Empathy is the foundation for creating products that address the needs of customers. The word "customer-centric" indicates that the product centers around customer needs. These needs are wrapped up in the user’s feelings and experiences. Hence, empathy is an essential factor that can drive a better connection of user needs. First, let’s define customer-centric products before going into detail on how to use empathy to create them.
What is Customer centric?
Customer-centric is a strategy that focuses on providing the best possible experience for the customer. Customer-centric businesses place the customer at the center of their operations and ideas. They identify customers' needs, difficulties, and frustrations. They thoroughly understand the customer segments to whom they will market their products.
Customer-centric businesses articulate the entire customer journey for a better customer experience. They focus on increasing customer loyalty, and as a result, their business grows. Customer-centric businesses believe that their customers are the primary reason for their existence. For this, they will go to any length to keep the customer satisfied.
A customer-centric product identifies the pain points of the customer. It also provides solutions to reduce pain points. For example, an app that reads drug prescriptions for the blind is fantastic. It is even better if the app can mention the time of the day so they can know when to take the drug and how many hours they have left to take the drug.
Such a product not only solves the problem of the blind but also connects with the struggles they face every day and provides solutions so that their frustration is minimized. Designing a product like the one described now is impossible if the designer cannot empathize with the customer's needs. Hence empathy is the starting point for creating customer-centric products, but what is empathy?
Empathy from a Design Perspective
Empathy is the ability to see things through the lens of another. It is feeling what others are feeling and becoming one with their experience and struggles. Empathy helps create usable solutions in design because it enables them to feel, give, and identify customers' pain points.
Empathy is a crucial phase in the design thinking process. It helps designers set aside their assumptions about customers. It also allows them to gain deeper insights and new perspectives on what their customers go through.
The purpose of Empathy in Product Design
Product design is more than a set of simple steps or a mechanical procedure for solving a problem. Solving extraordinary problems and developing customer-centric products and services that people want is a valuable skill. It necessitates a distinct combination of fact-based expertise and the ability to empathize with customers' needs.
Michael Vough, the V.P of uber, said, “The core of UX design is empathy. That’s the starting point, no matter what. That will always be how you address any product challenge. The next big step is to become an outstanding company connecting people and people’s needs.”
In product design, empathizing with customers focuses on qualitative rather than quantitative data. Empathy inspires customer-centric product creation when designers engage with their customers. They get to understand how they feel, what they want, and why they want it.
Sometimes these things are not precisely clear to the customers. The designers can feel their emotions by asking them questions about their experiences. It will enable designers to discover the needs of customers better. It can lead to modifying some features in the design to create a solution for the customers or even lead to a whole new idea for the product design. Thus, empathy can inspire deep communication that leads to creating a product-centered around customer needs.
Empathy is the ability to see things through the lens of another. It is feeling what others are feeling and becoming one with their experience and struggles. In design, empathy helps create usable solutions because it enables them to feel, give, and identify customers' pain points.
How can Empathy be used in creating Customer-centric Products?
You cannot achieve empathy through assumption. There must be a connection between the designer and the customers, who are the primary focus of the product. This connection can be created by researching the customers. This research is not the typical research to get numbers but empathetic research that will be concerned about the feelings and thoughts of the customers.
The following points highlight how to use empathy in creating customer-centric products.
Ask introspective questions
Ask questions that will prompt customers to explain their frustrations, don’t stop at asking “what” questions; ask “why,” “how,” and “when.” Ask them questions about your assumptions too. Their answers will either confirm your assumptions or refute your deductions. Your assumptions don’t matter anymore if it goes against their experience. Remember, the product is for them, not for you.
Observe your customers
Observe the feelings and emotions of your customers during your research. Leave your assumptions, ideas, experiences, and feelings behind and focus on your customer's pain points. They might not communicate their thoughts well enough. So, it is crucial to go beyond words and answers to observe their feelings and emotions.
The emotions speak a lot more than words; it describes the extent of their frustrations. It helps designers feel their pain and empathize with them. Thus, when designing the product, you are designing as someone who has the data from customers and feels the customers' experience.
Use the storyboarding tool.
A storyboard is a tool that visually predicts and examines a user’s experience with a product. It portrays how people use a product, much like a movie. It can assist UX designers in understanding the flow of people’s conversations with a product over time, providing the designers with a clear sense of what is important to users. It will help designers with innovations in creating products that solve human problems.
Create Empathy Maps
An empathy map depicts and discusses what a user requires. Empathy maps aid designers in understanding their customers. Empathy maps assist designers in developing a broad understanding of customers.
An empathy map is divided into four groups:
Actions and behaviors:
Actions and behaviors capture customer behavior when using the product. The designer can write this down or draw the customer's actions when interacting with the product.
Thoughts and beliefs:
Some words depict the customer’s beliefs about the product. Words such as “I think this text should be bold” and “I hope this won’t be a long process” are essential feedback for creating a customer-centric product.
Feelings and emotions:
The designer should be patient enough to record the customer’s feelings about the product, “they might say the product is a good one,” but observe their expression while saying, “did they say it out of excitement about the product or to make you feel good?”
Related article: How Emotion is Connected to UX Design
Designers should look out for words such as “boring,” “takes time,” “stuck,” and “not visible” when testing a feature. These words show the customer's feelings about that feature or the product itself.
Empathy is essential in creating products centered around the customer's needs. It enables designers to develop products with a good user experience and functionality.
Related article: Design Feeling Approach to Design Tech
There are skills to learn to create a customer-centric product, tools to use, and research to do. Learning this requires being trained by experts in design tech, and you can find these experts at the GoCreate USA Bootcamp. Sign up here to register for the GoCreate USA Bootcamp to start learning UX design.