Sunday, July 27, 2008

Make it super easy for your customers to submit feedback

I'm sure you've received emails from companies asking you to fill out a long survey by offering you some good deal before, such as a cup of free coffee or a chance to win a $5,000 spending spree.

No one fills out long surveys

How often do you fill those forms out? I almost never do so because a survey is just too formal (no fun) and takes me too much time (it usually turns out to be 15 minutes when they claim that it's a 5 minute only survey).

It's good that you want to hear what customers think of your products/services; that's the only way you can find out what really matters to the market and it's freaking important to your continued survival. However, asking your customers to fill out long surveys just don't work. Trust me, people don't have the patience to do that and many people don't like to read.

Ironically, the solution to this problem is exactly what a LOT of companies trying their best to avoid:

Making it super easy for your customers to tell you what they think.

Let us look at two cases.

How YouTube screwed this up

This problem from YouTube has been annoying me for a long time:

Whenenver I'm viewing a video and try to make it my favorite, I'll be asked to sign in first. No problem there, I'm happy to sign in. However, I'm always directed back to the homepage of YouTube instead of the video I was watching. This is quite an embarrassing user interface design flaw from the the super smarts at Google.

Yesterday, I was fed up with it and tried to look for a way to contact them about this problem. So, I clicked on the "Contact" link at the lower right corner of the homepage:

Then, it says that

If you need help, please visit our Help Center. We've answered the most common issues our users have, and if you can't find your answer there, you'll be directed to a form where you can email Customer Service for help.

Alright, let's see if they've answered this issue at the Help Center. Now I'm on their "Current Sites Issues" page and don't see this issue there. At the bottom of the page, it says
Don't see your answer listed above? Look in our Help Center. It's full of answers to frequently asked questions, and we're continuously adding and updating information.
What? Didn't you say that I'll be directed to a form where I can email Customer Service for help? Why take me back to your Help Center? I just want to suggest something!

How Facebook did it correctly

If you're Facebook user, you probably already notice that you can try out their new site design at

I like the new design because now I don't have to wait forever for the numerous applications to load on my friends' profile pages. That said, there was something that I didn't like. For example, the "Logout" link was only on the homepage while it should be available on every page (people want to log out whenever/wherever they want).

I noticed that they have this "Send feedback" link at the upper right corner of the screen

I clicked on that and this nice little window popped up

I told them that they should make the "Logout" link appear on every page and after like two days they made the correction.

To be fair, YouTube isn't the only company that makes you frustrated when you want to tell them how they can improve. Many big corporations spend millions on advertising campaigns and send out those long surveys instead of asking their webmaster to spend 15 minutes to create such a short form for people to contact them.

Better yet: respond personally

Of course, it'll be even better if you can give your customers a personal response to thank their feedbacks and explain what you're doing to tackle the issue.

"You're crazy! We're a fortune 500 company. How on earth can we personally respond to hundreds of thousands of feedbacks from customers everyday?"

You know what? I got a personal response from Amazon every time I submitted a recommendation to them.

I don't know how Amazon does it, but it they can do it, it's not that impossible, is it?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rest in peace Professor Randy..

I'm sure many of you have viewed Professor Randy's Last Lecture presentation (you can watch a shorter version here) and know that he dies today at age 47. His story made me think of a old movie that I watched in my ethics class when I was still in high school: My Life. If you've not watched that movie before, watch it.

Rest in peace Professor Randy... You have inspired us :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three Ninety Nine

One day, I was walking on Rodeo Drive and saw this nice little key chain at the elegant Prada store. I asked the salesman how much it is and he told me

"It's three ninety nine sir."

I thought to myself

"Wow, $3.99? I can't believe there's such a good deal here. This is Prada on Rodeo Drive man!"

After taking a few more looks at it, I decided to buy it.

"Yes, I would like to take..."

While the words were almost out of my mouth, I suddenly realized that he actually meant $399, not $3.99!!

"You would like to take it sir?"

"Oh no... I mean... I mean I would like to take a 'more detailed' look at it.."

"Sure, please take your time."

