Monday, April 26, 2010

Capturing the Mobile Consumer One Phone at a Time

What if you could provide a simple way for customers who view a print ad to get connected to your web site for more information or to make a purchase? What if you could give someone your business card and they could add you to their address book without typing a single letter? What if you wanted to add your event to someone’s electronic calendar while they viewed your promotional poster? Today, all this is possible and so much more.

The technology to make all this happen is QR Codes; a 2-dimensional barcode standard that started in Jap
an and has now reached every corner of the world. QR Codes are an easy way to encode lots of information into a barcode that can be scanned by most of the today’s camera phones.

So what can the barcode contain? Let’s look at the standard content that can be encoded:

  • Contact information – All the basic contact info that one would enter into an Outlook or Google address book can be encoded. Scan the code with your smartphone and instantly the information is ready for saving into your mobile address book. Even the capability to include a short memo about the contact info can be encoded. Why isn’t this on the back of everyone’s business card?

  • Calendar event – Event title (include the venue), start date and time and end data and time can all be embedded. How many event posters line the construction barriers within our major cities. Unless stamped “Post No Bills”, the wooden barriers become billboards for all the local nightlife in a matter of 24 hours. Every event poster ought to have a QR Code printed on the poster. What better way to remind someone about the event than to have the event pop up in their personal calendar?

  • E-mail address – Yes, this one is as simple as it sounds. Encoding any e-mail address (think unique address for tracking purposes) produces a pre-addressed e-mail screen pop-up when the barcode is scanned. Want to hear from your customers, put the barcode in the owners’ manual and encourage your customers to contact you via e-mail. Put the barcode on promotional materials and capture the e-mail address of the sender – a prospect looking for more info about your product or service.

  • GEO location – Google is using this capability to help drive use of Google maps. Tagging vendor locations with a barcode window sticker allows customers to know where they are. Geocaching participants really appreciate this kind of marking when trying to find a hidden stash.

  • Phone number – Want an ad viewer to be able to easily call you if they want to purchase a product or have a question answered? A phone number QR Code will put the number in the phone’s dialer window once scanned. All the consumer needs to do is press “Send” and the call is initiated. Once again, if you want to make it easy for prospects and customers to reach you, why not help them dial the phone.

  • SMS – How about helping the ad viewer to send a text message that is a query for more info? Perhaps the text message is a contest entry based on the sender’s mobile phone number. Perhaps the contest is to scan all the ads posted throughout a city. Each ad would have a different scan code reflecting the location. Track the received text messages and award a prize to the lucky person who completed the task. Lots of possibilities here only limited by your imagination.

  • Text – Straight text. Pure and simple. Could be the ad copy in a different language. Could be the hours of operation. Any textual data you want to communicate could be encoded in a QR Code.

  • URL – Launch a browser and go to a specific URL. That’s what can be done with an encoded URL. No one really likes entering letters from a 10-digit keypad. Why not use a barcode to embed the mobile-browser version of a site so that the mobile phone user does not need to key in the address. Once visited, the URL can be saved to the phone so it’s forever easy to reach the site. Perhaps there are special landing pages for specific promotions. The possibilities are endless.

So how do you go about creating a QR Code? Easy. I have included 3 sites which have FREE QR Code generators. The resulting bar code can be saved to a variety of formats for inclusion in a various graphic and word processi
ng applications:

All of this wonderful barcode magic happens when consumers install a QR Code reader on their phone. The good news here is that the readers are FREE. Nokia has gone so far as to include QR Code readers on some of their phones as an include application. If you need a reader for your camera phone, here are a couple of sites which will direct you to FREE readers:

So how d
oes all this apply to the customer service world?

Easy. It’s all about capturing the consumer and making the process to gaining information as easy as possible. Whether you want them to call, text or visit a web site, there’s a barcode that can be built for that. Want to make it easy for your contact info to go into someone’s address book? There’s a barcode that can be built for that. Want to use intelligent contact routing systems to identify who has scanned a QR Code to send an SMS or make a call, there’s a barcode that can be built for that.

Maybe the ideal usage is to capture the interest in an item via SMS scan code which, upon receipt in the contact center, is analyzed to determine the identity of the sender. Knowing who scanned the code, bus
iness rules are applied and an appropriate URL is sent via SMS back to the customer directing them to a specific URL. High value customers go to a different page and view different content than low value customers. Leveraging the existing customer segmentation model that is in place is very easy with QR Codes.

The bottom line is that consumers are relying on their mobile phone more and more. Why not take advantage of that and help put the mobile phone to use to capture interested consumers.

Imagine the buzz you could create by creatively using QR Codes within a promotion campaign. Wouldn’t it be great to have a QR Code refrigerator magnet that when scanned, ordered my favorite pizza to be delivered. I know a barcode can be made for that. I just wonder who will be the first pizza shop to send me the magnet.

If you want
to send me an e-mail to chat about creative ideas you have for using QR Codes, here’s my e-mail address:

If you would like help designing QR Codes into your Customer Service Delivery System, please call me regarding available consulting services: 602-492-1088

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