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Developing deep insight into your Customers – XPLANE’s Empathy Maps

August 2, 2010 9 comments

OK, more thoughts on Alexander Osterwalder‘s new book Business Model Generation – see my previous related blog posts here and here.

The topic of this post is an innovative technique for developing a “deep” understanding of your customers – their environment, behavior, concerns, and aspirations – called the Empathy Map. The Empathy Map is presented by Osterwalder in his book, but was originally developed by Dave Gray at XPLANE .

Introducing the Empathy Map

Here’s a snapshot of what the Empathy Map looks like:

The Empathy Map is both a framework and a technique, and it’s typically developed collaboratively by a diverse team by placing sticky notes on a wall. If you’d like to download a template of this poster, you can do so here.

Developing a deeper understanding of your customers by understanding:

  • Who they are in their world
  • Where they spend their time
  • Who their friends are
  • Whose opinions influence them
  • What they SAY their deepest aspirations and beliefs are
  • What feelings and beliefs ACTUALLY guide their behavior

You get the idea. Also, pay special attention to potential conflicts between what a customer might say, and what they may truly think or feel.

Empathy Map in Action

The image below is an example Empathy Map taken from the Business Model Generation book that models the customer profile of a CIO.

The motivation, in this instance, for creating the CIO profile is to understand the key factors that weigh on their decision to renew Microsoft Office product licensing agreements.

The details are not so important, and they’re a bit hard to read, but the important points are:

  1. The value of formally modelling a customer’s beliefs and motivations in their world
  2. To assemble a diverse group of stakeholders to develop this profile of the customer
  3. And to use this profile to gain insight into new Value Propositions that speak to a customer’s most important problems, values, aspirations, beliefs.

Osterwalder has a nice blog post titled The Power of Immersion and Visual Thinking, where he describes a workshop he hosted with Dutch company JAM that led a group through the Empathy Map exercise. It’s a nice post.

In conclusion …

So that’s the Empathy Map – a simple and easy way to gain deeper insight into your customers to develop new value propositions and products and services.

glenn

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