Transforming Support with QR Codes powered Digital Manuals

The lights on your color printer won’t stop blinking red. You’ve navigated the manufacturer’s website but you’re having trouble finding the right make and model, let alone the troubleshooting guide. If only you could get one-click access to a curated site for your specific machine.

What if there was a QR Code right on your printer that took you to a portal that was purpose-built for your specific make and model. One scan and you’re exactly where you want to be, with all the resources (and just the resources) for your product.

Using QR codes to activate custom digital manuals for products can be a convenient and efficient way to get product specific relevant information, when and where customers need it most.

With Openscreen Engage, manufacturers can easily create device-specific support flows that increase issue-resolution rates and client satisfaction. Here’s how:

  1. Design & Host Product Specific Digital Manuals
    Use Openscreen Engage’s Page and Form manager to drag-and-drop digital manuals for each of your products. They can include text instructions, images, diagrams, videos, or a combination of these elements.  They can also include content from your existing site but organized in a product-specific way. 
  2. Design, Generate & Print Branded QR Codes:
    Once your microsites are done, use the QR Code studio to design a branded QR Code that integrates seamlessly into your product’s look and feel.   Leverage the print wizard to generate sheets, rolls or even digital files to include ON your actual product.
  3. Clone Existing Manuals for New Products
    Openscreen Engage’s page and form cloning feature means you don’t have to start from scratch when you have new product SKUs.  Just clone the manual of an existing product and change what you need.  You’ll have QR Codes for your entire lineup, in minutes.
  4. Track Issues & Dynamically Optimize Your Manual
    With the Openscreen Engage dashboard and reporting function, you’ll be able to track the usage of your manuals with every scan and understand what products and issues are driving support requests.  Based on these insights, you can change your content at any time.
  5. Replenish, Cross-Sell and Upsell Too:
    Digital manuals don’t need to be used for support alone.  Give your customers links to order supplies, upgrade equipment or buy complementary products.  Leverage every interaction to drive more revenue.
  6. Add a Form for Customer Feedback
    Your digital manuals don’t have to stop at one-way content.  Using Openscreen Engage’s Form Manager, get feedback from your customers WHILE they’re using your products.  They’re the best to let you know how you can engineer a more perfect product and user experience.

By incorporating contextual QR codes ONTO your products, manufacturers can optimize the customer support experience while meaningfully reduce costs and time-to-resolution. 

To begin your free trial of Openscreen Engage for on product digital manuals, click here. 

Tracking the QR Opportunity

Introduction

Digital menus, product packaging, tickets, and identification – QR Codes seem everywhere now. Once an overlooked, clunky technology, QR Codes have had a recent resurgence. Thanks to COVID-19 and advancements in our mobile devices, QR adoption has gone mainstream in only a few short years. And even though global QR Code scans increased by 443% in 2022, we are still only scratching the surface of harnessing the true power and business augmentation that they provide.

If we think back to the inception of QR Codes, invented by Denso Wave in 1994, the original problem that led to this invention was that the Toyota subsidiary needed a more accurate way to track vehicles and parts during the manufacturing process. QR codes solved that problem. But they were still a little ahead of their time. The internet, mobile devices, and apps were just distant dreams. Only with these technological advances will the full potential of QR Codes be realized. Today, the combination of this new technology with QR codes provides limitless potential for frictionless asset management solutions. While many applications have emerged to tackle a wide variety of QR Code-powered use cases, when used correctly, QR Codes provide a superior asset management experience around initiating, tracking, managing and enabling enterprise supply chains in diverse industries.

