I Want QR Code Videos, Not Assembly Manuals
My wife's doctor suggested she use an exercise bike to recover from recent knee surgery. The one we wound up buying had a QR code on the box which takes you to a promotional video (the link is embedded in the QR code shown on the left).
I didn't watch the promo video before buying the bike and I'll bet most other prospective customers don't bother with it either. It's nice to see manufacturers using QR code technology, but I can think of a much better application than on-box advertising: enhancing or replacing the assembly manual.
When I opened the box I found it contained the typical assortment of screws, nuts, washers, all the various parts of the bike and, of course, an assembly manual. I hate assembly manuals. They're often too vague and sometimes even include the wrong information.
A video, on the other hand, is generally worth a thousand assembly manual words. Rather than providing me with poorly-written assembly instructions, why not show me how each part fits together? Manufacturers could either simply add QR codes to the written instructions or dump the print instructions completely and just have a code on the box. For viewing purposes, my iPhone is always handy and something like this would be far more useful than most of the hundreds of thousands of App Store products.
OK, I know everyone doesn't have a smartphone and some people would prefer to read the steps, not watch them; for those people, provide a url where written (and up-to-date!) instructions can be downloaded and printed.
When I replaced the cracked screen on my daughter's iPhone awhile back I followed video instructions, not written ones. I simply watched a step, pressed pause, did that step on my own, pressed play again, etc. That's exactly what I'd prefer doing for any sort of assembly project.
There's another benefit to manufacturer's with this option: they could ask every customer to register on their website. I would have gladly given my email address for access to assembly videos for that bike, enabling the manufacturer to follow-up with me later with cross-sell and up-sell messages.
This idea isn't just for assembly manuals though, of course. QR codes could be used in owner's manuals (how do I replace a broken tailight bulb on my car?) or any sort of how-to guide (how do I fix a leaky faucet?). Yes, there's a cost associated with creating all these videos, but it's a terrific opportunity to (a) provide more help to customers and (b) establish a direct relationship with those customers.
Nice thoughts, but problematic. The issue is that not all consumers have the same access to or familiarity with technology. QR codes are great for those who (a) have smartphones with (b) a QR app installed and (c) actually know what QR codes are and (d) are comfortable using them and (e) prefer to view video instructions instead of printed ones. That narrows down the audience a bit. My father, as an example, doesn't have a smartphone, has no idea what a QR code is, couldn't figure out how to use it if he did, and wants time to read (re: pour over) written instructions. Go all QR/video, and you end up with a large percentage of very dissatisfied customers -- and a high returns rate.
Heck, why do you think written instructions have so many pictures? Because there's a subset of the audience that either can't or doesn't want to read the text! Instructions pretty much have to play to the lowest common denominator. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't supplement traditional printed (or picture) instructions with video how-tos; that's a great idea, and I've found those videos useful, too. You just can't replace them.
Posted by: Michael Miller | November 15, 2010 at 10:47 AM
Hi Mike. Totally agree. That's why I suggested manufacturers provide links to the written instructions for downloading/printing as well. You're right though that some people won't have a computer or internet connection, so perhaps the printed materials have to remain with us.
Either way, there's no reason manufacturers can't provide both written instructions *and* videos. It's similar to how many of these manuals come in multiple languages. I prefer the language of video now though, so I'd appreciate a quick way to watch the assembly steps on my smartphone.
Posted by: Joe Wikert | November 15, 2010 at 03:53 PM