Start a Delivery Business or Courier Service – How to Do Customer Discovery

This article flows from a bigger series on how to start a delivery service or courier business. We here at Upper Route Planner offer a route planning application, and we want to serve our users by creating a guide to help you start a delivery business overall. This is why we’ve created this guide.

This article will look at the importance of customer discovery and how it can make or break a business. This article from a longer series of articles talks about starting a delivery or courier business. Let’s dive in!

For more information:
Checklist to Start a Courier Business: 32 Best Steps on Getting Started

What is Customer Discovery?

What is Customer Discovery?

The customer discovery process is getting to know your customer, their problems/needs, and how a solution can best solve their problem. This is achieved generally by having conversations, asking “discovery” and “validation” questions. Good discovery needs to define the questions and answers you are looking to get from the process.

As mentioned, this is part of a broader series on

Why is Customer Discovery Important?

The Foundation – Create a Profitable Service Business

First thing’s first: Why it’s important is that you want to build a successful business that makes you money.

And how do you do that?

You build a successful delivery service business by creating a loyal, happy customer base.

And how do you do that?

You provide the appropriate solution to a specific target market. In other words, you provide the delivery service that is appropriate to the community you’re serving.

Let’s break down those two elements. First, the “Appropriate Solution” and second is the “specific target market.”

What is an appropriate solution?

The first half of the answer above is the “appropriate” solution. In other words, this means the “Right solution” or the one that meets the needs of potential customers. You can think, for example, of courier services who provide deliveries for a specific user with specific requirements, like a flower shop or food takeaway that can use their services on demand. Of course, some of the base requirements have to do with meeting the customers’ needs with urgency and expediency.

A great example is Uber, who created a new business with a business plan that disrupted the existing taxi industry. They used the opportunity left by traditional businesses to create a faster, more convenient experience for users. Uber leveraged new equipment and tech (smartphones), solved the logistics problems that created a better choice for many users and turned an average car into a delivery vehicle ( like cargo van or pickup trucks) to serve a pressing need for transportation. In short, customers get faster delivery services for a lesser cost.

This is an example of an appropriate solution. Having such a solution inevitably leads to repeat customers and clients, and things go a lot easier for you.

Now, what’s missing is the other part of the equation – the specific target market. Let’s look into that side of the equation.

What is a specific target market?

A specific target market is a group of customers that a small business or delivery service can meet. This is a very tricky step in the process. It requires businesses and business owners to take a step back, get support of user data, and understand the customers they are serving.

What’s important here is that you define who you are serving and who you are NOT serving. For instance, you may want to be a small business delivery service business and only service small delivery services. Or on the other hand, maybe you want to target a few large businesses and only service their logistics in your deliveries.

The key thing here is: there is no right or wrong answer. The important thing is that you talk to customers, that you get to understand what the need of each user is, and to segment these users into different groups. When you know who you are serving, you can then craft a delivery service or courier service appropriate to those clients.

Why do I Need a Specific Target Market?

In short, knowing the specific target market will drastically improve the quality of your delivery business or delivery service and will give you a big head start on how to a) find these clients, b) talk or market to them; c) Get them to use your delivery business. This is why precisely why it’s critical in this type of business (or any business) to start and to continue making customer discovery. Specific examples of target markets would be Mobile Pet Grooming or a lawn maintenance service.

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What are the Benefits of Good Customer Discovery?

We’ve made the case above for making customer discovery. Here is a bullet point list of benefits that really allow you as the future boss of a delivery business to know how it will benefit you.

