3 Lessons On Customer Obsession From DoorDash

Customer obsession is thrown around as if every business does it. Truthfully, most businesses are profit obsessed; not customer obsessed. So what does customer obsession look like? A business that says they’re customer obsessed is one that sees their customers as their North Star; they start from them and work backwards.

For customer obsessed business everything starts and ends with the customer. And one specific tactic I’ve seen customer obsessed businesses practice is to constantly put themselves in their customer’s shoes via programs that get employees to experience the customer experience first hand. Customer obsessed businesses also make every product and service decision from the perspective of “how will this impact our customers?, will this make their experience better?”

Frankly, there aren’t many customer obsessed businesses out there!

DoorDash employees to make deliveries once per month

Last week DoorDash, a food ordering and delivery platform, announced that beginning in January, all DoorDash employees, including CEO Tony Xu, will be required to make deliveries once a month as part of the company’s reinstated WeDash program.

WeDash is the company’s flagship employee engagement program, which aims to have workers “learn first-hand how the technology products we build empower local economies, which in turn helps us build a better product.” Since the announcement, a DoorDash engineer (making $400K / year) slammed the announcement and posted his thoughts on the Blind Network:

“”Mandatory ‘WeDash’ starts from next year. You need to dash once a month. WILL BE TRACKED IN PERFORMANCE REVIEWS!! What the actual fuck? I didn’t sign up for this, there was nothing in the offer letter/job description about this.”

Since the comment was posted, it has 880 likes and more than 1,800 comments; and other disgruntled employees have also voiced their opinion. So, what’s wrong with the program? Nothing. The problem I see is DoorDash didn’t make it explicit that they are obsessed with delighting the customer, it’s not explicit in their culture, and they didn’t hire people with those traits in mind.

Still, this is a great way for DoorDash to filter out people who are there for the paycheck and don’t care about delighting the customer.

Anyway, here are 3 lessons on customer obsession from WeDash:

Customer discovery is never over

What DoorDash is doing is a great way for every employee, including those sitting in the office, to experience their product first hand. I’ve written about how one way established companies die is they assume they know their customers and stop doing any discovery work. But, customer discovery is never done, it is ongoing.

A motto of mine is OutCare. OutThink. OutWork. OutDo. The first one, OutCare, means you feel the customers pain and are highly motivated to eliminate that pain. So, A program like WeDash gets people to walk the shoes of other employees, to get to know the customer experience, and experience it first hand will only make for a more informed team. It will help everyone, including engineers, understand both customer and delivery people’s pains.

The answers are outside the building

Understanding the customer experience is key if you’re an engineer, because the most powerful way to understand pain and needs, and detect unarticulated ones is to walk in the customer shoes; a day in the life. Exposing people who sit in the office to the customer experience will widen their perspective, get them to see and hear how the product they’re building impacts customers.

As an engineer, you won’t find answers to questions when you’re inside the building!

It helps drive customer loyalty

Do DoorDash customers care about WeDash? Yes and no. What they care about is getting a hassle-free food ordering and delivery experience. People who use DoorDash are now more inclined to keep using DoorDash because they know the company actively works to improve the customer experience. WeDash is a way of “caring”, and this matters for customer loyalty.

Bottom line: The customer experience isn’t just the responsibility of a few, but of many. People should know how what they work on impacts the customer experience, so getting all employees, including the ones sitting in offices, to walk in the shoes of the customer is a very powerful way to stimulate empathy for the customer.