Incrementalist

Latest Tips

Check for (NSFW) alternative meanings

You've come up with the perfect name for your business; printed flyers, bought the domain, registered your company, only to discover that it means poop in Portuguese.

This might seem far-fetched, but this happens all the time, even to big companies.

Luckily, some genius came up with wordsafety.com. It checks if your idea also means something rude in another language. It takes seconds to check and could save you lots of trouble down the line.

Make it Easy to Pronounce

Making sure the name of your business is easy to pronounce has some obvious benefits:

But there is another, subtler effect — It seems an easily pronounced name is considered more trustworthy. A study asked people to compare contradictory reports from two fictitious companies named "Artan" and "Taahhut." It found that people "gave much more weight to the report from Artan than to the report from Taahhut.1"

What's more...

"companies with pronounceable names do better than others for the first week after a stock is issued.2"

'Nike' is still battling with its pronunciation nearly 50 years later3. Learn from their mistake.

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman - Page 64 | 2. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman - Page 66 | 3. Nike is pronounced Nikey, confirms guy who ought to know - The Independent - 2 June 2014

Iced coffee cubes

Iced coffee tends to end in disappointment. The ice melts, leaving you with a cup of diluted coffee-water. 

This tragedy doubles when you take into account the peak-end rule1. The rule dictates that we judge an experience based on a mixture of its most intense (in this case delicious) moment and its conclusion.
This psychological phenomenon holds true for both colonoscopies2 and potato chips3.

So how can you improve the end of an iced coffee? Some cafes keep their cold-brew delicious throughout by using iced coffee cubes. As they melt, they'll replenish the drink with more coffee, instead of old freezer water. You could even add sugary cubes, to finish with a sweet kick.

1,2 – Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman | 3. Interference of the End - Why Recency Bias in Memory Determines When a Food Is Consumed Again -  Emily N. Garbinsky, Carey K. Morewedge, Baba Shiv

Preventing Graffiti with Chalkboard Walls

Since time immemorial humans have felt the urge to scribble on walls. The content of these scribbles; lewd drawings, jokes, and insults, has remained the same throughout history1.

This practice is enjoyable for those doing (and reading) the graffiti, and less enjoyable if you're cleaning it. You could put up signs asking people not to vandalize the stalls. It has worked before,2 but there is a more creative way.

Instead of preventing would-be vandals, some restaurants and bars have taken an unusual approach to bathroom graffiti. Painting the walls with chalkboard paint and providing chalk; allowing customers to make their mark without creating a time-consuming mess.

It's fun, looks better than graffiti, and as a bonus, you can now use the walls to give instructions to your customers. e.g., please wash your hands. 

1. Graffiti from Pompeii - Prof. Brian Harvey | 2. A Prompt Plus Delayed Contingency Procedure for Reducing Bathroom Graffiti - T. Steuart Watson

Flattering Lighting

People often use restroom mirrors to freshen up and assess their looks. It's a moment of vulnerability and a perfect time to make your customers happy — by tricking them into thinking they are good-looking using flattering lights. 

This trick is commonly used by clothing stores to increase sales. The better a customer looks in a garment, the more likely they are to buy it. The same effect can be used in the restrooms of any small business to elevate the mood of your customers.

Creating flattering light is easy. Just light customers from the front instead of from overhead1. Placing lights on either side and above mirrors will achieve this effect. 

1. The Effects of Dressing Room Lighting on Consumers' Perceptions of Self and Environment - Anne Baumstarck M.I.D.  Nam‐Kyu Park Ph.D.

Nato Phonetic Alphabet

Having the Nato Alphabet printed and placed by the phone can save you a time and frustration on calls with your customers. In addition, you and your staff will come across as seasoned pros when you effortlessly proclaim that Q is for Quebec.

We've made a PDF of the Nato Alphabet for you can download and print off.

Download PDF

Citrus Smells Inspire Cleanliness

The smell of citrus subconsciously makes people clean up after themselves. Paul Dolan writes in his book Happiness by Design1:

“Something as simple as air freshener makes it far more likely that you and they will clean up. People who ate a biscuit after sitting in a cubicle with citrus air freshener pumped in made three times as many hand movements to clean crumbs off the table compared to those who were not exposed to this cleanest-smelling of scents.2

Dolan uses the example of a household, but it is easy to see how this research applies to a cafe, restaurant, or any business with a restroom. There's even evidence suggesting that clean smells, like citrus, cause people to behave more virtuously.3

The smell of lemons is not mysterious in any way; just another way of priming people with the idea of cleanliness and gently nudging them to clean up.

1. Happiness by Design - Paul Dolan |Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior 2. Smells Like Clean Spirit -  - Rob W. Holland, Merel Hendriks, Henk Aarts| 3. The Smell of Virtue - Clean Scents Promote Reciprocity and Charity -  Katie Liljenquist, Chen-Bo Zhong, Adam D. Galinsky

Squatty Potty

This is not a joke. You can increase customer satisfaction, and decrease the time they spend on the john by unkinking their colons.

