What to Look for in a QR Code Check-In System
QR codes are all over the place today. Even though the funny-looking images have been around for nearly 30 years, their popularity has surged in the last decade to the point where you’ll see QR (short for “quick response”) codes on television commercials, webpages, social media posts, mailers, receipts, and much more.
In the United States, 75.8 million people scanned a QR code in 2021, and that number is expected to jump to 99.5 million by 2025.1 The technology is no longer a novelty but, rather, an accepted tool American consumers use to connect with businesses.
That connection has found its way into virtual queue management systems, allowing customers to get their waiting experience off to an easy, familiar start. Here’s more about the basics of a QR code check-in system and the features you should seek when choosing a platform.
Checking In with a QR Code
A QR code is just the beginning of the process that a customer follows to use a virtual queue. Here’s a step-by-step look at how the system works on the front end:
Upon arriving at the service counter or waiting area, customers use their smartphones to scan a prominently displayed QR code that checks them into the system. Once the code is recognized, their browsers may ask for some basic information, such as their name, the service they seek, and any special needs they may have.
Good signage is obviously important to the check-in process. A QR code that is too small, blurry, or not easily located by customers could cause more confusion than what the system is trying to solve. This first step sets the stage for the entire queuing—and customer—experience, so be sure the signage is friendly, inviting, and stands out.
2. The Wait
Once customers have scanned the QR code and entered the queue, their wait for service begins. Unlike an ordinary, physical queue, people in a virtual queue don’t need to stand in a line or hang out in a waiting area. They are free to move around the store, go back to their cars, take a stroll, or get a cup of coffee.
As customers wait the ways they have chosen, the system sends updates to their phones about estimated wait times, unexpected delays, requests for additional information, and even promotional offers (more on that later). Notifications are sent via text message, and customers simply tap a link in the text to learn more.
3. It’s Your Turn
Eventually, the system will send a text notifying the customer that their turn is near and they should return to the service counter. By this time, employees already know what service you need and any special requests or circumstances. When you reach the counter, they’re ready to assist you—and, because they aren’t managing a physical queue, are better focused on just you.
Benefits of a QR Code Check-In System
A QR code check-in system is intended to be click and go—and the rest of the system is just as straightforward. Some of the benefits of this technology include:
- People have become familiar and comfortable with scanning QR codes on their phones. Moreover, they’re used to smartphones helping them in so much of their everyday lives—QR code check-in is another convenience they’ll appreciate.
- The system doesn’t require customers to download a separate app to use. People either scan the QR code with their phone’s camera or a QR reader (their choice), and all subsequent interactions are through a web browser or text message.
- Scanning the QR code and receiving confirmation reassures customers that they’re in the system. This is a big deal when compared to waiting areas where people are never quite sure if staff knows they’re waiting. The interactions during check-in and while customers wait show not only that you’ve acknowledged their presence but also that you’re anticipating serving them.
- When people aren’t stuck standing in line or tethered to a waiting area, and when you provide better service when their turn comes up—two clear customer benefits of a QR code check-in system—the customer experience inevitably improves. That leads to repeat business, positive online reviews, and better treatment of your employees.
With customers free to move about the store, they are also free to spend more while they wait. This, along with the improved customer experience, inevitably can increase sales. Besides these benefits, a QR code check-in system is modern. Customers may not always appreciate new technology, but they always appreciate outstanding service—with virtual queuing, you’re delivering that.
Essential Features to Look for in a QR Code Check-In System
The QR code check-in system you choose for your organization must be powerful to produce the efficiency you seek yet simple enough for customers and employees to navigate and embrace. Here are some of the must-have features that the best platforms offer:
Robust Configuration and Customization Options
No two businesses or organizations are alike in their queuing needs, floor layout, customer behavior, staff profiles, or a variety of many other factors. The best digital queue management systems provide plenty of options to configure the system and customize processes to your unique requirements.
Moreover, the software you choose should allow you to turn off functions that don’t apply to your needs. Employees might resist using the system if it seems too complex. A quality solution gives you exactly what you need, with room to scale as your operation evolves.
Ease of Use
Along the same lines, the virtual queuing system must be easy to use, from implementation to setup to what the customer sees on the front end to what employees are doing on the back end. If, for example, a customer can’t figure something out, they might give up on the system and approach the counter to demand help. Struggling employees might surrender and simply announce to the crowd, “The line starts here!”
Both of these scenarios defeat the purpose of the system. Therefore, the system you choose must deliver efficiency from the start. The key is adopting a platform that you can trust is doing everything right behind the scenes so that employees can focus on customers, and customers don’t have to sweat an uncomfortable, confusing wait.
Data and Analytics
When a customer scans the QR code, a journey of data begins. The best systems collect all sorts of analytics—including average wait times, average time needed to complete service, peak periods, when a customer might abandon the queue, and so on—that organizations can use to build an operational strategy that extends far beyond just queuing. For example, if walk-in customers to a tire shop are requesting a certain service more than others at a certain time, the business can better staff for that rush and train employees to become experts in that service.
With the reporting and analytics capabilities of a top-notch queuing platform, you can easily gather this data not only for the long term but also in real time. That means if the system is showing a surge of customers in progress and longer wait times, you can shift employees to help relieve the pressure.
As already mentioned, some platforms allow you to send promotional offers, digital coupons, and other news directly to customers’ phones while they wait. This can lead to more sales as you steer customers toward certain items (e.g., “Enjoy our holiday latte, for $1 off, at our coffee kiosk!). Moreover, the system can automatically trigger certain offers to be sent (e.g., “We’re sorry the wait is taking longer than expected; here’s a 10 percent off coupon to thank you for your patience.”).
Once someone enters the system, they remain in your system even after they’ve completed their business with you that day. With digital promotions, you can send coupons and advertising to their phones later—and tailor your messages based on what they did the last time(s) they visited your store.
A QR code check-in system may be modern, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Learn more in our guide, How to Avoid the Costs of Purchasing a Queue Management System
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