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How to Delight a Customer in Thirty Three Days

Jeff Bezos, looking delighted.
“How many customers have you delighted?” My old friend Davorin asked me, as I used him for free therapy to lament the lack of revenue my machine-learning transcription software at VQ Voice has been earning. Davorin was having no such trouble, as he was planning the five-year anniversary party of his own startup, Digihey.
I thought hard about the question. I wanted to answer truthfully.
“None, I don’t think.”
I knew the answer right away, but wanted to somehow think my way into it being a different one. We don’t have that many customers in general, as we launched very recently. Amongst the customers we do have, a smattering of market researchers and recruiters who use us to transcribe their interviews, we have a few I might describe as “enthusiastic” and several I would describe as feeling positively about our platform. But nobody that I could truthfully describe as “delighted”.
I was intrigued. I latched onto this idea of “delight” because it’s one that I’ve heard many, many times before as a prerequisite to launching a highly successful product. I follow a lot of the YCombinator crew (Sam Altman, etc…) and they talk about this all the time. During their time running YC they’ve seen about every form of startup success known to man, and they say that the only products that really catch on are the ones that people love so much that they share organically. Products so good that customers can’t stop talking about them. There are many vectors to get someone to love your product enough to tell everyone they know about it, but at the end of the day this customer needs to be delighted, and then they’ll tell more new customers who will be delighted, and on and on until you smash cut to a swimming pool filled with VC money in the shape of your company’s logo. To them, “delight” is necessary for success.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, obsesses about customer delight. In fact, he says he says that you have to obsess over your customers, “...experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.” To him, customer obsession is the path to success, and customer delight is the only evidence that you are achieving this.
“Find one customer who’s delighted by your product by the end of February.” Davorin finally told me.
“Just one?” I said. I knew he was getting at, but in the back of my brain there were thoughts of revenue, expenses...all the parts of a business that require much more than a single customer to pay for. But I also knew that we would never get to those customers, the kind who seek you out and sign up organically, who love your product and who tell everyone they know how much they love it, if I was not able to find and delight even a single one. And, this gave me exactly thirty-three days to find and delight that single customer, the seed for our future speech-to-text empire.
“End of February?”, I said. “Let’s give it a shot.”
- Jack Connor