Templates Updated on: 23 September 2019

Create a Customer Empathy Map in 6 Easy Steps!

Customer Empathy Map Template


Identifying your target audience is often the first step when defining a marketing strategy. It will help you create a coherent, cost-effective and targeted marketing campaign that will speak to your customers.

But once you’ve attracted those ideal customers, how do you turn them into loyal customers? In a competitive environment, research suggests that the customer experience is the new battleground.

“89% of businesses will be expected to compete mainly on customer experience, and organizations that take customer experience seriously will stand out from the noise and win loyal customers,” according to a recent Gartner Marketing Survey.

If you want to create a memorable experience for your customers you need to dig a little deeper into who your customer is and what they want. You need to get into your customers head and consider who they are influenced by, what their pain points are, and their goals and challenges. Then use that information to create a product that blows them away!

One of the most popular ways to extrapolate this information and begin improving your customers experience is by using a Customer Empathy Map.

“When we become empathetic for our customers, we start to produce better services and products for them, enhancing their perception of our brand and services.”

German Coppola

Customer In Store Empathy

Who is my Ideal Customer?

If you haven’t yet defined your ideal customer, you can start by using a Customer Persona template. It’s important to have basic information about your ideal customer in order to complete a Customer Empathy Map.

By digging deeper into your ideal customer, you will be able to:

  • Get a complete overview of your target audience
  • Align all marketing campaigns and strategies
  • Gain a better understanding of which channels to focus on
  • Map out a visual representation that is easy to share with your team
  • Stay competitive by impressing your customers with an incredible product that meets their needs

What is a Customer Empathy Map?

A Customer Empathy Map is a tool used when collecting data about customers to better understand your target customer base. They allow you to visualize customer needs, condense customer data into a clear, simple chart, and help you see what customers want — not what you think they want. By following this map, you can systematically find answers, without playing a guessing game.

When we look at empathy from a marketing perspective, we’re talking about putting ourselves into our customers shoes, to be able to understand their needs and wants better. And thus, deliver a product or service that not only meets but exceeds their expectations!

There are six key steps in a Customer Empathy Map that will allow you to collect important information about your ideal customer to be able to really understand them. The six different components you’ll consider are:

  1. What the customer thinks and feels
  2. What the customer hears
  3. What the customer sees
  4. What the customer says and does
  5. The customer’s pains
  6. The customer’s gains

So let’s jump right in, and find out more about the Customer Empathy Map.

1. What your customer thinks and feels

This section mainly focuses on the customer’s emotions and feelings.  You want to find out what really matters to the customer, what are their major concerns?

How do they react to certain things, and are they are happy with your service or product? 

What other thoughts and behaviours contribute to their spending habits?

2. What do your customers hear?

Here, you need to identify who or what is influencing your customers.

Who are they listening to and getting their advice from? Are they influenced by family and friends or do they trust the media and advertising more?

You also need to focus on how and where they get their information: through which channels or means. Are they using social media, certain blogs, watching TV news, or reading magazines and newspapers? This will be very important when you come to choosing where to focus your advertising budget.

3. What does your customer see?

Within this part of your map, you want to assess what is happening in the market. What are other competitors doing? Do they see a change or a shift in the industry?

Also, what are their friends doing and using?

You can also ask your team to provide more details on what problems your ideal customer is exposed to on a daily basis and what exactly is in their environment.

All this information is valuable to understand their external influences, how is this affecting them, or how will this affect their purchasing behaviors. You can then use this to be proactive in creating products that solve a problem they foresee.

4. What does your ideal customer say and do?

What are they actually saying in public about us or to us, and what do we wish they were saying? 

Are the things they say accurate, or based on external influences and brand gossip?

You should be able to understand these behaviors and map out a clear strategy to make a shift in their performance. Then educate and help them to buy a specific product or service by adding value.

From there, you will be able to further understand if their words match their actions and what really matters to them. Frequently people do one thing and say another, especially if they are not informed accurately about the industry. 

If you have them, you can place direct customer quotes in this section.

The final two sections, pains and gains, are optional but certainly beneficial.

5. What are your customer’s pains?

The pains section is where you want to find out what are their fears, frustrations, and the obstacles they need to overcome. You can then use this information to find out what is stopping them reach their goals and desires, such as roadblocks or challenges. 

6. What are your customer’s gains?

In the gains section, you should include information regarding your target customers success, and how they obtained it. This will also include their goals, wants, and needs; what exactly makes them happy on an everyday basis.

Customer Empathy Map Coffee

When should I use an Empathy Map?

While Customer Empathy Maps can be built on existing knowledge or stakeholder feedback, they work best when they are based on real data. Therefore, they should be made after customer research such as interviews or customer satisfaction surveys are completed.

An Empathy Map is best used at the start of a new project, or when redesigning a new product, service or even a website.

While you can complete it alone if you work for yourself, it is a very beneficial activity to collaborate on in teams. That way everyone involved will benefit from understanding your customer better. Simply invite each team member to the board, then during the session, encourage everyone to add at least one sticky note in each quadrant based on their customer knowledge or experience.

Using your creative thinking for this map builds empathy for your customers, and will ultimately improve your customer service and user experience. If you’re ready to get started on your own Customer Empathy Map, you can access our free template by clicking on the image below.

Customer Empathy Map Template

If you’d like to learn more about your customers, don’t forget to take a look at our free Customer Persona template. Or if you are looking to improve you or your teams productivity, check out one of most popular articles about setting SMART goals.


11 thoughts on “Create a Customer Empathy Map in 6 Easy Steps!

  1. Really Amazing! It is such a brilliant idea to create a customer empathy map to collect your valued customer’s data in an organized manner. Thanks for sharing a great article.

  2. I enjoyed this article, It’s a deeper dive on Empathy mapping.
    I like to use visuals as well as a counterbalance to all the text.

  3. Thanks for sharing this first part of Design Thinking approach. I work in area of eGovernance and trying to use Design Thinking to design government services for its citizens.

    1. Thank you for the great review, David! We’re happy you like the use of diagrams/maps. Thank you again for using Conceptboard.

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