QR codes can open doors for service centers

Automotive service professionals looking for new ways to market their repair facility and interact with customers should consider their options when it comes to QR codes.

QR, or quick response, codes are essentially barcodes that can be read by smartphones. Since nearly everyone has a smartphone today, QR codes also represent an opportunity for businesses to advertise and interact with current and potential customers. The key, however, is making QR codes more than just the digital equivalent of junk mail. Unfortunately, as a survey from DMEautomotive points out, most professional service centers aren't utilizing QR codes to their full potential.

"Given the massive adoption of smartphones, it's no wonder that mobile apps and QR codes are very hot topics in automotive marketing," said Doug Van Sach, vice president of strategy & analytics at DMEautomotive. "But our survey reveals that businesses that adopt cutting-edge technologies and then feed people irrelevant sales messages, or generic product/business info, are wasting the customer's time and money. People demand real, tangible value, like coupons and discounts, and functionality that will make their lives easier, like instant online appointment scheduling and timely service reminders."

Of survey respondents who scanned a QR code at a repair facility during 2012, nearly half (44 percent) were taken to a webpage intended to give more information on a product. This is essentially like a customer going out of their way to be taken to a commercial, and as sales figures for digital recording devices should make clear, no one's interested in watching more commercials. The good news is, the survey reports that less than a fifth of automotive repair facility customers scanned a QR code during 2012. This means there's a large, untapped market out there for automotive service professionals to pounce on. However, in order to do so, service centers need to understand the right way to use QR codes.

QR code dos and don'ts
The most important thing to remember when utilizing QR codes is that customers should feel rewarded for scanning them. Being taken to a webpage advertising services or products feels like a trick, not a reward. However, if professional service centers were to use QR codes as a way for customers to obtain coupons or information about special promotions, they're more likely to use them and tell others about them.

In addition to deals, customers want useful information. Creating QR codes designed to provide drivers with information about regular maintenance and repair checks after a certain number of miles is a great way to both interact with customers and have them come in on a more regular basis.