A good product is one that makes your users feel some emotion(s). Empathy in product management is to understand those emotions. Good products are those that take you on an emotional journey — whether it is the rollercoaster of emotion experienced through seeing your friends’ photos (Instagram, Facebook, etc) or the satisfaction of having made a cost-effective purchase (Amazon) — every good product has some emotional association with it.
And this is something we often forget when we build products.
An emotional response from a product is critical to its success. Even something as mundane as a banking application (e.g. Revolut) should make you feel something. If all your banking app did was provide you with easy access to your money, you wouldn’t think much of the app. It wouldn’t make you feel like it was there — for you. However, if the app showed you how you are spending and how you can save money or make more money through investments, you’d likely engage more with it.
Why does that matter? Simple — we humans are wired to remember emotional responses more often than we remember transactional responses. There is a saying, people will remember not what you say to them, but how you make them feel. And the same holds for products.
A common mistake PMs make is of equating ease of use/access as an emotion. It is not. Your product can make the most complicated aspect of life simple, but without an actual emotional value add — it won’t make a difference. It won’t be sticky.
Here is a simple example.
The common approach to banking apps is to provide facts — cold hard facts that the user can use to make informed decisions. And that’s fine if that is your goal.
However, if the goal of the app is to engage with the customer, and increase their penetration with the banks’ offerings, then the second design works. Because it invokes an emotional response of satisfaction (if you hit the goals you’ve set) or dissatisfaction (from not hitting goals, which creates the golden opportunity…