Here I want to focus a bit about, what we would normally term, "negative" feedback. That is, feedback where a customer comminicates to me "complaining" about a product; or aspect they found not to their liking. Here are some examples of such comments:
"Last week the spelt levain was the best ever. The texture was amazing, and the flavor really full. Bravo! The babka on the other hand, was not my favorite. It had a slightly dry quality, and tasted slightly of "refrigerator", and had a bit of a more slick feeling on your tongue after chewing. Also, I didn't receive the two bagels I ordered." -Customer from West Philly
[Note: this came in the same day as the prior comment] Lately the loaves of spelt levain have been tougher than usual and very hard to chew. did you change ingredients? would like them to be a little more soft. thank you. -Customer from Havertown area.
Labeling Problem: Michael, you advertise loaves by weight. Last pickup, scales were out at Pennypack, so I weighed my loaves. They all came up short. I know this is not because you attempt to defraud customers, but because loaves shrink, because of temperature, humidity, and ingredient variation. Nonetheless, you should make clear what is the contract. Is one buying 2 pounds raw, pre-baked weight, or 2 pounds of packaged bread. -Horsham customer
My mind is interesting to watch when I get comments like this. My first reaction is usually "ego"-based or "small'-mind and it says something like this: "I am a failure since I can't please this person; I expect my products to be perfect, everytime; and it's just not acceptible to have inferior products leaving my bakery." A tyical reaction in my mind to this message is to look outside myself and attempt to blame the customer for the problem.
But this thought doesn't last long before my "large"-mind takes over and says: "Wow, this customer cares enough about my breads to tell me when it doesn't meet their expectations; what an incredible gift to know that people are really paying attention to how my breads are each week, and even take the time to let me know about their experience."
So in checking-in with myself about my reaction, I noticed that this type of feedback has a peculiar effect on me; going way beyond the substance of the comment. That is, the comment itself takes on meaning. The realization that people are "paying attention" prevents me from getting lazy. It's as if all of my customers are watching everything I do in the bakery. This goes beyond a parent figure watching over my actions, judging me. This is about tapping into a resevior of exchange of energy that is taking place as I bake for all the people who are eating the food. There is literally an exchange going on at all times in the process, although much of it is out of our awareness. So every comment I get, positive or negative, is a reminder to me that I am part of this exchange and I am not working alone or in isolation. I am more able then to tap into a higher level of Awareness of the exchange of energy.
But without the feedback, I forget. It's like I need a constant reminder that people are paying attention; and they care about what they are getting. Ultimately, I bake to tap into this Awareness; baking is just a means to make this happen for me. So every comment I get is pushing my Practice along. It's an amazing gift and a blessing.