Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: QR Codes and Virtual Agents

Quick Response codes, or QR codes, have been around for quite some time. The announcement of QR codes was released in 1994, but during that time they were mainly used to track parts for vehicle manufacturers in Japan. Today, QR codes are used in a variety of ways. For example, many marketers utilize QR codes in their strategies, as well as commercial tracking, product labeling, etc. 

With the rise of the smart phones, the use of mobile recognition technology has risen as well. It is predicted that by 2015, there will be double the amount of money invested into mobile recognition technology (364 million dollars) and a large part of this includes QR codes. QR codes are gaining popularity because it is a quick way to scan and get information. In other words, it is an easy to use resource for end users. 

Offering access to a Virtual Agent through scanning a QR code is a great tip for companies looking to elevate their customer service and support strategies. Providing consumers with Virtual Agents via a QR code gives them more power to make an informed decision about the product of interest. Consumer knowledge is key to gaining new customers and creating loyalty. 

QR codes are just one way to access a Virtual Agent via your mobile device. In addition to native mobile apps, and mobile friendly VAs, there are other alternatives that might appeal to your company's target audience. Some alternatives include:
  1. SMS short codes 
  2. Augmented reality apps
  3. UPC bar code reader
  4. Bluetooth and NFC (nearfield communication)
To give you an example of one of the alternatives to QR codes, Bluetooth and NFC work like a sensor. When you walk near or through these "sensors", they trigger a notification to be sent to your mobile phone. (More information about NFC can be found here.) For a Virtual Agent, the notification can range from a personal virtual shopper, a virtual assistant, information on products, or limited time coupons to entice consumers to purchase products on the spot.   

In short, mobile recognition technology (whether it be QR codes, SMS short codes, etc.) are an important part of a mobile strategy. Monitoring the target audience and adapting to what the consumer wants is essential when adopting mobile strategies.  How does your company make it easy for customers to interact with your brand via mobile device? Does your strategy include QR codes or apps? Share your mobile marketing or support strategy here.