Empathy Maps: How To Understand Your Customer

An empathy map helps you identify with a customer’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Product teams often use empathy mapping to improve the user experience. In this article, learn how to build an empathy map and use it to improve your business strategy.

Have you heard the saying, “take a walk in my shoes?” That’s empathy in action. When you foster empathy, you visualize yourself living someone else’s life. This soft skill improves your understanding of how others navigate the world.

Empathy mapping is also useful to identify customer needs. By creating a detailed user persona and imagining yourself as that user, you can gain valuable insights about the customer experience. These insights can translate to product improvements and a stronger sales strategy.

What is an empathy map?

An empathy map is a tool that helps you discover how your target audience thinks, feels, and behaves so you can better understand their wants and needs. The map typically includes four quadrants: think and feel, say and do, see, and hear.

Before you can use this tool, you must first build a user persona or scenario to represent one of your target audiences. There are two main “methods” to persona creation. One is a persona description. For example, you might have the “confident shopper” or the “curious buyer.” This type of persona explains, in broad strokes, what motivates someone. It can help product, marketing, and sales teams understand their overall audience.

The second type of persona is a specific person, and this is the type you’ll use for your empathy map. This persona is a made up person that has a name, an age, likes, and dislikes. Putting a specific name, face, and age to a persona makes it easier to empathize with them.

When to use an empathy map

You can use empathy maps any time you want to learn more about your audience and gain perspective into how they think. Empathy maps are most helpful during product planning, but you can also use them to improve a product once you’ve created it.

Empathy maps also serve as a reflective tool for marketing campaigns or sales strategies. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking for gaps in your current strategy, an empathy map will offer guidance and support.

Who uses empathy maps?

  • Product teams to ensure they’re keeping the end user in mind during the design process.
  • Marketing teams to improve business strategy by identifying customer pain points and desires.
  • Design and developer teams to gain insight into user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)

Empathy mapping should be a group activity—you and your team members can brainstorm what the user experience may be like and streamline your ideas into the most accurate portrayal.

Read: 4 types of concept maps (with free templates)

4 elements of an empathy map

An empathy map has four quadrants that work together to get you into the mind of your end user. In addition to those four quadrants, you’ll also describe your persona’s pains and gains—or customer needs and expectations. The pains and gains will serve as a guide, while the remaining four elements help you explore a customer’s life from their point of view.

Pains: What are the pain points in the user’s life? What are their needs?

Gains: What are the user’s expectations for meeting their needs?

  1. Think and feel: What are the user’s major worries and aspirations? What are their values? What preoccupies their mind?
  2. Hear: Who are the user’s main influences in their life?
  3. See: What does the user see in their environment that influences them?
  4. Say and do: What does the user say and do to meet their needs?

To make filling out your empathy map easier, pair it with a user persona. That way, you know who your customer is before assessing what their life may look like. Remember that in order for your empathy map to be effective, you need to pair it with a user persona that describes a fictional individual. If you don’t already have a customer persona in mind, briefly describe the persona above the empathy map.

How to build an empathy map

Your company likely has more than one customer persona. To understand them all, create separate empathy maps for each persona. Use the steps below to build an empathy map, then incorporate the process into your workflow so team members can repeat it as needed….Read more

By: Team Asana

Source: Empathy Maps: Understand Your Customers [Free Template] • Asana

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What To Know about FHA Cash-Out Refinance Requirements and Guidelines

An FHA cash-out refinance allows you to tap the equity in your home with low credit score requirements. (Shutterstock)

If you have an FHA loan, you may be able to tap into your home equity by refinancing. This can give you the cash you need to renovate your home, consolidate debt, or help pay for a college education. Here’s a look at the FHA cash-out refinance program, including how it works and how you can qualify.

You won’t find rates for FHA cash-out refinances at Credible, but if you’re looking for a great cash-out refinance rate on a conventional loan, it only takes a few minutes to compare personalized, prequalified rates.

What is an FHA cash-out refinance and how does it work?

An FHA cash-out refinance allows you to take out a new FHA loan, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, that pays off and replaces your current one. Your new loan will be for a larger amount than you currently owe, with the difference coming to you as cash.

You can use the money you receive from an FHA cash-out refinance for anything, but people often use the funds to pay off high-interest debt, or to pay for home improvements or large expenses like medical bills or tuition payments.

