In my first job ever, I knew each and every one of my users (customers), and it was amazing.
The sense of true contact with the market, the intimacy of what's really happening in their life, and the impact my business had on them.
What a waste, considering I was 10 or 12 years old... and the fact I only had 60 users.
If only I knew then what I know now...
It was a hot summer in the previous century, I was 10 or 12 years old, and my parents found me a job.
There was this guy, Joe, who would drive around the neighborhood early (very early) in the morning, and deliver breakfast groceries to families in the neighborhood.
People would wake up and find the groceries outside the door.
Optionally, they could leave specific requests for different groceries before they go to sleep, we'd find the instructions in the morning as part of our delivery round, at which time we'd get the additional products from the stocked truck, and leave it at their doorstep.
They'd get the bill at the end of the month, and we'd all be very happy.
My job schedule looked as follows:
04:00am Joe would arrive at our house, and blow his horn. I would wake up.
04:01am I would fall asleep again.
<Repeat for 10 minutes>
04:10am Joe would blow his horn twice, and I would wake up for real this time, wash my face and rush to the truck, and we'd start the route.
From now on, for the next 90 minutes or so, we'd follow this pattern:
* Joe drives to the next address
* during the drive I'd be packing the "standard order" for our next destination
* Joe would break - I would jump out of the van, run to the house, check there's no "customization note" waiting for us, leave the order, run back to the van - and off we go to the next place, repeating this process all over again.
** If a house would have a "customization note", I'd run back to the van, update the order (remove two buns since the kids are not at home, add extra milk and butter 'cause they have house guests etc) - and run back with the updated order to leave it at the door.
06:00am Joe would drop me back at my parents house, and I'd go to bed, to catch up on my missing sleep hours.
The most challenging part of the job was using the short time in between houses to correctly pack the goods for the next family - the faster I did this - the faster we got our whole job done.
Over the two months of the summer vacation, I got to know the ~60 families in the houses.
Who was traveling ("no need to deliver between 12-15/August"), who had guests ("need double of everything between 20-19/July"), who was divorcing/separating ("from now on please deliver only...") - there was no end to the amount of information we had about our customers.
Knowing this information, allowed me to optimized my work, and to better predict my user's needs - and prepare the package for the next family faster, shaving precious seconds off the packing time, allowing us to complete the route faster.
The power of knowing your users. The value of knowing your users.