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Empathy in customer conversations

Early stage founders struggle with customer conversations quite understandably.

Because they look at them as “mandatory community service” given by a judge. Just kiddin’.

But more often than not, it’s meant to hastily validate an idea/hypothesis in your head. So you want it to be fast and self-serving.

Rarely does it ever work that smooth. Especially if you are not putting their priorities over yours. A startup problem has to be about them. Not you.

You’ll end up being frustrated if you approach customers with a mad rush.

The answer to the frustration is COMPASSION and EMPATHY.

Customers are not some random numbers walking with wallets dying to pay for your idea.

Get to their heart first. Treat them with respect and dignity.

They deserve to be heard. Just like you do, they deserve to express their opinions and their frustrations about the problems that are driving them nuts.

Of course, it’s not their job to tell you what you should build or which market to attack first. That’s all you.

But if you are willing to listen, each interaction can act like a delicate cue to an important puzzle. Over time, when you put all the pieces together, you get the big picture of the ideal product you need to build. It never happens all at once and hence you’ve got to be extremely patient. Each brick has to be carefully laid and sometimes some bricks have to be taken out and re-arranged until you build a solid foundation for your problem statement.

No time spent with a customer is ever wasted if you are willing to learn from it than rush them into being an audience to your sales pitch.

“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” - Jeff Bezos