Of course, I didn't buy it after my "detailed look". Alas, Rodeo Drive isn't for me (O____O )

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Buy one smoothie get one free at Jamba Juice

Treat yourself and a friend a smoothie from Jamba Juice in this hot summer:

Photo from Jamba Juice

You can also get this deal by signing up at their website. I like their Banana Berry smoothie the most :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sssssh! My relatinoship is a secret....

I always have a hard time understanding why many Hong Kong young stars, especially the female ones, are not allowed to expose their relationships to the public.

Why is that? Because their managers think that the relationships will "adversely affect" their images, as if having a boyfriend/girlfriend is something that one should be ashamed of.

I would guess that only Chinese people have such thinking; have you ever heard any Hollywood star hiding his/her lover in order to maintain his/her popularity? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never known of anything like that in the Western culture.

This thinking is kind of absurd to me. Whether I like a star/artist depends on if s/he can
  • sing well
  • act well
  • dance well
  • make people laugh
  • and various other skills related to the entertainment industry
That's about it. As long as you sing so well like Eason Chan, I don't really care about your relationship or whether you're married or not. Unless your personal life is so messed up that you're hurting other people, I'm valuing you by your talents. Well, I do appreciate how hard working and persistent Andy Lau is, but I like him mostly because he acts well.

Actually, this "secret relationship" attitude isn't only present among Chinese celebrities. Quite a number of my Chinese friends regard their relationship status as highly confidential matters.

No, I'm not talking about the details of the relationship (my boyfriend took me to that romantic restaurant called XXX on the Valentine's day two years ago). I'm just talking about whether one's is in a relationship.

I've seen more than one pair of a guy and a girl going out together the zillionth time and still denying that they're a couple. Whether or not they really are a couple doesn't bother me, I've no interest in that. What bothers me is that it is a secret, or, perhaps more appropriate, a taboo; it is something that no one should talk about.

Why are people doing that? One incentive is to keep their choices open by always being "kind of" single. I wonder how the other person feel about this: this guy "kind of" admits that you're his girlfriend but he doesn't declare it publicly since he may find a better girl than you. Unless you're also looking for a better guy, that should feel pretty awful.

One time, my girl friend was asked where her boyfriend was since he wasn't with her. I knew that she just broke up with her boyfriend not long ago and it should have caused great pain to her because she had been in that relationship for many years.

Naturally, I assumed she would respond with standard answers like "Oh he's not free today" or "He has to work today". However, she directly admitted that

"I've broken up with him."

Confident and frank. Even some of the guys I know couldn't do that.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, it doesn't really matter. It does matter if you cannot face your own history, or, yourself.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Free chili dog at Wienerschnitzel on next Tuesday

Get a free original chili dog or kid's cone at a Wienerschnitzel store between 5 pm and 8 pm next Tuesday (7/15/2008):

Photo from Wienerschnitzel

By the way, can't they make their name a little bit easier to spell and pronounce?? (O__O )

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The final episode of Death Note

I just noticed that the cartoon version of Death Note has a somewhat different ending than the comics one. And yup I like this one more, especially the scene when Light ran along the path with the sunset in the background:
  • Light seemed to be running away to avoid being arrested. In fact, he knew that he couldn't escape. He was instead trying to run away from all the wrongdoings he committed. The days when he was still a good student came to his mind. However, everything was too late.
  • The industrial zone in the evening gave me a unspeakable feeling of loneliness and hopelessness. That background reflected the thoughts of Light at that moment very well.
So this ending actually adds a little bit of human touch to the evilness of Light. In the comics version, Light was a devil all the way till the end without any regret...

For some reason, I really like the feelings chimneys in an industrial zone give me. I guess I'm just weird :P

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grunion run at Seal Beach

Went to Seal Beach tonight for a grunion run and caught four of them

A look of this little fish from the side

After a while they became our late night snack

They were actually pretty yummy! And it was fun catching them too. Will go again next year :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Spring on Xiang River (春到湘江) - Zhang Bin

Spring on Xiang River was one song that I really wanted to play but couldn't manage it since it was too difficult for me. Now it's impossible since I've forgotten how to play Chinese flute already... Zhang Bin did a nice job on it though :)

Note: I also like the Guzheng version of this song!