If you walk into a restaurant, a retail store, any sporting or entertainment venue or if you travel to places where people gather, chances are you will be greeted by a big square box. In many cases, our friendly first impressions have been replaced by a finger pointing towards a QR code. Scan this QR code before you enter, scan this QR code before we serve you, scan this QR code to read our menu.

In fact, just the other day I took my dad for breakfast to a casual beachside café. We scanned the QR code to confirm our location. We scanned another QR code to view the menu. We then placed our order online and did not speak to a human once. There was plenty of staff clearing tables and making coffees and food, but no one greeted us and no one asked us a question because they didn’t need to.

We all know why QR codes are important, I am not disputing this. The point here is that another step has been added to the customer service journey. This means that customers are doing the work of checking in and staff are not creating that initial human connection.

Businesses that focus on customer service have deemed the introduction of the QR code as an opportunity to encourage service professionals to step forward in service i.e. additional time with a customer to get to know them and ask questions.

Businesses that use the QR code to step back in service use it as a replacement to the initial greeting—an excuse even. They let the QR code do all the talking and allow the systems, rules and new processes to act as a hindrance rather than to help.

For a connection in service to be present, most people need to feel seen, heard and made to feel like they are important. Using QR codes alone is getting in the way of this connection—don’t let this happen.

We have a principle in training and facilitating that is connection before content.

A helpful principle in customer service is connection before QR codes.

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