QR Code Example from the National Aquarium

The hot new thing in social media is QR codes. For those that don’t know, a QR (Quick Response) code is a barcode that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and phone with cameras. According to Wikipedia, “The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data.”

QR codes are more commonly being used in billboard ads like at bus stops or subway stations. Normally, after you use the QR reader, the phone app will automatically open your mobile phone’s web browser and direct you to the company’s website or landing page.

Jay Bear recently wrote in an article that many marketers and companies are missing the point or using QR codes because it’s the cool thing to do. And he is right, some companies are using it for the sake of using it.

I wanted to point out a nice example of a QR code/experience. I recently was at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. As I was wandering through the exhibits and I started to see small signs on some of the glass tanks with questions and QR codes.

When I reached the Puffin area, I whipped out my iPhone and gave it a try. The link directed me to a YouTube video called “How do our puffins stay happy?”

I was pretty delighted because taking advantage of this QR code enabled me to get the inside scope on the life of a Puffin from one of the National Aquarium experts. And this added a more enriched experience to already happy trip to see the Puffins and other aquatic animals.

There happened to be a National Aquarium intern near by, so I asked her how often people use the QR codes. She replied that only one or two people use them each day. However, after that initial person does it, there will be about five to ten people that will try it right after them. Sure enough, after talking to the intern, I turned around and there were three other people trying the QR code and watching the video on their phones.

What does this have to do with marketing? Simple, it’s all about the customer experience. This QR code experience helped improve my overall experience at the Aquarium. I went from being indifferent about Puffins to thinking Puffins are cutest and coolest animal ever.

QR codes can be great. But this doesn’t mean all great customer experiences need to come from the new shiny thing or trend. Great experiences can come from email, Facebook, Twitter or even over the phone. It’s up to companies to make sure that they giving people great experiences no matter what channels people are using.

Are you giving people a great customer experience?

Here a few more photos from my trip: