Whole Foods – a whole new experience

Today I visited a local whole foods store for the first time. I have been to one before in LA, but not the one in Oakland/Berkeley. I was so happy to be there. They had amazing array of food items, which are good and Satvic. I was very surprised to see “Kichadi” was being sold. The most interesting thing happened when I went to the hot food section. There was a guy at the counter, who was so friendly and amazing at customer service. He would talk nice to everyone, smile all the time. He would ask you, if you want a sample of anything. He was proud of what he was doing. He was striving for the best and he knew he was good. He loved his customers and we all loved him too.

This made me think about how we interact with customers in our work. My day job doesn’t even let me close to our customers. The customers for whom I write software. I know there are thousands of them and it would be impossible to know or interact with them. But I always loved the part where customer care would come up with a issue where some user has found a novel way of using our software. That’s as close as I could get to our customers. How can this be changed? Why would I want to change? I want to have more interactions with the users of my software because, the whole idea of writing software is to serve a purpose and thereby people. So, if I don’t take my user base’s feedback, then I am missing out something important.

How can I have more customer feedback for my software? A feedback form is a start. But how often do I get inspired to fill up a feedback form on any other site? There should be easy ways to get user feedback to me. The whole idea is to interact with my customer and get his/her input. The people who interact well with their customers are the people who base their software on the feedback. My thoughts went on and on as I kept thinking of how best I can interact with my customers.

Let’s take a look what kinds of feedback mechanisms are available in software world.

  1. Feedback form
  2. Comments on a blog
  3. Write to the editor
  4. Send email
  5. Live chat
  6. Forums (?)
  7. Mailing lists
  8. User groups
  9. Customer care – 1800 number

Looking at the list, I feel like feedback mechanisms vary depending on the user base. Forums, may not make sense if you have only 40 customers. Live chat would be useless unless you have staff assigned for that.

In any case, my perspective towards caring for the customer and valuing feedback has changed after my visit to Whole Foods. I would be thinking more and more on this in future.

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