They're everywhere. QR codes are on magazine pages, billboards, the backs of buses, and yes, on the bodies and backs of humans. QR codes are a convenient way to link the physical world with the digital world. And this instant linkage offers the potential to dramatically improve the customer experience.
But how well are we using QR codes? Are we using them randomly, without a lot of forethought? Or are we using them in simple ways to land more fish in our marketing nets, or are we using them in innovative ways to make our customers' lives easier?
Based on some examples I've seen and read about recently, we're at the low end of the learning curve; we're using QR codes more, but haven't fully figured out how to make the most of their potential, for the benefit of buyer and seller alike.
The QR code in the customer experience is a bit like the Internet in education - we know there's huge potential , but we haven't yet figured out how the best ways to use it, to drive transformative results.
A July 25 post "Quesitonable Practices and the QR Code" in the 1:1 Media Blog described a large QR code that appeared on the back of a city bus, linking the viewer to a special offer. The trafffic safety folks probably were not consulted in this scenario: busses are followed by cars, and drivers of cars have smartphones, and drivers using smartphones while driving have a higher likelihood of getting into an accident - an unintended consequence of an ill-considered use of the QR code. Before placing the QR code, consider the context of the customer.
During a recent vacation on the mid-coast of Maine, I checked out the 65th Annual Maine Lobster Festival. A large plackard was placed at the entrance to the festival, with three QR codes displayed. One of the codes lead to the Festival schedule, so I scanned it with my iPhone, to see when Jonathan Edwards would appear on the music stage. I landed on the website for the Festival - a site that wasn't designed to be viewed from the smaller screen of a smartphone, and therefore, not an easy way to view the schedule. Before placing the QR code, consider the context of the customer.
At the other end of the spectrum, there have been some pretty innovative uses of QR codes that really have improved the customer experience; not just by making it easier to purchase a product, but by making it easier to enjoy using the product. The McLellan House of the Portland Museum of Art is a two-hundre year old mansion that's open for self-guided tours with some fascinating displays from its era. One wouldn't normally expect to see QR codes in an environment like this, but the Portland Museum of Art has done a tremendous placing the codes on walls and exhibits to enrich the customer experience. A visitor can simply scan the code to learn more about the design of that famous "Floating Staircase."
QR Codes offer great potential to improve the entire customer experience well beyond sales and marketing. If we give more forethought to the use and placement of the codes, we'll be more likely to tap into that full potential, and deliver a better experience fo seller and buyer alike.