Empathy Immersion

Empathy Immersion


Gain empathy firsthand by walking in your customers shoes

Reading Time

5 mins

What is this for? This is a simple but effective way to gain empathy firsthand. It'll help deepen your understanding of your customers needs by being "in their shoes". With it, you can better create beneficial outcomes for them. Mindset and core principles Empathy and Curiosity are key. You'll be "collecting data" using all of your senses. Insights arrive by going beyond what people say, and knowing how they think, feel, and act in context.


Step 1: Immerse in context

  • Determine whose experience you are looking to gain empathy for
  • Have an idea of the "moment in time" that's most important. Determine what tasks happen in that moment.
  • Get in context. Go to the actual environment they are in. Wear the gear they wear. Use the tools they use.

Other Tips:

  • We may be tempted to choose a "sponsor" as a customer, but often it's the end user who you'd like to benefit (which will encourage sponsors).
  • Getting in context can sometimes be challenging. Don't give up! Be creative by leveraging your personal network and other resources.
  • Sometimes, you must simulate aspects of experiences. It's better to do this than not to do it at all. Recreate the minor touchpoints.

Step 2: Record findings

  • Engage in the experience fully
  • As you go through the tasks and experience be utilizing all senses to collect data/observations.
  • There's not one way to record data, but it is important to keep it objective. Capturing observations versus interpretations.
  • We find it most practical to simply write notes by hand. Some additional means include photos, video, and audio recording.


  • Save analysis for later! Be fully present.
  • Observations are factual data, capturing in this fashion allows more effective and objective sharing of data later with others.
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Step 3: Reflect and Debrief

  • Immediately after, reserve time to reflect on the experience - adding to your notes.
  • With your data collection, begin to "highlight" some of the most important things like:
    • Surprises - what really stood out to you.
    • Themes/Patterns - what kept coming up, or was clear across data
    • What was missing? - what did you expect, but didn't observe
    • Empathy - what would be most important to the user - what was the strongest pain point or feeling '
  • Debriefing with others who also immersed or observed is a great way to share knowledge, have a better understanding, and gain momentum for the initiative.
  • You could use the prompts from the Ethnographic Research Debrief here too! 👇

Try it now

The cool thing about immersing yourself in your customers experience - it can really be done at any scale!

Try this on by replicating a moment, task, or experience. Get a lap under your belt by following these three steps over minutes, instead of hours .

*Find a partner to do this with!

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