An FHA cash-out refinance is different from another common type of FHA loan refinance: the FHA Streamline Refinance. A streamline refinance doesn’t allow you to take cash out from your equity, but you benefit from a quicker and easier process. Streamline refinances don’t require a home appraisal, and you may not need to go through a credit check. With a cash-out refinance, you’ll need to do both.

How do you qualify for an FHA cash-out refinance?

FHA cash-out refinances have requirements similar to those of a traditional FHA loan, with some key differences. To be approved for an FHA cash-out refinance, you must have:

  • A credit score of at least 500
  • A debt-to-income ratio below 50%
  • At least 20% equity in your home after refinancing
  • Owned and lived in the home as your principal residence for the past 12 months
  • Made all mortgage payments within a month of their due date for the past 12 months

The amount of cash you’re able to take out depends on your home value and how much equity you have in the home. After your refinance is complete, you must still have 20% equity.

For example, let’s say you have a home that’s worth $300,000 and you owe $200,000 on your current mortgage. You currently have about 33% equity in your home.

In this situation, you could potentially take out up to $40,000 in cash through an FHA cash-out refinance loan worth $240,000. That would leave you with $60,000 in equity, or 20% of your home’s value. Lenders may have different requirements for an FHA cash-out refinance based on your credit score and other factors.

What does an FHA cash-out refinance cost?

You’ll need to pay closing costs when you complete an FHA cash-out refinance. These fees may range up to 3% to 4% of the amount of your loan. You may be able to finance some or all of your closing costs into your new loan.

Common closing costs include:

  • Origination fee
  • Appraisal fee
  • Title fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Mortgage insurance premiums
  • Homeowners insurance premiums

All FHA loans require an upfront mortgage insurance premium that’s typically 1.75% of the loan amount. If your FHA cash-out refinance is within three years of your original FHA loan, you may be able to get a refund for a percentage of the upfront premium you paid.

Credible can help you find a great refinance rate on a traditional cash-out refinance. Easily compare multiple lenders and see prequalified rates in a few minutes.

How to apply for an FHA cash-out refinance

Applying for an FHA cash-out refinance is a similar process to the one you used when you first bought your home. Contact your current lender for a rate quote, but also request quotes from several other lenders and see if you qualify.

Different lenders may have different requirements for who can qualify for an FHA cash-out refinance and how much money you may be able to take out. By visiting the lender’s website, you may be able to prequalify for a loan by filling out a simple form and going through a quick credit check. Prequalifying for a loan may affect your credit score. However, credit bureaus treat credit checks from multiple lenders within 45 days as one inquiry, so you’re not penalized for shopping around and getting quotes from a variety of options.

Documents you’ll need for an FHA cash-out refinance

Once you’ve found a lender, your loan officer will give you instructions on how to proceed with a full loan application. You’ll need to provide financial documents, which may include:

  • Tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank account statements

Other requirements for an FHA cash-out refinance

Your lender will also order an appraisal of your home to determine its value. This is key in determining how much equity you currently have, and thus how much cash you’ll be able to take out. You’ll also need to go through a thorough review of your credit history.

If you qualify for the loan based on the appraisal and underwriting, you’ll typically meet in person to sign the closing documents. Some lenders may offer an e-closing option, where this can be done virtually. If you’re refinancing with a different lender, be sure to continue paying your existing mortgage until you receive confirmation that it’s paid off.

Pros and cons of an FHA cash-out refinance

Like any financial transaction, an FHA cash-out refinance has its benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few to keep in mind before you make your decision:

Pros

  • Tap home equity without a second loan — A cash-out refinance allows you to take money out of your home equity without needing to take on another loan and monthly payment. You’ll simply have another first mortgage.
  • Low credit qualifying requirements — You may be able to qualify for an FHA cash-out refinance with a credit score as low as 500, much lower than what you’d need for other types of loans.
  • Low interest rates — FHA interest rates will generally be lower than what you’d find on other types of loans, like a credit card or personal loan. That’s because FHA loans are secured loans, using your home as collateral for the loan.

