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Know your customer: Software developers visit farmers!

By April 1, 2012 No Comments
Most software developers just want to fix their eyes on their computers and write code – no disturbances, no distractions. ‘The business team should do all the client interactions, we don’t want to be bothered’, is the usual cliché.  But as with many other tech companies, Esoko understands the value of interacting with clients to know their real problems and develop solutions that will be most useful to them. Our engineering team has a “Know Your Customer” program in place – software engineers must go to field at some point to meet the farmers and other user groups they are building the tools for. Why? As Godwin Cudjoe puts it “By meeting them, we better understand the real-life consequences of our design decisions.” – and by the way, Godwin is an Engineering Manager at Esoko.
Erica and Samdan on the road.

Erica and Samdan on the road.

When Samdan was asked to join our recent field trainers on a trip to farmers in the Volta Region of Ghana, he was initially hesitant. “I tried to avoid it, my comfort zone is behind my machine, coding,  but I would have regretted not going”, he said after returning from the trip. He continued, “Every software developer who goes to meet with the end-user has an experience that he will cherish for a long time. You will see the impact and the change you are making, see the need of the people and solve it in your own small way to change someone’s life. I was expecting farmers to be literate but found otherwise, some couldn’t even open a text message on their phones and that meant something to me – simplicity! Now I’m motivated to do more.” Samdan shared an advice – simplicity is the best – make it simple and basic if you really want users to understand and use your product.

erica and farmers

Erica getting to know Esoko’s real users.

Unlike Samdan, our lady developer Erica was curious and wanted to travel and see the people using the software. But the trip overwhelmed her. She described her experience as whoa! “The farmers were treating us like we were God-sent from Accra and this is the first time I saw real people using the application. Peoples’ lives depend on it and I was happy to go there and offer help instead of sitting in the office and coding. I came to appreciate the huge information gap in the agric industry that Esoko is filling – farmers need information from planting to harvesting and sales. My feeling is to stay positive and look forward to a day when every farmer in Ghana is using and benefiting from Esoko’s tools and services.” She says to developers, “go to the field, because it makes a difference and takes away the feeling that you are a robot”.

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