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What I learnt being a delivery boy for my startup

The best feedbacks aren’t found in survey forms or emails. I learnt this the day I started meeting my customers.

A little over a year ago, we began operations for Mutterfly — a peer to peer platform that lets you rent items from people nearby and helps you earn by renting your unused items. P2P platforms are built on trust and to facilitate this we became the middleman offering end to end logistics.

As we went live, we got our first few customers before we had a delivery boy. So there I was, switching between multiple hats (& helmets) during the day.

Debut Delivery

The firsts are always special and mine was no different. My first delivery happened to be at 7:30 am on a monsoon morning and if that was not exciting enough, the item I was delivering was a mountain bike. #livingitup

Going into the delivery, I had prepped myself for the greetings and product demo. Five minutes later, that plan had disappeared. The moment our customer, Vimal, realised I was the founder, the cycle took a backseat (erm..no pun intended) and we got onto discussing Mutterfly. Being a techie himself, Vimal, enthusiastically discussed our Tech Stack, business model and future possibilities.

On the way back, I felt a little overwhelmed. It was a pleasant surprise to see our customer curious and excited about our future. While looking at customers, we always tend to measure the tangible metrics — ticket size, cost per acquisition, repeat orders etc. but speaking to your customer makes you realise the intangible investment they make — trust, time and emotions. If either of these are not upto the mark, their ROI is not justified.

Riding like a boss

5th — 10th — 50th. With each delivery, I took back a lot more. One metric I constantly tracked was customer emotions. The way our customer felt on receiving our product was a reflection of our brand identity. We collated this on a drawing board and this became the building block for our future product features.

If you don’t ask you don’t get.

I have always struggled with asking for favours. But while doing deliveries, this changed. I shamelessly asked our customers what they hated about our current app. Blunt questions invite blunt answers. I admit, it wasn’t the best feeling listening to all of them but in retrospect it made our product much stronger.

As product managers, we often obsess about solving the ‘big problem’ so much so that we overlook the smaller details that impact customer experience. No one says this better than Steve Jobs

"You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology."

I did not choose to be a delivery boy but it has been one of the best roles that came my way. From high rises to chawls, from hour long waits for customers to customers who have treated me to their home food — its been a big bag of humbling experiences. Here are my 2 cents on the hidden value a delivery team adds to any organisation.

Your Delivery team reflects the culture of your company

Your customer might purchase the product seeing a hoarding or a facebook ad, but it’s your delivery team who leaves the last impression. They have the power to make or break the returning customer.

A ‘Sorry’ when you are late and a ‘Thank You’ when you are leaving speaks more about your company’s culture than five lines on your website.

Train your Delivery team like you would train an intern.

We often spend weeks training and mentoring our team inside the office but when it comes to delivery guys — we expect them to start performing from Day 1.

We learn’t this the hard way — it’s better to not deliver than send an untrained delivery boy. While it’s acceptable to not know the technical answers, your delivery team must be able to communicate the basic functioning of the company to your customers.

Spend time with new delivery guys and acquaint them with the company. This will not only make them feel part of the team but will also make them realise the importance of their role. Ask them to shadow existing delivery guys till they are confident of doing it themselves. This might take a day or two but in the process you are sure to create a professional and trained workforce.

Your Product includes the way your Delivery team dresses

We often talk about product in terms of packaging or website interface. However, the service you provide is an equal (if not more important) part of your overall product. Especially in a market like India.

You will be surprised with the wonders a company t-shirt creates to build trust, loyalty and professionalism. Invest in one and wear it like a second skin.

Your delivery team is what keeps the company going, so keep them going

Come rain, storm or traffic — the city might stop but it’s admirable how the delivery guys make their way to keep the orders ticking. Pat them on a good day and encourage them on a bad one.

A water bottle, carry bag or an umbrella is one of the best gifts you could give your delivery boys. It won’t cost much and it will show your delivery team — you care.

Last but not the least, this post would be incomplete without sharing my respect for delivery boys — the unsung heroes who keep the company moving, deal with customers and often bear the brunt for no fault of theirs. I sincerely wish they start getting the credit they deserve because their efforts are way beyond a monthly salary.

So next time you have a delivery boy at your door, offer him a glass of water. If not, just say a “thank you” — it’s the best tip you could give him.


This post was originally published by the author on Linkedin.


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