The field of customer service is very different than it was a couple of years ago. For instance, follow up meant calling your customer after the order. Now follow up may also mean having a QR code for your business. Social media and mobile communication are moving so fast it’s hard to keep up with the changes, but if you want to deliver the best customer service you will have to keep up with the trends.Customer service has made so many changes and taken so many new paths it’s hard to know where to begin. Consider the following interview as another way to look at your follow up and customer service.
Interview with Irene Williams, owner of QRHere, LLC
While at Crossville’s booth at Surfaces, I noticed that several of their products had QR (Quick Response) codes; this was the first time I had seen codes used in this way. I turned around and ran into Irene Williams, digital marketing communications and copywriting expert and developer of Crossville’s QR code program and accompanying smart phone app. I’d previously connected with Irene on Facebook, and was finally going to talk with her about her new venture, QRHere, LLC. I must admit, I thought I was up on most things, and then I had a conversation with Irene ; she’s light years ahead of me.
For those of you new to the topic, QR codes are a kind of 2-dimensional bar code. You may hear the phrase “mobile tag” referring to these marks as well. These codes bring digital content to the physical world. Using an app on your smart phone you can scan these QR codes or mobile tags, and you’ll be immediately taken to digital information—very often a web page.
With QRHere, Irene has created a way to make QR codes true Customer Relationship Management tools. While the experience with most QR readers ends on a history log on the smart phone, Irene’s app connects to an online account. When someone with an account scans an item on the smart phone, that information can be revisited later online. That’s a pretty handy feature for anyone selecting tile products. On the flip side, the brand that created the code—in this case, Crossville—is able to better understand what products are getting interest in the market and to know what specific customers are interested in.
That’s a lot of information from one little digitized square on the back of a tile sample!
Irene has been in marketing and PR for 19 years, 13 of those with a niche in the tile/flooring industries. I couldn’t help but ask her a few questions about her QR code venture.
Irene, how did you get into this?
If you’re a marketer today, how would you not get into this? We are now living in a relationship economy. The interactions—the relationships—we build with our customers have value and bring long-term rewards. I was an early adopter of social media and started leading social media programs for my clients because companies simply must be part of the conversation to succeed today. Social media and mobile marketing are extensions and new incarnations of the traditional PR and promotions we’ve all used for so long. It’s just that these modern tools enable us to be constantly present in our customers’ lives in more substantive ways. What an opportunity!
How are people adapting to this technology?
Just as social media grew really fast, the use of smart phones and other mobile devices are taking hold quickly. People across the board, regardless of demographic, are awakening to the power of the smart phone as a tool that makes life easier. Of course, some businesses are still slow to connect what this can mean for their marketing and consumer engagement. All age groups and all types of people are increasing in smart phone use, and brands that are future-focused are going to make the most of this kind of ceaseless connectivity.
How are the QR codes being used?
The QR Code can hold much more information than traditional bar codes, and you can get to that information by using a QR code reader app on your smart phone. QR codes were invented in Japan by Denso-Wave in 1994 to track parts during auto manufacturing, but they eventually caught on at the consumer level. Today QR codes are widely used in Japan where smart phone usage took hold early on, increasingly popular in Europe and now they’ve really hit the U.S. You’re seeing these codes used in a variety of ways here in the U.S.—in publishing, retail, real estate—anywhere marketers want to connect in the moment with consumers by taking them to web pages, v-cards, YouTube videos, whatever digital content they want to share!
I’ve even heard of QR codes being used on gravestones, scan the code with your smart phone and get the life story of the person being memorialized right there, in the moment. Obviously, the possibilities are endless!
Why would a business want to use QR codes?
Think of every QR code as another sales person out in the world representing your brand. In the moment, when a customer is showing interest, the QR code can take them to deeper information that may help inspire a purchase. QR codes basically invert the lead retrieval process, letting your customers immediately get the details they want for specific products, services or displays. And once companies realize how simple QR codes are to work with, the barriers for use really start to fade.
You’ve taken it a step further with your QRhere.biz
As a marketer of the digital age, I was immediately enamored by QR codes and knew a hundred uses for them out of the chute. However, I also saw some opportunities to deepen their use both for marketers and consumers. That’s why I launched my biz, QRHere—to close the loop and make QR code usage really valuable all around.
With my system, marketers can easily create and manage their code inventories. They also get a custom, branded mobile app that their consumers download to their phones to scan all relevant product codes. With the online component and the custom mobile app, marketers will not only know when a code gets scanned, they can know who scanned—in real-time. They can track activity by product, zip code or by individual consumer. That level of data is immensely valuable. For consumers, my system lets people create their own portfolios of information that can be revisited anytime on roomier screens beyond their smart phones. They can share what they scan socially, immediately request more information from the brand or business, and they have more reasons to interact with products and make purchasing decisions.
This is a good idea for most anyone wishing to get their message out.
I believe my biz empowers both marketer and consumer to really get the specific information they need and want. And that’s the ultimate representation of where the marketplace is going as a whole—more targeted, direct messaging customized to the recipient at every turn. The future is here, and everyone who hopes to sell stuff to modern consumers better be “Quick to Respond”!!
Personally I”m most fascinated with the QR code on the tombstone; does this mean I will be working forever?
Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide customer service and sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.