Start your Hackathon engines: empathize with the customer

Everything starts with a good understanding of your customer. A deep dive into the mind of your customer is key to create value for them. In this stage we will explain how to get really inside the head of your customer by using an empathy map. 

What is an empathy map and why do you use it? 

An empathy map is a collaborative and simple tool for you and your team to really understand your customer. Empathy allows you to understand what needs your customers have. The map guides you in seven steps to connect emotionally with your customers and to understand their context.

How do you fill in the empathy map? 9 steps to connect with your customer. 

In the following part our Seth & Dunn coach Ruben Monsieurs explains to you how to connect with your customer in 9 steps.  

1. Download the empathy map

Print it as big as possible. You can also get creative and draw it yourself.  

2. WHO are you empathizing with?

Briefly define the customer you want to understand by listing some characteristics such as their role, the situation they are in and their age. 

3. What do they NEED to DO?

Describe the problem statement / target situation of your customer. What do they need to do differently? What are the jobs they want or need to get done? What decisions do they need to make? 

4. What do they SEE?

Find out there visual external stimuli. What do they see in their environment what can influence their behavior? What are they watching or reading? What do they see others doing?  

5. What do they SAY?

Express what you hear them say or what you can imagine them saying. How do they interact with other people in their environment? What are they complaining about towards others?  

6. What do they really DO?

Here you need to describe how they behave themselves towards others. Define what they really do on a day to day basis and not what they need to do. You should describe their actual behavior. 

7. What do they HEAR?

Find out their auditive external stimuli. What do they hear from friends and family? Colleagues? Or in the media?  

8. What do they THINK and FEEL?

Last but not least it is important to know what they fear, frustrates them, their anxieties are, they dream and what could make their jobs to be done more pleasant to execute. Describe their pains and gains to really understand what they think and feel. 

9. Put your empathy map against the wall of your hackathon working space.

Use it to challenge everything you do to keep in mind your customer.  

Tips & tricks 

Follow the rule: one empathy map = one customer segment. This means, if you have multiple customer segments, there should be an empathy map for each. Mixing different segments in one map won’t give you valuable insights. 

Use post-its to fill in the canvas. Your understanding of the customer will evolve when interacting with them. By using post-its it is easy to change your map. 

Validate it with your customers. Use your map to interact with your customers and validate if the assumptions you made about them are true.

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