Today while I was working on a blog for the Whole Foods Magazine website, one of our sales executives passed by my office door and into our company break room (a.k.a. Food For Thought). Ever since I took over the management of the break room, I capitalize on every chance I get to learn more about what folks like and don’t like about it. So when my colleague passed by, I took a break from my (other) blog and followed him into the kitchen.
From the food and beverage mix, to the merchandising, to the pricing – I want to learn as much as I can in my efforts to get inside the minds of our retail customers. But the most important aspect of the break room, at least by my thinking, is finding out how to continually improve the usability of our self-service kiosk so that we can better serve vending and retail operators.
So I asked my co-worker point blank what bothered him most about the kiosk. Fully expecting him to say something like “I really wish it would show my balance on the main transaction screen,” or “why can’t I pay with cash?” his answer caught me off guard. His answer, in fact, was silence. He stood there for a moment thinking about what constructive criticism he might have, but after a little while he just started shaking his head, at which point I gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder and said jokingly, “Well, it must be perfect then.”
Following a joint guffaw, our conversation quickly segued into another topic, and I soon returned to my office to let my buddy choose his sustenance in peace. A couple of minutes later he walked into my office with a Fentiman’s Ginger Beer in his hand and asked if he could borrow my reading glasses.
Being the proud pseudo-cyborg that I am, and having just purchased a brilliantly designed pair of collapsible Magnivision reading glasses at my local CVS pharmacy, I gladly loaned them to my friend. After I got over the rush of demonstrating the telescoping ear stems, I realized he needed them so that he could read the ingredients list, which was in extremely fine print on the rear of the label, as is the case with most products these days.
My co-worker is highly allergic to gluten, which I’d known about for some time, and as I watched him inspect the label through the magnification of my reading glasses, I realized I’d just found something I’d been looking for – an “inarticulate need” around which to innovate.