Controlling QR “State”

One of the features that QR Codes offer is immense versatility. With this inherent level of flexibility comes more possible applications and use cases. It’s important to see through the “QR Noise” and identify areas where QR Codes truly add value and are not a marketing gimmick. Enabling supply chains is just that — an area where QR Code technology provides a well-positioned foundation to build robust solutions, enabling key stakeholders to have timely information as assets flow through their supply chain. When it comes to an asset moving through a supply chain, whether that’s an automobile part, router, soil sample, or medical instruments tray, there are common themes. First, security and authentication – who will be able to access the information stored on that QR code? How will the security be enforced? Will there be different roles or access delegation? Does the asset’s status, quantity, location, condition, and value change over its life? These are all relevant questions that Openscreen can help solve and manage when using our platform to automate and enable your supply chain. While we are all familiar with the QR code that scans to a website, in many cases a QR code may be needed but the data, workflow, or destination may not be known. Openscreen’s platform can create “inactive” QRs, which can be appended to any asset. Once the data or workflows are defined, the QR code is simply scanned to initiate it and registered as active. All subsequent scans would follow the programmed workflows. Openscreen’s ability to change the status and workflow of a QR code as it moves through your supply chain facilitates the creation of powerful tracking enablement solutions. And our flexibility makes it easy to rapidly integrate this functionality into your mission-critical supply chain processes.

Controlling QR “View”

One of the biggest challenges with robust tracking applications is mobility and internet connectivity. Without an internet connection, many platforms fail. Openscreen Track is a solution that allows you to capture data without a live internet connection and then post that data when a connection is available. Openscreen Track can also create access restrictions that control who can access which data points. A manufacturer, vendor, or customer scanning the same QR code would have different permissions, workflows, and ultimately end views. To illustrate this point further, take an automobile part as an example. As it passes through its lifecycle from manufacturing to a final consumer, the company’s authenticated users will want to see and access different pieces of information than what will be relevant to consumers and the public. Openscreen Track makes this level of dual visibility possible and easy.

Blue background image with car part scanned to phone to register

 

It’s Not ALL About the QR

As our CTO reminds our team and our clients, “The QR Code is just the front door in.” What does he mean exactly by this? Well, QR Codes are a great entry point for causing a specific intent to occur, i.e., bringing a user to a specific URL or website, but that’s just the beginning; it’s the logic, foundation, and set of valuable micro-services built behind the QR that really allow the magic to happen. The Openscreen platform has been built as a developer-first platform and has been architected with 5 core objects (Scans, Assets, QR Codes, Messages, & Contacts).  These building blocks can be rapidly stitched together to enable powerful tracking solutions for enterprises. Nuvolinq, an IoT service provider, uses Openscreen’s QR platform to track, manage, and submit service calls for their routers. The QR code used by support staff to register a router is the same QR code used by customers to submit a trouble ticket. The workflows change, but the QR code remains constant. From sending a message to specific contacts upon a QR scan to triggering a status change from “inactive” to “active”, sending and receiving goods, transferring ownership, and changing data points, Openscreen’s Track solution can help businesses enable their supply chains quickly while reducing costs, automating mission-critical processes, and putting valuable business insights at management’s fingertips. Try it today for free at www.openscreen.com or reach out to us at sales@openscreen.com to learn more!

Why QR Codes Underachieve

A few weeks ago, Tobi Lutke, the founder and CEO of Shopify, tweeted a short but accurate assessment of the state of QR Codes today. It went like this:

“The west is still using QRCodes totally wrong. A QRCode on a restaurant table that opens the menu is not really what we want. A QRCode can be unique to the table and allow food ordering directly to it. Should carry state and context.”.

He hit the nail on the head. But like so many tweets, the brevity of the message left the universe begging for a further explanation of what he meant. As you might have guessed, I’m going to give it a try:

West versus East

The tweet starts out by calling out “the west” for misusing QR Codes. That’s a reference to how “the east” has been using QR Codes more broadly and purposefully for years. In Asia – most notably China – QR Codes have been used across many diverse applications. They’re placed on products to authenticate provenance and brand, they’re used for payment for goods and services, they are in advertising, job recruitment and are also used for identity and wellness verification.