In 2015 Squatty Potty took the internet by storm with their viral video "This Unicorn changed the way I Poop."1 One study showed that pooping in a squat was an average of 40 seconds faster than pooping in a sitting position — which takes an average of 130 seconds.2

Squatty Potty relieves strain and increases comfort. Also, it helps to prevent hemorrhoids — not your responsibility, but nice to know. Some businesses have already introduced Squatty Potty especially Cross-Fit Gyms, Pilates and Yoga Studios.3

The more time customers spend in the restroom, the less time they spend eating, drinking and buying.

1.This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop - Squatty Potty - YouTube | 2. Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health - Dov Sikirov | 3. According to an email I received from the director of Marketing at Squatty Potty.

Hang Toilet Paper 'Over' not 'Under'

Toilet roll orientation is a surprisingly divisive issue with preferences for 'over' and 'under' correlating with wealth, gender and politics.1 But which way is correct?

According to the original 1891 patent, toilet roll should hang 'over.'2 Manufacturers also design their toilet roll to be used in this way.3 More importantly for your business, 'over' is the way most people prefer — and they really do care.

There are arguments for both orientations, but why blow against the wind? Hang your rolls over. People prefer it.

1. TWL #4: Which Way Should Toilet Paper Face? - Wendover Productions | 2. Wrapping or Toilet Paper Roll - Patent No 459,516 - S. Wheeler - 1891 | 3. Toilet Paper Orientation - Wikipedia 

Coffee Machine Acoustics

The sound of your coffee machine affects your customers' experience. One study “systematically influenced what people said about a cup of Nespresso coffee simply by filtering the sounds made by the machine”1

“...preferred sounds tend to feature more prominent dripping, sizzling, and crackling components and a more even temporal structure, while non-preferred sounds are more high-frequent, shrill, loud, powerful, and hard.2

This research also suggests “rattling” should be avoided.

General loudness can be diminished with sound-proofing sponge (or foam.) This type of soundproofing is known to work best for medium to high frequencies. So it should help to reduce non-preferred shrill and high-pitched sounds.3

Placing your coffee machine on a cork or rubber board and making sure it has rubber feet will minimize noise and rattling.

1. Gastrophysics – Professor Charles Spence | 2. Using Customer Insights to Improve Product Sound Design – Klemens Knoeferle | 3. Wikipedia - Soundproofing – Sorry 

Viora Lids

One of the best things about coffee is its smell; in fact, it's one of humanity's favorite scents.1 And yet, when we get takeaway coffee, it almost always comes with a lid, blocking the smell from reaching your nostrils, diminishing that most favorite of smells, and dulling the taste.2

Viora Ltd has designed a lid for takeaway coffee cups that allows the drinker to smell the coffee while they're drinking. The lid has a hole in it and is ergonomically designed to fit a nose.

Not only that, it mimics the experience of drinking from an open-topped cup, allowing a wide stream of liquid to “coat more of your taste buds.”3

1,2. Gastrophysics - Professor Charles Spence | 3. Viora - The Lid

Latte art affects taste

The shape of latte art affects the perceived flavor of the coffee.1

A culinary version of the Bouba/Kiki experiment was performed using cappuccinos with chocolate powder sprinkled through stencils. This loose definition of latte art was to control for the "effort," and "skill" of the baristas.

The results showed that rounded shapes were perceived as sweet and angular shapes bitter.2 You can see how this would apply to the rounded monks-head and the pointy edges of a rosetta.

1. Gastrophysics - Professor Charles Spence | 2. Latté Art Influences both the Expected and Rated Value of Milk‐Based Coffee Drinks - George van Doorn, Maxwell Colonna‐Dashwood, Reuben Hudd‐Baillie, Charles Spence | 3. Synaesthesia — A Window Into Perception, Thought and Language – V.S. Ramachandran, E.M. Hubbard

Urinal Flies

Sometime in the 1990s urinal spillage in Amsterdam Airport decreased by 80%1. The reason why? They had begun placing a small picture of a fly inside each urinal. It seems that men, at least, enjoy aiming at something.

This intervention has now become a famous piece of design. Seen in urinals and toilet bowls all over the world, with many airports and stadiums taking on the idea.

Although this practice has only just hit the mainstream, it started in the 1880s, when the Thomas Crapper Co, used a picture of a bee. The Latin for 'bee' is 'apis,' a joke a Victorian gentleman would have understood. 2

One urinal merchant claims a saving in cleaning costs of up to 20%.3 Although these figures ('80% less spillage' included) appear to be pulled out of thin air, it does work. We're just waiting for a researcher who's willing to find out exactly how much.

