I saw a bit of quick'n'dirty testing being done at my local cafe this week. The cafe opens at 6:30am and the only people in there are regulars like me. The staff seem to know most customers by name. I wondered how they learn names as well as each person's coffee preference.
This morning I overheard a customer paying in advance for coffees. Hurrah – that's what I want to do rather than hunt around for a few dollars each morning. But there are no signs about coffee buying schemes or discount cards with each 10th coffee for free. This seemed odd because cafes are usually have a bunch of tactical processes designed to keep them running, up-sell to customers, increasing table turnover and retaining customers.
So I asked if I could buy a bunch of coffees in advance and then watched with interest as my name and nine dashes was added to a list of names on a piece of paper taped to the cash register.
Now I know how they find out the names of their customers and how they keep track of coffees purchased in advance. Over time they will be able to decide if they need a more sophisticated version of the process but for the moment they are collecting data which they can use to help make decisions.
Any time you can run a quick'n'dirty test of an idea or process you have a great opportunity to collect information and explore possibilities at low cost. Decisions that are based on data rather than guesswork are likely to be more cost effective and are certainly easier to explain/justify or change.
I left the cafe smiling because I knew that the staff would know my name the next time I came in. Even though that wasn't my goal, it ended up being a bit of delight generate by the process.