Beyond the Brochure: QR Code Initiative
The Quick Response Code (QR Code) is a mobile phone readable barcode that gained popularity in Japan, spread to Europe a few years ago, and is now gaining traction in the USA. In the simplest sense, a QR code is a print based hyperlink that when scanned takes the mobile phone user directly to a designated webpage or message.
To capitalize on this trend, the City of San Jose has developed an innovative program that takes QR Codes beyond the brochure in focused effort to increase customer contact, market programs, and improve customer retention. Specialist Avan Duong created a scavenger hunt that encourages customers to explore our recreation centers in search of hidden QR codes, one of which is entitles the finder to a special prize. Staff keeps an eye out for “hunters”, providing guidance when needed, along with more information about programs and services available in each room. The codes and prizes change monthly to encourage repeat visits and to direct customers to timely course information.
When a QR code is found, the participant scans it using a mobile device and is linked to a variety of resources including the Department’s webpage, a specific class registration form, an interest survey, our Facebook page, etc. These sites can be easily “bookmarked” on the mobile device for future use. The special QR code directs the finder to contact a staff member for their prize.
Most of the prizes are logo items such as water bottles or t-shirts that help to further promote our programs. One of our favorite prizes is a free fitness assessment. Customers value the personal attention and it provides an opportunity for staff to inquire about personal goals, motivations, and needs. Feedback from this process has led to the development of five new classes at the Roosevelt Community Center, generating over $2,475 in additional revenue per session. The biggest surprise was a Zumba class that now averages between 60 and 100 participants on Friday nights, a time that was traditionally difficult to program.
We expected the program to be popular with tech-oriented youth and younger adults, but the QR code program has proven to be surprisingly popular with out senior program as well. Staff now provides access to the month senior nutrition menu via QR code, helping to reduce the cost of printing. Staff remarked that teaching seniors how to download and use the QR readers was a bit time consuming at first, but that participants were eager to learn and that they built better relationships as part of the process.
A recent campaign really drove home the idea of increasing staff contact by turning our employees into walking QR codes with a “Scan me” t-shirt.
The return on investment has been amazing. In the first six months of the program, the repeat rate increased by 14% and we have a number of promising new classes in the Winter brochure that were developed based on customer feedback from the QR program.
The program cost little more than a few hours of staff time and the investment in some branded material to give away as prizes. In return, we have built better customer relations, increased awareness of our programs, and discovered new class opportunities.