5 Simple Steps to Create a Customer Empathy Map

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5 Simple Steps to Create a Customer Empathy Map

Posted on September 25, 2018 by Denny Leffel

Consumers today are more educated about their shopping and dining activities thanks to websites that let people share their opinions. Restaurants and retailers can be significantly affected by this word of mouth. Bad reviews mean you’re not making a connection with your potential customers because you’re overlooking their needs and desires. And you’re losing the opportunity to get them into your establishment and spend their discretionary dollars with you.

Instituting a customer empathy map goes a long way toward helping you increase your sales and generating return visits. The following are five simple steps for creating a customer empathy map that helps you better.

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What Is a Customer Empathy Map?

A customer empathy map is a tool that helps you get a better idea of what goes on in the mind of your customers. It provides insight into how they think, feel, and react to your business. And it’s beneficial for your business in that it prevents bias, assumptions, and preconceived perceptions from becoming ingrained.

The map itself presents a series of questions you should ask any time you want to get a feel for how, why, and when a customer interacts with your merchandise or menu. Start by drawing a simple diagram on a whiteboard with the customer in the center and these four motivators surrounding it:

  • See
  • Think and feel
  • Say and do
  • Hear

Underneath the image put motivators such as pleasure or pain. Now that you’ve drawn out the image, you need to create rationale behind the motivators. These are your steps for creating your empathy map.


1. See

This is the first thing customers do when viewing a menu or merchandise. They visualize the item before they do anything else with it. In a restaurant setting, customers build their visual and taste experiences on what they see and read in the menu. If they’re shopping for merchandise, they visualize how the item fits within their lifestyle or how it fits them. You need to create presentations for the customer and enable them to see the offering in one form or another.

2. Think and feel

Once customers have what they want to eat or buy, they then start to determine how it affects them and how useful it will be to them at that moment or down the road. This is the crucial moment to connect with your customer. If you know how they feel about what you’re offering, you have an easier time getting the customer to make the order or sale. A customer relationship is born at this point, and the potential is there for that relationship to be long-term.

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3. Say and do

Understanding how your customers interact with others helps you increase the potential for new customers through word of mouth. Customers that are expansive with their thoughts and feelings are far more likely to spread the word about your business than customers that are tight-lipped and keep their thoughts to themselves. But how do you determine who is likely to perform these behaviors?
Market research plays the strongest role in this part of the customer empathy map. Get feedback from your users by asking them questions that relate to how they feel about your dining establishment or the offerings of the retail store. Use those responses to identify the groups that are most likely to talk about your product to others.

4. Hear

People listen as well as talk, and listeners can be persuaded to visit a restaurant or store after listening to someone else’s description. But not everyone is easily persuaded by just anyone’s opinion. Instead, they take advice from trusted sources such as family members, close friends, and co-workers. You need to get into your customers’ minds and figure out what makes them tick. This isn’t always easy, but a customer empathy map helps you get deeper insight into why a reluctant customer needed more convincing to come to your place of operation.

5. Pain and Gain


Ask yourself how easy it is for a customer to buy or order from you. Is your menu clearly written, or is your store laid out in a logical manner, resulting in gain? Or is the opposite of these true, resulting in pain? Testing the customer’s experience with your menu or store layout helps identify these areas of pain or gain, giving you an idea of where and how to improve things so users experience nothing but gain and almost no pain.

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