QR Codes to the Rescue

I think a lot about performance support tools and how to integrate them into the environment so that they are available at the time of need. Lately I’ve been thinking about how strategically placed QR codes could serve as a vehicle for performance support.

I discovered the perfect opportunity to test this out.

My favorite pizzeria stocks games for patrons to play. My son was attracted to the Candy Land game so we got all the pieces out to get started, but there were no instructions. This is the case with many of the games there. The instructions get lost. After searching for a while on my phone I was able to locate official rules for Candy Land so we could set up.

It occurred to me then that QR codes could be a handy performance support tool. Patrons could use their phones to scan the code and be directed to the official rules. I went home to test out my idea. I used the Kaywa QR Code generator to create this QR code:

Scan the code for official Candy Land Rules

This was the first right answer. Next I needed to challenge my idea to make sure I wasn’t just finding a use for my new toy. What were some of the other possibilities?

  1. Could we just print the instructions and tape them to the inside of the box? This could work for a while, but eventually they would tear or come out and get lost again. Printing and reprinting costs could be an issue because they have about 50 games in stock  and most instruction sheets are at least 2 pages.
  2. Could we “ruggedize” the instructions? What if we printed and laminated the instructions so they wouldn’t be accidentally thrown away or damaged? They could still get separated and would require maintenance to reunite lost instructions with the game. Lamination costs would be an issue.
Advantages of the QR Code:
  • It is relatively small and can be securely fixed to the game box with packing tape, making it low maintenance and sustainable.
  • You can fit about 6-8 QR codes to each printed page, reducing printing costs by about 93%.
  • The code can take the user to a page with rules in English and Spanish.
  • The pizzeria uses a QR code-based loyalty program called Punchd, so most patrons will already have experience scanning QR codes.
Disadvantages of the QR Code:
  • The urls for the web-based instructions could change unexpectedly.
  • Not everyone has a smart phone.
  • Some patrons might not have experience scanning QR codes.

My feeling at this point was that the QR codes were the way to go. The next step was to approach the owner of the shop and volunteer to code a few of the most popular games as a pilot to see if patrons used them and appreciated them.

The owners loved the idea! We now have codes in place for Candy Land, Monopoly, and Connect Four. We’ll be adding a few at a time until all of the games are coded. I’ll post updates as the feedback comes in.

Has anyone else found a way to use QR codes to support performance? I’d love to hear how you used them.

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2 thoughts on “QR Codes to the Rescue

  1. When offered as an option to encourage people to interact by providing a carrot of “easy”, QR codes can be a great tool.

    One of the coolest uses of QR codes I’ve seen is by our campus facilities engineering group. The group noticed a couple of things:

    1) When dormitory washing machines would malfunction, folks wouldn’t report the malfunction for days. Logging into the trouble reporting system or calling a number was inconvenient.

    2) Just about all of the students have a smart phone on their person, all of the time.

    So in addition to the phone and trouble reporting contact, the staff attached a QR code with simple instructions to each washing machine. Reading the QR code takes you to a customized form that autofills most of the information, asks a simple question and provides a super fast submission of the trouble report.

    I think this type of use, one that incentivizes reporting of an issue or speeds access to contextualized information, is the real boon of the QR code.

    • That’s a really nice example Steve. I’m a big fan of making tasks as easy as possible. A little effort on our part to make it easy really can increase participation or compliance. I’m much more likely to complete a purchase if I see the PayPal icon or create an account if I can sign in via Facebook. The effort is definitely worth it.

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