Cons

  • Higher monthly payments — Since you’re taking out a larger loan than what you currently owe, your monthly payments may be higher than what you’re currently paying. This may strain your budget.
  • Mortgage insurance required — FHA loans require mortgage insurance no matter how much equity you have in your home. You’ll pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium when you close on the loan, and annual mortgage premiums that may become part of your monthly payment. In some cases, you may be able to cancel FHA mortgage insurance payments, but no sooner than 11 years after you take out your loan. This is different from conventional loans, where you may be able to forego mortgage insurance if you have more than 20% equity in your home.
  • Risk of foreclosure — If you fail to make your payments on an FHA loan, you risk losing your home to foreclosure. If your new mortgage has significantly higher payments, this may increase your risk. You may be able to get the cash you need with an unsecured loan, like a personal loan, that doesn’t run the risk of losing your home.

Source: What to know about FHA cash-out refinance requirements and guidelines | Fox Business

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Here’s How To Implement a Skills First Approach To Workforce Development

The American workforce is on the cusp of massive disruption, with 40 percent of employees actively looking to change jobs in what economists are calling “The Great Resignation.” This presents business leaders with two unique dilemmas: first, how to manage churn within their own organizations; and second, how to effectively hire new talent, while developing their existing workforce.

The traditional methods of matching people to work are not up to the task. Many hiring practices are outdated and inefficient, with layers of bureaucracy, lots of administration, and old assumptions about who is qualified to take on what challenges. At the same time, legacy workforce development efforts are not equipped to meet the new level of need. As a result, businesses are missing out on potential talent, and people are missing out on jobs or experiences that would make a powerful difference in their lives.

By the end of 2020, 80 percent of U.S. employers had difficulty filling openings because of current skills gaps. The World Economic Forum estimates that 42 percent of jobs will require different skills in the next three years, and over 1 billion workers will need reskilling by 2030. Replacing talent – or preventing its loss – is the number one challenge many organizations are facing in the near term. Underlying that challenge is a bigger problem: the lack of an adaptable, engaged workforce with the skills needed for a changing world. This presents a serious risk to the whole population in a rapidly changing, complex world.

For both businesses and workers, agility – the ability to adapt and respond quickly to whatever comes next – is essential. Skills-first strategy is a promising, emerging trend aimed at increasing agility. A skills-first approach requires rethinking the premise of talent and turning the traditional talent model on its head. Demonstrated skills are valued over job histories and degrees. Rich, varied career journeys are prioritized over unilateral, pre-defined paths. And rewards and recognition are influenced by skills and contributions, not just job level, tenure or location.

There is no quick and easy way to make the move to a skills-first strategy. But, once you take a skills-first perspective, the implications are far reaching, touching everything from recruiting and development to learning and rewards. As the Chief Learning Officer at Workday, I’m finding myself “unlearning” many of my assumptions. But I’m also inspired by this new approach, which opens up new avenues for solving today’s business challenges.

Whether you’re a company leader or in an organizational talent role, here’s how you can get started with a skills-first talent strategy:

  • Establish a unified skills language

Most organizations use confused and inconsistent terminology around skills. This makes it difficult for employers to identify which workers have the skills needed to fill open roles, and workers struggle to understand which skills they should develop to advance their careers.We suggest simplifying and streamlining so that everyone is on the same page. For example, at Workday, we are moving to a three-part shared language around skills: Core Skills, Job Skills, and Unique Skills. In other words: What is needed to be successful at this company? What is needed to do this job? What else does an employee (or potential employee, contractor, or freelancer) have to offer?

  • Consider your company culture

What aspects or attributes of your company culture support the shift to skills first? What might get in the way? What is required to operate with a skills-first strategy across the enterprise? You will need to build on structures and behaviors that foster connections across silos, candid communication and conversation, and psychological safety. These will help you to empower workers as you determine which skills are needed to accomplish business strategy and goals, identify who has those skills, and fill in gaps by moving, developing, or bringing in new people.

  • Leverage innovative technology

With products that are seamlessly connected, technology can drive key business outcomes: getting work done, reskilling and upskilling, driving performance, and creating opportunities for career growth. For example, Workday can match an employee’s skills to the skills required for an internal job or gig available in Workday Talent Marketplace. We can also make personalized skill learning recommendations in Career Hub, a centralized space where employees can use tools and resources to develop in their careers.

Skills are the fundamental currency of the changing world as we prepare for the future of work. A skills-first approach opens the door to exciting, dynamic careers for current and future employees, which further promotes ongoing learning and engagement – just what organizations need to ensure they attract and keep the right talent.

By Chris Ernst

Source: Here’s how to implement a skills-first approach to workforce development – CEO Magazine North America

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