Sign up for our newsletter

That felt right. We’ll be in touch soon about our new secret handshake.

Sorry, something went wrong!

Let’s keep this relationship going.

post

The customer is boss. Here’s why.

When you’re getting started as a founder of a new company, there’s one thing you learn right away: your customer is your boss. At Doughbies, we rely heavily on our Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to get customer feedback—it’s really everything for us. It’s how we get to know who our customers are, how they’re using our service, and how they want to use our service. My co-founder, Mariam Khan, and I also jump into support tickets, but NPS feedback is really where we hear the personal stories—the successes as well as the issues.

Baking customer feedback into cookie delivery

When I say the customer is boss, I’m talking about the process of finding balance in this ecosystem we’re creating. We’re listening to the customer, but we can’t take every suggestion. What we can do is respond, be kind, and explain who we are today and what we can deliver. We have customers who maybe aren’t really our customer now, but might be down the road. They’re people who maybe only want a single cookie, or wish we had a walk-up counter, or want to order the kind of bulk that’ll wipe out our entire day’s inventory. We also have customers who give great feedback about gifting, but we can’t prioritize that over customers who might just want to order a dozen cookies for themselves. We’re learning to listen first and then see what we can do.

We're listening to the customer, but we can't take every suggestion. What we can do is respond, be kind, and explain who we are today and what we can deliver.

The early cookie days

Mariam and I started the company in early 2014 after we were introduced as potential business partners by a mutual friend. Before that, I owned a business with my brother but left it behind to spend a few years in investment banking and as a venture capitalist. After a few years, I was ready to start another company and was inspired by my mom’s sea salt chocolate chip cookie recipe and just the feeling you have when you received homemade baked goods. But I needed a designer. Mariam’s background is in UI/UX design and we connected in part because she used to run a food blog. It’s turned out that she and I perfectly complement each other, and

The 20-minute promise

Deciding to deliver fresh-baked cookies in 20 minutes or less was in many ways a no-brainer. Figuring out how to make that happen was more difficult. We’re tasked with scaling production, operations, and customer service all at once. That’s why we haven’t rushed to roll out new delivery zip codes—because we want to be able to always deliver on our promise.

We plan to expand beyond San Francisco but are still learning new things every day from our customers. We want to take what we’re doing well on a small scale and work out as many of the wrinkles as possible before rolling out operations somewhere new. It’s something we’re really trying to stick to—keeping the customer experience at the forefront, and not scaling at the expense of the customer.

It’s something we’re really trying to stick to—keeping the customer experience at the forefront, and not scaling at the expense of the customer.

We also really need our drivers’ buy-in because they’re a huge part of the customer experience. They’re face-to-face with the customers every day, so it’s important for everyone that we set them up for success, and that their experience delivering for us is just as positive as the experience we’re working to create for our customers. Although “surprise and delight” is an overused phrase, we’ve learned that it’s a big part of our value proposition and something we aim to do every day. There aren’t very many delivery services where you can get what you order so quickly. When you can order freshly baked cookies and get them only minutes later, it’s just like you baked them yourself, only without all the effort.

This is a reprint from a series of contributed blog posts from Zendesk customers and startup founders, each sharing a lesson learned along the way.

Daniel Conway is co-founder and CEO of Doughbies. Follow the official @Doughbies Instagram or Twitter feed, or find Daniel @FriendshipFred.