23 July 2016

Why answer survey forms when you already have loyalty cards?

A. Do you really need your customer to answer surveys?

I once went to a restaurant. I frequent the place because I have a loyalty card. After my meal, the waitress gave me a tablet. I am not sure if it's an iPhone.

"Can you answer some survey questions, sir?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

The questions started with the food I ordered, if I like it; the place, if it's clean and presentable; the staff, if they are prompt in attending to the orders, etc. So far, so good. After five page flips, I realized the survey is getting longer and longer and the questions are becoming personal. The survey asked for my email and contact number. Oh, wait. Isn't my loyalty card suppose to know these things already?

I stopped answering and gave back the tablet to the waitress.

"Sorry, Ma'm. I can't continue with the survey. It's asking for my email address."

I think the survey provider is an external party and not the restaurant itself. With an email address marketers can already send you cold e-mails without giving option for opting out of the mailing list. E-mail is a precious commodity. You don't just give your e-mail away. When websites pop-up messages saying that I can't continue reading the blog post unless I give them my e-mail, I just clicked away.

B. Mine the data from the loyalty cards of your customers

Companies who give out loyalty cards but reliy on survey forms to measure customer feedback are defeating the purpose of loyalty cards. Loyalty cards are for customers who are already sold to the idea of buying from you. They already have made at least one purchase. If they bought from your restaurant 100x a year, that's a lot of data. That's big data.

Here are some metrics that you, the restaurant manager, should be able to distill from your customer data:
  • Total cost of purchases per year. You can group your customers into different bins depending on their total cost of purchases per year. You may be surprised that your top 20% of your customers is responsible for 80% of your income. 
  • Total purchases per product per year. You can combine this data with other customers to make a list of top products by number of items sold, unit price, and total cost of the items sold. This is important for making projections on the volume of demand next year for each item, so that you can plan your purchases for the following year to match the demand. You may also study the seasonal variations of the prices of goods, so that you can order them by bulk in the months when they are cheapest, assuming that you have sufficient adequate storage for these.
  • Total purchases per waiter per year. This is an interesting metric. It may surprise you that some waiters can get more purchases per customer than other waiters year after year. Study your best waiters. What are their tricks of the trade? Are they naturally beautiful. Do they like to engage with your customers in short personal conversations? Do they know your customers by name? Reward your best waiters with an extra bonus or better yet make them shine by asking them to teach the new hires on how to handle orders. 
C. How to mine the customer data from loyalty cards

Customers usually fill up a form before they can get their loyalty card. The form questions normally include, name, address, email, contact number, etc. These data are then stored in a database and the customer is given an ID number. For every purchase the customer makes, the purchase is logged in his account. A good database manager can then mine such data using standard querying tools, e.g. MS Access, MySQL, etc. If the data is in spreadsheet or text form, you may use macros to analyze your data. Macros are a set of formulas or operations done in sequence, so that when you input your data, it would immediately churn out the table or graph that you need. Usually, many of these back-office functions can already be outsourced to business process outsourcing (BPO) agencies.

06 July 2016

Let a hundred blogs bloom!

This blog is a random collection of articles, photos, posters, podcasts, and videos. Since it is difficult to classify all my diverse interests, I will just categorize my post in the most generic way possible: text, photo, graphic, audio, and video--depending on which takes up more space or time. But these won't be visible in the menu bar: all of them will be grouped in the "Blog" heading. If there are three more more blog posts that talk about the same topic, I group them together by making a blog post out of their abstracts, e.g. 5 articles on Twitter, 6 videos on Content Marketing, 7 lectures on ionosphere, etc. These blog posts will have "Collections" as tag. Finally, to help the reader get a bird's eye-view of the the whole website, I shall make blog posts with "Sitemap" tag, e.g. 100 blog posts for Year 2016.

I am a teacher, so most of my posts are "how to" posts, e.g. how to design a poster using GIMP, how to compute the magnetic field of a line current, how to animate an object in JavaScript, how to use prefiguration in fiction writing, etc. Sometimes, I shall tell stories about my life--not too personal, but just simple observations of everyday things. I shall also tell fictional stories. Hopefully, next year I am going to publish books out of my blog posts.

03 July 2016

How to organize your tasks per hour, day, week, month and year using a plain binder notebook

Trycooling PU Leather Loose Leaf Business Round Ring Binder Cover Notebooks 100 Sheets With a Pen Inserted (A5 6-Ring, Black)

If you are riding a car, you see clearer the things that are near than those that are far. The far objects gives us a sense of direction, e.g. North, South, East, or West. On the other hand, the near objects give us warnings on whether we need to steer left or right. The same is true with planning: the long-term goals give us a general direction of our life, while the short-term goals are what we need to accomplish each day.

There are many notebook planners in the market from detailed calendars with 30-minute resolutions, to general-type notebook planners with formatted days, weeks, and month pages. What I propose is just an ordinary binder notebook with unformatted pages for making short-term and long-term goals. You'll just do the formatting yourself. Here's how:

1. Get a binder notebook.

I'm using 26-ring Septcouleur binder notebook, but the page fillers are from Acryl. Septcouleur page fillers are of excellent quality for different types of pens. But since they are imported, the price can be prohibitive. Acryl also has binder notebooks, but in plastic and not steel. I am using Acryl binders for filing my archival notes, but I am using Septcouleur binder for everyday note-taking with my Parker fountain pen.

2. Mark consecutive pages by day of the week

I use a red pen to mark the page headers by MON, TUE, WED, THU, FRI, SAT, and SUN.

3. Write down your tasks for the day

If Today is a Saturday, I go to the Saturday page and write down the date and the tasks for the day. Each task has a square box that I can check if I have completed the task. If I moved the task to another day of the following week, I mark the tick box "moved", so that I can cross it out of my mind. Once all the tasks in one page have been checked or moved, I cross out the whole page. And once I crossed out both the front and back pages of the day, I throw away the page and get a new one as replacement

4. Create an HOUR page

I usually make an HOUR page before the MON page. The HOUR page header is in red ink. In the hour page, I write the hour of the day and not the minutes or seconds. I underline the hour of the day by red ink and write the tasks which I think I can finish in one hour. That's usually just 2 to 3 tasks which I get from my day of the week pages. Doing so allows me to focus knowing that the tasks are few and not insurmountable. It also allows me to plan ahead in three steps in one smooth workflow, e.g. go to the bookstore, buy a notebook, and eat lunch.

5. Create consecutive pages by month of the year

I use a red pen to mark the page headers JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, MAY, JUN, JUL, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, and DEC. These comes after the day of the week pages. If the task occurs on the month but not within the week, I put this task in the page of the month. As the days go by, that task will be within a week's time frame, and I transfer it in the day of the wee page and mark the task in the month's page as "moved". Once all the tasks in a a page of the month have been moved or corrected, I cross out the page. If both sides of the page have been crossed out, I throw the page away and get a new one as replacement.

6. Create a consecutive pages for the next five years

I haven't yet done this, but I think this is a good exercise if you wish to make 5-year plans, e.g. get married, buy a house, finish postgraduate studies abroad, etc. If you're a manager, then this 5-year window is really a must for management of long-term goals, such as those pertaining to personnel and assets, e.g. retirement of employees, job vacancies, purchase of new equipment, sale of stocks, etc. Once the tasks are within a year time-frame, the tasks can then be moved into a particular month.