In this two-part article, we are discussing how to get more data and more high-quality data for your organization or company. In the first part we outlined three tips: (1) electronic feedback kiosks (which, incidentally, we at Pulse For Good can help you with), (2) online exit surveys, and (3) online consumer review sites.
Here in the second and final part, we’ll talk about QR codes, social media feedback, and a final approach that may be considered old-school but is still very effective—personal contact.
The QR code (short for “quick response”) was invented in 1994 by Denso Wave, a corporate division of Denso, which was a subsidiary of carmaker Toyota Motor Corporation. The QR code is really just an evolution of the barcode (which dates back to the mid-1970s) and was first used in fairly specialized roles, such as tracking car parts on Toyota’s manufacturing assembly lines. So, QR codes aren’t necessarily new, but they certainly seem to be enjoying a celebrity moment. The little checkerboard-like medallions seem to be everywhere, from food packaging to shop windows to bumper stickers. Why? Because QR code technology turns any camera-equipped smartphone into a barcode reader, and can whisk your customers or employees away to a survey, website, special offer, or to whatever online destination you want.
If QR codes have a drawback, it may be that they seem cryptic or mysterious to the technologically uninitiated. How do they work? Where do they come from? How do you incorporate them into your process and products?
The good news is QR codes aren’t very difficult to work with. First, how do QR codes work? The QR code is usually just a graphical representation of a URL—the online address for a website, social media page, or other online resource. A smartphone camera reads the QR code and sends the URL to a web browser or social media app. The user experience is instantaneous, and they don't have to do anything complicated or even slightly inconvenient, such as writing down an Instagram handle, cutting and pasting a URL, nor even opening their own web browser. The QR code and the phone do all the work.
Second, how do you make a QR code? It’s easy, but you need an app or computer program first. Fortunately, there are many free and low-cost, QR code apps (this recent round-up of high-quality QR codes can get you started: https://sourceforge.net/software/qr-code-generators/).
So, you download the QR code generator app, tell the app what you want your QR code to do, and then it will give you back the QR code graphic. This brings us to the third question: how do you incorporate QR codes? Well, it’s just a graphic, similar to any logo or photo—you place it wherever you want people to see it. One of the great things about QR codes is that as long as a smartphone can capture the entire code within its view, the QR code will go to work. In other words, the QR code can be displayed in many different ways (on the screen of a smartphone, in a magazine ad, on a computer monitor, etc.), and it can be displayed at virtually any size (from a tiny version on a biz card to a giant-sized code on a billboard or movie screen).
Once you’ve figured out how to use QR codes, don’t be surprised if you start plastering them all over your products, correspondence, and business materials. They quickly and painlessly transport your clients and customers wherever you want them to be, including places where you’re collecting feedback (surveys, intake forms, polls, etc.).
Don’t forget that while you might think of your social media platforms as instruments to distribute and disburse information, they also make excellent tools to gather information. According to 2022 data, Americans are spending just a little over 2 hours per day (126 minutes, to be exact) on social media these days. This means the people you want desperately to hear from are already hanging out online for long periods, and most of them are full of opinions. Make your social media presence compelling, and many of your customers or clients will come to you with their feedback without being asked.
If you’re looking for unsorted, qualitative data, you can ask informal questions and requests in the form of social media posts (“What do you think of our new dessert menu?” “Have you been to our new location?” “Please post your photos of Saturday’s event with our hashtag!”). Collect this data and curate it—it will come in handy the next time you roll out a new menu, location, or event. And, of course, don’t forget to regularly monitor, curate, and utilize the passive comments, posts, and reviews that appear on all your social media platforms.
If you want to be more proactive in collecting feedback, you can post actual surveys or polls on your social media platforms. Just bear in mind that although the average social media surfer is killing massive amounts of time online, they have the attention span of a hummingbird—the ideal social-media post length is ridiculously short, less than fifty characters on Facebook, for example. So, keep it short and sweet if you want a useful number of responses. Also remember that any data you collect from a social media survey is completely self-selected, and so the data may have less value than more-rigorous efforts.
Electronic codes and website pop-ups can greatly improve your feedback-gathering efforts because once you’ve got them set up and deployed, they’re relatively hands-off and fuss-free.
However, not all customers like to be prodded, questioned, or observed by computers and electronic devices.
Sometimes the personal approach is the best approach. Reaching out to your customers via telephone—like they did in the old days—still works today. After developing a feedback instrument, such as a customer-satisfaction poll or a demographic data survey, making phone calls would be a great task for a volunteer or intern.
Personal contact can also be real-life and in person. Customers on a showroom floor can be quickly and unobtrusively polled by a worker with an electronic kiosk device, for example. Office management personnel can ask clients about their experience upon entering or exiting.
As with all data-collection efforts, be sure to use your customers’ contact info very judiciously and respectfully. Let them know exactly how you’ll use their data. Finally, follow all relevant laws and regulations regarding contacting consumers over the phone (the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 and the tenets of General Data Protection and Regulation to name two).