1. Nudge - Thaler & Sunstein - p91 | 2, 3. Aiming To Reduce Cleaning Costs - Works that Work - Blake Evans-Pritchard

Use Descriptive Menu Labels

A study conducted in the University of Illinois Cafeteria measured customers' behavior towards dishes that had descriptive labels against dishes that did not.1 Purchases of items with descriptive labels increased by 27%. Also, customers rated these dishes as higher quality, value for money, and their intent to purchase them again.

Descriptions were used "sparingly and appropriately" and fell into three categories, "Geographical," "Affective," and "Sensory." Some examples of these types of descriptions can be seen below.

1. Descriptive Menu Labels’ Effect on Sales - Brian Wansink, James Painter, Koert Van Ittersum

Price Anchoring Items

Placing an expensive item in a prominent position on your menu will make the others seem more reasonably priced. Some restaurants have gone so far as selling $100 hamburgers or a "$1000 caviar and lobster omelet" and to achieve this effect1. But it can be done without being silly. 

Many restaurants display sharing platters or a fancy house special in pride of place. Items that are expensive, but for good reasons.

The effects of anchoring are powerful and complex. It has been shown to make people willing to pay more even when the anchor is just a random high number, unrelated to the price of anything.2

1. Priceless - William Poundstone | 2. Anchoring Effects on Consumers' Willingness-to-Pay and Willingness-to-Accept - Itamar Simonson, Aimee Drolet

Use heavy coffee cups

The heavier the cup, the tastier the coffee is perceived. Professor Charles Spence, the author of Gastrophysics and many academic papers cited throughout this website, puts it like this:

“Time and again in our research, we find that adding weight to a soft-drink can, to a box of chocolates or to a carton of yogurt leads people to rate the product, no matter what it is, more highly.1

1. Gastro-Physics – Professor Charles Spence – p106

Push Tampers

Like so many of the best innovations, Push Tampers1 seem obvious in hindsight.

Rather than twisting your arm and wrist trying to achieve a flat 90-degree angle, Push Tampers use gravity and their adjustable base to do the same. They make it easy to produce consistent shots with even extraction, and their ergonomic design has been shown to reduce repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.2

Try This:
Position your arm as you normally would with a regular tamper. Hold it there for a little while, apply some downward pressure. You should feel a bit uncomfortable. Okay, done.

Now imagine you're holding a hockey puck in the palm of your hand. Turn your hand over. That's what using a Push Tamper feels like.

1. Push Tampers - Clockwork Espresso | 2. Can the use of an alternatively designed tamper alter spine posture and risk of upper limb injury while tamping espresso? – Diane E.Gregory, Stephanie E.Romero

Play music with prosocial lyrics

Playing music with pro-social lyrics, (words that promote love, being kind to each other, not being a racist, etc.), has been shown to make people behave pro-socially.1 So it's not such a stretch to imagine that it could cause customers to dole out the moola. 

Luckily, you don't have to imagine, a study conducted in Vannes, France, proved it to be true.2  Not only did it increase the number of customers who tipped, from 24% to 35%. It also increases the average size of the tip.3

1. Effects of songs with prosocial lyrics on prosocial thoughts, affect, and behavior - Tobias Greitemeyer | 2. Effects of songs with prosocial lyrics on tipping behavior in a restaurant - Céline Jacob, Nicolas Guéguen, Gaëlle Boulbry | 3. Tipping Research - Megatips 2 - Michael Lynn

Use Tip Trays with Credit Card Logos

Just the presence of credit card logos has been shown to increase spending, even when the customer isn't using a credit card. One theory suggests that the idea of 'credit' gets people in the mood to "Buy Now, Pay Later."1

This effect was tested on tipping habits in a restaurant and a cafe in New York.2 The study showed that using tip trays with credit card logos on them significantly increased the size of tips. Customers tipped an average of 4.29% more.3

1. Credit Cards as Spending Facilitating Stimuli : A Conditioning Interpretation - Richard A. Feinberg | 2. Tipping Research - Megatips 2 - Michael Lynn | 3. Credit card insignia and restaurant tipping: Evidence for an associative link - Michael McCall, Heather Belmont

Remove Currency Symbols

Removing the currency symbols from your menu increases customer spending. It seems that any mention of money makes people more price conscious.1

A study from The Center for Hospitality Research showed an “8.15% increase in average spending per person2 when the menu prices had their currency symbol removed. It’s worth noting the same study also experimented with using a scripted currency format, i.e., “7 Dollars,” and found it had the same effect on spending as using the $ sign.

1. Priceless - William Poundstone | 2. $ or Dollars: Effects of Menu-price Formats on Restaurant Checks - Sybil S. Yang, Sheryl E. Kimes Ph.D, Mauro M. Sessarego