Forget Paper. Collect Contact Details Online. Be COVID-Safe.

9 Jul 2020

Many businesses are required to complete COVID-Safe Checklists before they begin operating again, and for restaurants and cafes, a key new requirement is collecting contact details from customers.

A problem that is occurring though is some businesses are going quick and simple with just a list on a clipboard that gets passed around to every customer all day. This is both a risk of spreading the virus, and everyone filling in their details, can see the details of every other person before them that day. Others are doing small pieces of paper for each customer but then they need to be stored and organised etc.

Wouldn’t it be handy to let customers just fill in a form from their phone, no shared paper or pen to deal with, no need to keep track of a stack of papers etc.

It’s actually quite simple to setup, and you can do it for free with Google Forms. You could do the same thing with Microsoft Forms or even Survey Monkey. This article explains briefly how to do it with Google Forms, but the process would be similar with the others.

Here’s a quick explanation on how to setup a Google Form to collect the details you need from customers. The data gets stored securely with Google, and only the user account that setup the form can access the data submitted by the form. For most businesses, that means you just let customers submit their details, and never check the data unless Queensland Health requests a list, and you can then just export a spreadsheet from Google Forms with all of the submissions.

To do this all you need is a free Google account, if you have an email ending in gmail.com that will work just fine, or if you’re using GSuite for your work email you can use your normal email account to login.

There’s four steps to make this neatly workable for your customers:

  1. Setup the Google Form to collect the data
  2. Create a short link you can share with customers (the Google Form link is quite long)
  3. Create a QR code so customers can scan the code and go to the link without having to type in the link
  4. Make up a nice page that you can print out that shows the link and the QR code so you can display it for customers

Setup the Google Form

Go to https://docs.google.com/forms and login with your Google Account / gmail.com email address.

Follow the prompts to create a new form.

To build the form, just add the fields you need, Name, Email, Phone (or anything else your COVID-Safe Checklist requires).

Once it’s setup, click the cog icon in the top right and check off any settings you need to be sure it will do what you want, and then click “SEND” in the top right and you’ll see a spot here to copy the unique link for this form. That’s the link customers will need to put in their phone to get to the form.

The next section gives an idea on how to quickly create a neat short link that’s easier to type into a phone.

Create a Short Link to the Form

Google Forms has an option to make a short link, which changes this https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSezzsv6hkkqbIjBhVCd02jDTVIXpv20EZLjPIU6yHUdQ8EhRA/viewform?usp=sf_link to this https://forms.gle/uYtdVgJNH8S3GH6j8  – that is a lot shorter! But still not pretty for a customer to try to type that into their phone!!

To get a nicer short link, there’s a bunch of websites that will do the trick, but here’s one that should do the trick easily: https://tinyurl.com/

Go to https://tinyurl.com/ and in the box paste your link from the Google Form. Just below the box type in a nice friendly name for your business, this will become your new short link. Then click the “Make TinyURL” button and then you can copy the newly created link. 

I put “cafecatalyst” as my friendly name, so my new link to the form is https://tinyurl.com/cafecatalyst – when you put this on a page for customers to read you can leave off the “https://” bit at the start, their phone will figure that out, so I could just put tinyurl.com/cafecatalyst – now that’s much easier to type in!

Generate a QR Code

A QR code is just a fancy barcode that customers can scan with their phone. On Apple iPhone devices, they can just use the camera and it will read the barcode before they even take the picture. On Android devices they will need a QR code reading app (or can just type in the short link as above).

The QR code just stores that short link, so a quick scan of the QR code saves the customer from typing in the address.

A bunch of websites can generate these codes, but here’s one to try: https://www.qr-code-generator.com/

Just go to https://www.qr-code-generator.com/ and click the “URL” option, paste in your Google Form link (or the short link from above) and watch it create you a QR code. There’s a green button to Download the code as a JPG so you can drop it on a Word document to print it out.

Setup a Page to Show the QR Code and Link

The final step is to pull the above short link, and the QR code together on a simple page that you can print out and have available to show customers. 

Just drop it into a Word document is fine, maybe add a little explanation on how to use it, and perhaps laminate the printout so you can keep it clean easily.

Once you have that setup, give it a test run and make sure your staff know how it works so they can direct customers.

What a lot of businesses are doing is asking customers to do this process first before they are taken to a table.

It’s probably a good idea to have a backup in mind if the customer can’t work out their phone for some reason, even just having the staff member use their own device and type in the details on behalf of the customer. The data goes straight to the Google Form so the staff member doesn’t retain a copy on their device. Or keep some paper handy, although someone will have to enter these into the Google Form later so all customers are in the one list.

Need help?

The above is fairly easy to put together, but if you’re too busy with the rest of your checklist and running your business, just get in touch and we can setup something like this for you. Depending on your situation we can also look at other options including a way to collect the data via SMS for those who don’t have a smart phone.