You can use any size team to create an empathy map, though teams 10 – 20 are ideal. Ideally, the group is diverse to ensure everyone has a voice and perspective.

A template client empathy mapping template can help make the session more efficient. However, adapting the map to your session goal and persona is essential as needed.

It’s a Team Sport

An empathy map is an excellent tool for teams to use in the early stages of product development and to get in touch with what customers want. It’s like a simplified version of a user persona and can be used by teams from various departments, including marketing, sales, account management, and UX teams.

The goal of an empathy map is to visualize customer needs, condense them into a short chart, and help teams consider what customers want rather than what they think they should have. To help with this, the team should detach themselves from their personal experiences and biases. This can be done through a simple role-play exercise or a quick game-storming session.

Once the team has completed their empathy maps, reviewing the output together is essential. This will allow the team to identify key insights and understand what they’ve learned from the exercise. For example, if the team identified that the customer cares about safety, this could prompt them to highlight these features in their communications.

Additionally, if the team outlined any challenges, this may be an opportunity to look at what’s being done well and how to build on that success. Finally, the “thinks” and “says” sections should be unpacked with qualitative research and direct feedback from the user.

It’s a Learning Opportunity

Empathy maps are a great opportunity for teams to get in the mindset of their target audience and can help them make more customer-centric decisions. For example, suppose your team is developing macros or canned responses for common scenarios. In that case, empathy mapping can be used to ensure that the response matches the tone of voice and language of the persona you’re targeting.

An empathy map can also help examine less obvious user needs when done well. For instance, if your user is concerned about a price increase, this can prompt you to consider how other products or services could be offered at a more affordable rate.

For best results, pairing your empathy map with a user persona is recommended. This will give you a frame of reference and help the entire team understand who they’re working with. It’s also a good idea to have the whole team participate in creating the persona rather than just one individual (though this can be more time-consuming). As you move through the empathy mapping exercise, you may find that some sticky notes you’ve placed on the board start to group. Use this to discuss and align as a team, naming clusters and identifying themes. Once your empathy map is complete, hang it in a central location for your team to refer back to.

It’s a Culture Builder

An empathy map is an excellent tool for teams to align them with the customer and their pain points. It can also help the team extrapolate insights from the raw data gathered through customer interviews and contextual inquiries.

An empathy mapping session can be compelling, mainly if you use it at the beginning of your process before moving on to requirements and concepts. It will synthesize research observations and reveal deeper insights about your user’s needs that might not have been obvious when reviewing the data alone.

For best results, empathy maps should be run in a collaborative setting where people feel comfortable sharing their honest thoughts and feelings about the persona being mapped. It’s essential to have a facilitator or full-time owner overseeing the session and guiding throughout to prevent it from going awry. It’s a good idea to break up participants into smaller groups so that each person can focus on one target persona and make the mapping sessions more efficient.

Once the group has completed all the sections on the empathy map, they should take a few moments to reflect and discuss what they have learned from the exercise. Recording the conclusions and opinions on paper to be referenced later is a good idea. Hanging empathy maps in a common area is also a great way to expose the entire company to the personas and encourage an outside-in culture.

It’s a Competitive Advantage

Empathy mapping can provide a competitive advantage for professional services firms because it allows teams to see through their customer’s eyes and understand their challenges, wants, and needs. This helps teams better position themselves as a solution to their client’s problems and ultimately increase revenue, retention, and satisfaction.

The first step in empathy mapping is to define a specific persona. This is important as it ensures the map is based on real-world user information and experience. Next, please describe what the user does, sees, and says at each of their CX touchpoints. The “says” section should include what they verbally tell others about their experiences, and the “does” section should describe their actions to meet their objectives.

Once the map is complete, it’s time to review and identify insights. Be sure to document the resulting conclusions and ideas for future reference. For example, creating a designed poster version of the empathy map is an excellent way to expose the team to the results and reinforce the importance of client empathy in their work.

When conducting an empathy mapping session, splitting the team into small groups is essential to avoid over-extending the session and losing focus. This can be achieved using a tool a Web-based digital whiteboard that makes it easy for teams to collaborate on visual boards.


In conclusion, customer empathy mapping is an indispensable tool for achieving client-centric success in professional services. By delving into the needs, emotions, and experiences of clients, firms can gain a deeper understanding of their customers and tailor their services accordingly. This approach not only fosters stronger relationships with clients but also leads to improved satisfaction and loyalty. 


Kenny is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheTalka. He launched the site in 2019.

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