Customer Empathy Mapping

Using Customer Empathy Mapping to Connect and Engage Teams

Alex Allwood ALEX ALLWOOD, Customer Empathy, Customer Experience, CX Management, CX Research, CX Strategy, EMPATHY, EMPATHY MAPPING

Getting a cross-functional team to come together, let alone work together for a common cause, such as customers and improving their CX, can be like herding cats. It can feel near impossible!

After all, team leaders will likely have many competing priorities, making them time poor. They already have a long list of their own departmental problems that need solving. Their end of month reporting is just around the corner and they’re jaded from participating in meeting after meeting. Add another meeting, and it’s likely to drive them to despair.

Getting team members to actively connect

In my customer experience consulting, working with leadership teams, I often come across the challenge of getting team members actively connected and engaged in the work of understanding customers and improving their experiences. I have found this problem is more common when working with non-customer facing teams. Simply put, many are disconnected from the level of frustration their customers are experiencing.

To deeply connect, individuals need to feel their customers’ experiences. Understanding from the customer’s perspective as if they’re living the experience too—this is customer empathy at work. In my experience, using empathy mapping is a transformational practice that gets teams connected and engaged.

Customer empathy mapping

Empathy mapping is an easy-to-use tool that helps employees focus their thinking on customers—enabling them to step out of their busy day-to-day business mindset and into the customer’s world to focus on the customer’s story.

Customer Empathy Mapping can be applied broadly and used, for example, to kick off a team meeting, start conversations to bring common understanding quickly to diverse employee groups and deliver shared employee experience for problem-solving.

Each time I use the practice of customer empathy mapping I am reminded of the power of this simple-to-use tool. For example, last week, working with a newly formed CX Governance Group, we kicked off the meeting with each team member mapping a recent customer interaction.

Customer Journey Mapping Courses Online

Customer perspective taking

Again, as I’ve experienced in many of these meetings, switching on customer empathy helps individuals to perspective take. What often transpires is a moment of clarity and understanding and I see the ‘light go on’ or that ahha moment!

Using the framework of the empathy map; what customers are doing, seeing, hearing and feeling, helps individuals reflect from the customer’s perspective. The practice acts as a breakpoint in being disconnected from the customer’s experience, thinking about CX from the business’s point of view or from making assumptions based on their own truth.

Customer storytelling

The customer story that is then shared is a very different narrative to what’s typically told. So much of our storytelling in customer experience management is through customer satisfaction scores. The score doesn’t tell the story of customer lives; their context, needs, goals and expectations. Scores don’t tell the story of the lived experience either. Importantly, the score doesn’t connect an individual with their customers emotionally.

Each member of the CX Governance Group shared their customer story from the customer empathy mapping. I saw them lean-in, actively listen, get curious and ask questions, and acknowledge their peers around the table with understanding.

This is what customer empathy at work looks like. Actively engaged and connected individuals who are working together to solve problems for the good of their customers and the growth of the business.