In general, the empathy gap refers to the idea of not being able to relate to the emotions, needs, and feelings of others because they’re naturally experiencing the world around them differently than you are. In business, this refers to the gap between the experience organizations feel they’re providing versus how customers actually feel about those experiences.
What causes the empathy gap?
Building products and experiences without regular feedback from customers will likely result in an empathy gap because you’re not in tune with the needs of your intended users. Quite simply, you may be solving problems that don’t exist.
How to avoid the empathy gap
It’s nearly impossible to predict the needs and actions of others. Which is why you probably shouldn’t. While it’s true that great product ideas can be stumbled upon, the most successful, lasting ones need testing and iterating to meet the needs of a wide audience, not just the needs of some.
There’s no better way to understand what your customers need than by asking them. Here are a few tried-and-true methods for doing this that can save you time, money, and resources. (Learn more here.)
- Usability testing
- Customer and user interviews
Remember, you’re not your user or customer
Probably the best way to keep the empathy gap at bay is to remember that no matter how hard your team tries, they’ll never understand their costumes unless they’re regularly talking to them.
By building in regular check-ins with customers through interviews or usability testing—or, even better, both!—you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of the people you’re building your products for and will gain the much-needed empathy to craft the experiences they love