post-its and a poster in A1 or A0 format. This shows the customer empathy card with its six different segments.

The aim is to get fully involved with the customer and get to know his environment and his emotional world – two things that influence each other. The customer empathy card thus tries to fathom the perceptions, actions, motivations and needs of (potential) customers. In this way she distances herself from the rational choice approach and the assumption that people always act rationally. Instead, the Customer Empathy Map succeeds in mapping the connection between life reality and personal motivation.

Full customer insights:
What the Customer Empathy Map can do

Those who develop empathy for their customers and understand the background of their trade can focus their own offerings even more on the needs of the target group. The Customer Empathy Map helps to get a feeling for the attitudes and actions of potential customers and to visualize the whole thing.

So you could say that the customer empathy map goes one step further than the persona does. While a buyer persona first gives the target group a face – a personality – the customer empathy map plunges even deeper. It illuminates the environment and the emotions of customers.

By creating a Customer Empathy Map, prospective customers get more contour. This enables companies to gain a deep understanding of their customers. This has a tangible and practical benefit: Because in such a way new channels open up occasionally, which play on the own enterprise – and so to more customer satisfaction to contribute can. A lasting guarantee of success.

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Making a customer empathy card is less about making assumptions about what the customer thinks. Rather, the aim of the Customer Empathy Map is to show what influences a prospective customer is exposed to and how these may influence his actions and (buying) behavior.

At a glance:
What the Customer Empathy Map can do - and what not

Customer Empathy Map

How can the customer empathy card be used?

The Customer Empathy Map can be created in two different ways in order to get to know the feelings of the customers better. The best possible understanding of the customer is achieved by combining the two areas of application – it’s worth it, but it takes a lot of time and effort.

No matter how: It makes sense to create a map in the context of a workshop. A manageable number of participants guarantees that everyone can work in a focused manner. The person who leads the workshop should already be familiar with the Customer Empathy Map and always keep an eye on the objectives. If necessary – if the workshop participants get lost in details – the leader can also lead back to the topic.


Enthusiasm and customer benefit from the point of view of the company

The easiest way to edit the customer empathy card is the internal company perspective. Since the focus is on customer centricity, it makes sense to select the workshop participants accordingly. Employees from the sales and marketing departments are often in contact with customers and gain insights into the reality of their customers’ lives. Also in the boat should be also the management.

In the Customer Empathy Workshop, the participants then brainstorm proposals for the various fields. Here they can draw on experiences and reports that have come to light in discussions with customers. It is also possible to draw up hypotheses – but these should be in the range of the probable and the obvious.


Focus on real customer experience: Market research at its best

Only the persons concerned have a real insight into the life of the customers. Therefore, it makes sense to hold another workshop in which selected customers belong to the circle of participants. The advantage: The Customer Empathy Map is as authentic as an imaginary persona will never be. The disadvantage: Such workshops are particularly time- and resource-intensive.

It is also not always easy to find customers who are willing to participate. Depending on the business area, further challenges can also be associated with this type of card processing. Internationally active online shops probably find it much more difficult to recruit volunteers than a medium-sized construction company. But here, too, the aim is to win customers for one’s own cause and discard the character of an “experimental set-up in chemistry class”.


Compare both cards - and take Learnings with you

Companies that process the Customer Empathy Map both internally and externally reach a true milestone. Because now both results can be put in relation to each other. And this ensures learning of a special kind. On the one hand, companies gain an authentic insight into the feelings, motivations and wishes of their customers.

On the other hand, there is the possibility of uncovering discrepancies between hypotheses on customer satisfaction and true customer satisfaction. Those who take a reflective approach get a feeling for their own understanding of the customer:

  • Where do we assess our clients in exactly the right way?
  • Where were we completely wrong?
  • How can we get even better involved with interested parties?


A thorough reflection of the results ensures the development of profound customer intelligence. But how exactly does the practical implementation of an Empathy Map look like and how are the individual segments of the map composed?

The Customer Empathy Map in detail: This is how the practical implementation succeeds

With the help of the empathy card it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of the customer. The focus is not only on the wishes and feelings of the customer or a persona, but also on external influences. Therefore, six different segments are provided for the processing of the map. It makes sense to work through the Empathy Map from the obvious to the more complex – or from external influences to the emotional world.

Segment 1 - Visual perception

What does the customer see?

The first segment aims to find out what visual impressions the customer or buyer persona is exposed to. What does the customer see? What is he confronted with on a daily basis? Such questions help to fill in segment 1. In the B2B sector, it makes sense to also deal with competitors: Which competitors does he/she see?

Segment 2 - Trading

What does the customer say and do?

Segment 2 describes how the characterized persona or customer behaves externally. It is important at this point that action does not necessarily have to agree with thinking. Who develops for this a feeling, can understand the actions of its customers better. Things, which can be held in the segment 2, are point of view, behavior (- remarkable things), appearance and Habitus.

Segment 3 - Listening

What does the customer hear?

The same applies to auditory perception. In other words, what does the customer hear? These can be very different things:

  • Construction site noise at the large construction site opposite
  • Statements and opinions in the family environment
  • News and media content


This segment is also trying to find out more about the customer environment.

Segment 4 - Thinking and Feeling

What does the customer think and feel?

Segment 4 focuses on all the thoughts and feelings of potential customers or a buyer persona. In general, it is therefore a matter of thinking oneself into the prospective customer and also of working out all the things that are going on in the background. Those who work with “real” customers should keep in mind that nobody completely turns their inside out. The following questions help to fill this segment:

  • What really counts for him/her?
  • What occupies him/her?
  • What does he/she ponder at night?


What worries and desires does he/she have?

Segment 5 - Pain points

Those who have worked on segments 1 to 4 will gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s sore points. These are outlined in segment 5: What fears and frustrations are there in the customer’s life? Is he faced with obstacles – if so, which ones?

Segment 6 - Gain and positives

Everything that the customer books as positive is finally recorded in the sixth segment. What does success look like for him/her? What does he/she really want to achieve? What strategies does the customer use to achieve benefits? What about his or her enthusiasm?

More Customer Intelligence with the Customer Empathy Card

With the help of the six completed segments, it is possible to depict the reality of a customer’s life in its entirety. Those who have created buyer personas in advance now have the opportunity to attribute certain characteristics, motifs and needs to the characters. The findings now form the basis for further action: How can you improve your own portfolio of products and services in terms of customer benefit and customer satisfaction? Where are there potential (additional) touchpoints in the Customer Journey?

In the B2C area, the Customer Empathy Map appears to be particularly tangible. Based on the results obtained from the map, it is now easy to cluster specific customer groups with different life realities and needs. But the use of the Empathy Map is also worthwhile in the B2B environment: Buyers, managing directors or contact persons from the buying center are also exposed to various external influences that influence their thinking and actions.


About Me

As a growth marketing expert and customer developer, I experience every day how important a customer-centric corporate culture is. 

In combination with agile testing and optimization processes, you will bring your growth fully on course.


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