Benefits of Good Customer Discovery

  • Save Time: With a better knowledge of your users, your business will benefit from creating a scope on where the deliveries will take place (delivery boundaries).
  • Save Money: If you know your target audience, you can more quickly reach out to them, make more deliveries, and make those deliveries in less time. This all results in improved efficiency and output for your business, which means more profit to the bottom line.
  • Improved Client Knowledge: Knowing the client’s needs will help you see the demand for your specific target market. This means it’s easier to find them, communicate with them, and sell to them. This will also help you in coming up with suitable ads about the items you are selling.
  • Quicker Sales times: Your business will be able to sell quicker to your clients
  • More Efficient Business: By having a focused set of needs for your client base, allows your business to limit the scope of your delivery service business: for instance, are you doing only errands? Do you have one vehicle? Or do you need more than one vehicle? This knowledge can make you leaner; for instance, it can help you start with just one vehicle (like pickup truck) and maybe start working out of your home.
  • More clarity: When you know who you are serving, you have more clarity. This can help with things like getting a business name, business license, startup fees, and
  • Fewer Equipment Costs: With more focus and clarify, you will be able to better your need for equipment; for example, what delivery vehicles do you need? What type of cell phone? What other equipment do you need? Can I work out of my home? Can I use my own car to start? Do I need liability insurance or cargo insurance? This will allows your delivery business to reduce startup costs and get started with the operations quicker. There are other things involved like state permits, insurance policy, fuel costs, etc.

7 Steps to Customer Discovery Success

Below is the blueprint for a successful customer discovery process. Follow this, and you will have the foundation for a successful delivery business.

7 Steps to Customer Discovery Success

Step 1- Be Humble and Assume Nothing

The first step is to assume nothing. I don’t know my customer; I don’t know the industry.

The goal here is to have an open mind and go in with the goal of learning. Think of a young child: they are open to learning EVERYTHING. This is who you can initiate in this process. Imagine for a second if a young child thought they knew how to talk before they actually knew any words. Imagine for an instant if they were arrogant and said, “no thanks, I don’t need your help or anyone’s help on how to speak.” This is ludicrous, of course.

Young children have little to no ego when learning; the same is useful for us as adults.

Step 2 – Be a Scientist or Detective

With your new attitude in gear, now it’s time to get to business: the data business.

Thy key outcome is to get information on the users and find any source of information that will help you in your delivery business. In short, you want to use the scientific method:

  1. Define a question to explore (These types of users seem to have this problem)
  2. Create a hypothesis about how to solve this problem
  3. Gather information and do observations – See what is happening objectively (not what you THINK or FEEL is happening)
  4. Review the Information and validate or invalidate the hypothesis
  5. Repeat

In short, be prepared to collect data and be a scientist!

Step 3 – Create a Customer Persona (Customer Avatar)

In this step, you want to create an example of a “typical user you will serve.” There are many examples online of good resources on how to do this, including this one from Digital Marketer. This can also help you when you design your website to publish content. For our purposes, we suggest you define:

  • Who your customer avatar is (how old are they? what is their name? their job?)
  • What are their goals and desires?
  • What are their challenges and pain points? e.g., what do they want to do better?
  • Are they looking for a new solution? What does that solution look like?
  • How much are they willing to pay for this solution?

Step 4 – Define a Hypothesis

Now it’s time to define a hypothesis. Work from the Customer persona to create a hypothesis, using this format:

My user’s job is (insert job or role here), their challenge is (insert challenge here), they want the following change ( (insert change here), by doing (insert solution here).

Each of the “insert here” is the assumptions you will make. These assumptions will be challenged relentlessly in your customer discovery process.

Step 5 – Create a List of Customer Discovery Questions

If we continue from step 4, there is a list of important questions to ask from your users. They are broken down into 4 sections:

User Discovery Questions:

  • Who is the user?
  • How old are they?
  • How big is their company?
  • Are they an employee or in charge?

Problem Situation Questions:

  • What are the requirements for their job?
  • How are they currently getting the work done?
  • What’s the hardest part of this process?
  • What is challenging?
  • How much time is it taking?

Solution Discovery Questions:

  • What is your ideal solution?
  • If someone could do this, would you like that?
  • How much would you pay for this solution?

Step 6 – Ask these questions to potential customers.

Talk to People. Plain and simple.

Call them, show up at their place of work, work your network.

By any means, go and find those people and ask them these questions. And write down your answers.

Also, let them know this is a discovery, and don’t try to sell them. Selling and discovery are 2 different processes.

Step 7 – Analyze, Rinse, and Repeat

From there, you can analyze all the information you’ve collected. With this new information, you can update your assumptions and create new avatars, which will allow you to better your business, your service offering, and help you become a more successful company!


So there you have it! We hope this has been useful. We here at Upper Route Planner are dedicated to the success of your delivery or service business. If there’s anything else we can help with, please let us know!

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