Employing QR

Codes for applications like these require them to be ‘smarter’ than the QR Codes we see on things like restaurant menus and store signs today. They need to be secure, and often need to capture data about the scanner (who, what, where, when, etc…). They also need to be produced at scale. Think about producing a QR Code that dynamically represented an individual and their vaccine status. This QR would need to be integrated to a medical record system, its response would change dynamically according to someone’s changing vaccination status.

State

Implementing a QR Code where results can change dynamically start to hint at Tobi’s recommendation that QR Codes carry state. For example, if a QR Code carries a state of “unvaccinated”, then scanning an individual’s QR Code might direct a browser to a warning. Changing that state to “first dose” received might render an altogether different response if that same QR Code was scanned again.  You get the idea.

Codes like these are often called Dynamic QR Codes, which simply means that the result of scanning them can dynamically change based on an underlying attribute of what that code represents. Dynamic QR Codes are also trackable and can be edited whereas Static QR Codes – like the restaurant menu example – cannot be tracked and the destination/landing page cannot be changed.

Context

Lutke also paired Context with State in his wish for better codes.   Where State might represent something about the underlying thing a QR Code represents (e.g.: a bottle of rare whiskey), Context could represent something about the scan action itself.   Context could be something like:

  • The date and time the scan took place

  • The number of times the code has been scanned

  • The location and device from which the scan was made

Context can deliver valuable information to the maker of the QR Code and other stakeholders. In essence, Context adds another layer of value to Dynamic and Static QR Codes.

Openscreen and the Explosion of the Dynamic QR

We’re believers that QR Codes can be put to broader and better use in the “west”, so to speak. Across Health Care, Marketing, Authentication, Supply Chain and many other applications, Dynamic QR Codes can deliver secure, robust, and powerful digitization of the physical world. With our platform and developer tools, we are helping companies integrate this type of functionality into their mission-critical applications.

As for your tweet Toby, we wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for putting out the call to action and we hope you keep an eye on us as we set out to change the way QR Codes are used in everyday life.

Enhancing Agriculture with QR Codes

Some experts suggest that if we don’t figure out a way to improve agricultural output by 2050, this planet will have more people than it can feed. That’s a scary, but not completely unrealistic thought. In response to that, almost every aspect of farming and agriculture undergoing some level of transformation using technology. After all, our current and future generations may depend on it.

The Importance of Good Soil

I recently came across the Netflix documentary “Kiss the Ground”. It takes a multifaceted view of the importance of soil management to promote better food outcomes, optimize our use of resources, and decrease our carbon footprint.  Many of us know that soil can trap carbon dioxide emissions, but I was surprised to learn that healthier soil is must more effective at the task.  Technology has become an important tool in measuring and improving the quality of soil around the world.

Agronomists and Soil Collection

Agronomists, the professionals who practice in the science and management of agriculture, collect soil for quality testing. This practice is becoming more important as farmers aim to get more out of their land. Soil is collected, sent to a lab, and analyzed on a regular basis.  Resulting data can drive better seed prescriptions, fertilizer recommendations, and even generate valuable carbon credits for farmers. Yet, surprisingly, soil collection is a very manual process. Agronomists often use clipboards and paper to capture data when they head out to fields, leaving actual data entry to technicians who receive samples at the lab.

Openscreen, QR Codes, and Agriculture Technology

We see QR Codes as an effective way to automate the agronomist’s soil-collection lifecycle. From field to lab, serialized QR Codes can allow soil collectors to scan a bag at the point of collection. From there, important data like time and location can automatically be captured, while the QR Code can be programmed to bring the agronomist to a data collection app. Then, workflows in the app can track the bag every time it is scanned, as seed prescriptions are generated, and carbon credits are accumulated.

Openscreen’s powerful SDK provides an easy way to generate unique, trackable QR Codes at scale, which can be used to digitize agriculture technology. As manual tasks like soil collection become important elements of our food supply chain, leveraging contactless technology like QR Codes throughout the lifecycle can provide quality, assurance, speed, and advanced reporting for all stakeholders involved.

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