Customer Experience and Design

Empathy Mapping: The Key to Identifying Real Problems & Solutions

The prolific Seth Godin, just published a blog post about data, that could really be applied to just about any new shiny object in the digital world. We always think that it will solve our problem whether that problem is customer satisfaction scores, dropping lead generation, or the rising shopping cart abandonment rate. We think if we can add more software to automate something, give more data, or make our pages load faster that it will automatically solve all our problems.
Most often however, the problem is that we haven’t yet done the basic block and tackling of understanding our customer enough to get out ahead of their need. Instead we’re waiting for them to tell us what they want or how they want it or when they want it. In other words, we’re waiting for them to help us—rather than doing the basic work of understanding them.

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When asked how he knew what to do next while building what would become the world’s largest retailer, Sam Walton said, “I go to the store and talk to the customer.” And he wasn’t talking about going and taking orders, he was talking about understanding his customer by gathering insights.
As CX strategists, we’ve created a more formal process for understanding customers that doesn’t involve any software at all, but is one of the primary building blocks of digital success: Empathy Mapping.
It’s basically about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Choose a segment of your customers, use any of the empathy mapping exercises out there, and challenge your team to do an empathy map of that customer.

Once they’re done, ask them to find a customer from that segment to review their empathy map. Any points of misalignment between what your team said and what your customer said should be your first step in improving your customer experience.
Then you can start worrying about software acquisition.

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