QR codes pop up in all sorts of places, with many now designed to entice people to launch a customer feedback survey. 

In this guide, we examine the benefits of the QR code survey approach, the mechanics of making it happen, and best practices that ensure you optimize your results.

What is a QR code?

A QR code, short for ‘Quick Response code’, is a two-dimensional barcode that contains information that can be easily scanned and read by smartphones and other devices with cameras. 

QR codes are typically square shaped, consisting of a pattern of black squares on a white background. QR codes can encode text, URLs, contact information, or even multimedia content such as videos or images. 

When scanned using a QR code reader app or a device with a built-in scanner, the code is decoded, and the information it contains is accessed.

How popular and accepted are QR codes?

QR codes are very popular owing to their versatility and ease of use. They are frequently found on product packaging, advertisements, websites, and all kinds of physical objects.

QR codes have become particularly prevalent in mobile marketing and payment systems, as they provide a convenient and efficient way to bridge the physical and digital worlds. According to Juniper Research, global spending through QR codes will reach $3 trillion by 2025. Among the more common commercial applications for QR codes include:

  • Hygienic, contactless interactions such as accessing digital menus at restaurants.
  • Making rapid mobile payments by scanning codes at point-of-sale terminals. 
  • Engaging customers to consume additional marketing material such as product information, discounted offers, and social media sign-ups.
  • More detailed consumer information on product packaging such as usage and assembly tutorials, warranties, and serving suggestions.
  • Paperless, verified ticketing for entertainment venues, sporting events, and travel.
  • Wayfinding and orientation information for tenants and visitors to campuses, resorts, apartment complexes, commercial buildings and event spaces.
  • Dynamic QR codes are also used as an additional security authentication measure to prevent unauthorized access to data.

What is a QR code survey?

A QR code survey utilizes QR codes as the launchpad to collecting feedback responses from participants. 

It’s an increasingly popular alternative to issuing traditional paper-based surveys, email surveys, social media polls, or directing people to online forms. 

QR code surveys put respondents in control of accessing and completing survey questions by scanning a QR code with their smartphone or other device.

scanning QR codes

How does a QR code survey work?

QR code surveys happen when the feedback survey you’ve created is associated with a QR code and then made available to participants who then scan the code, access the survey and complete the question/s. 

Let’s break that down into 4 simple stages:

Stage 1: Generate the QR code

Once you’ve got your customer feedback survey ready in a platform like Customer Thermometer, simply generate a QR code to associate with its URL. There are plenty of free tools that will do this for you.

Stage 2: Display the QR code where you want people to see it

Place it on physical materials such as posters, flyers, brochures, or even digital platforms like websites or social media.

Stage 3: Respondents scan the QR code

All they’ll need is an internet-connected smartphone (with a camera), and scanning the QR code will take them straight to the survey link or form.

Stage 4: Respondents complete the QR survey

They answer the survey questions on their mobile devices, with responses automatically collected and analyzed.

We go into lots more detail about creating a QR code survey in a later section of this guide.

What are the benefits of using QR codes for feedback surveys?

QR code feedback surveys are so popular precisely because they offer a wealth of advantages. In fact, compared to some survey methods, it’s easy to see why QR code surveys can lead to higher response rates, more contextual data insights and positive customer engagement.

Here are 5 of the biggest benefits of using QR code surveys:

Anytime, anywhere convenience

Because smartphones are ubiquitous, practically all participants can scan the code anytime, anywhere, eliminating the need for manual entry of survey URLs or searching for web links. This accessibility increases the likelihood of participation.

Saves time and effort

QR codes allow participants to quickly access the survey, saving time and effort compared to traditional paper-based surveys. With a simple scan, participants can immediately start providing feedback, making the process more efficient. They don’t have to ‘sign in’ either, and the whole experience is contactless and therefore hygienic.

Versatility and flexibility

QR codes can be placed on virtually any physical surface or digital platform, providing the utmost flexibility in survey distribution. This versatility allows surveys to reach participants at multiple touchpoints and capture their feedback at different stages throughout the customer journey.

Rich multimedia capabilities

QR codes can be used to incorporate more than just links to a survey. It’s possible to include multimedia elements too so participants can access videos, images, or interactive content by scanning the code, making the survey experience more engaging and providing additional context for their responses.

Supreme contextual understanding

QR codes can be a useful tool for personalizing feedback surveys, thereby adding significant context to data insights and enhancing the user experience. Dynamic survey links can be made unique to each participant, allowing you to track responses in a very specific way. We cover this in more depth in a later section of this guide.

sitting on a bench using a qr code

What are the weaknesses of using a QR code-based customer feedback approach?

For all their plus points, there are a couple of minor issues with the QR code approach to customer feedback – particularly when compared to email feedback. These include the following:

  • Smartphone penetration is very high, but email penetration is arguably higher. Also, pretty much everyone with an email address should know how to open and respond to email feedback surveys, whereas QR codes are still an unknown quantity among older or less tech-savvy smartphone users.
  • QR codes are great for immediacy, but once the moment has passed and the QR code is no longer ‘there’, respondents can’t access them to take the survey. This can be less of an issue with emails stored in inboxes.
  • Smartphones need to be connected to the internet for QR codes to work, whereas giving email feedback works offline because the response gets sent once the user has reconnected.
  • QR codes can sometimes be overlooked, particularly in physical settings where something might be obstructing visibility of the code itself.

To mitigate these and other issues, it’s important to consider the target audience and follow best practice guidance. Offering alternative feedback channels alongside QR codes can also provide more options for customers to share their feedback.

rating an experience on mobile

What kinds of QR code surveys are there?

QR code surveys can be applied for a multitude of purposes in order to gauge feedback from customers and other stakeholders. Here are some common types of QR survey:

Customer satisfaction QR code surveys

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys focus on measuring customer satisfaction levels around a specific product, service, or interaction with a company. The simplest examples ask a single question in order to determine a rating against a CSAT scale. They can also include questions about customer service, product quality, ease of use, etc.

Net Promoter Score ® (NPS) QR code surveys

QR code surveys are a great way to gather NPS feedback, helping to calculate and improve your overall NPS score. NPS is a measure of customer loyalty that uses a single question to determine a customer’s likelihood of recommending a product, service or brand.

recommending to friend or colleague scale

Event QR code surveys

Use QR codes to gain attendee feedback for conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events. These are particularly helpful in situations where you don’t know attendees’ contact information, such as an open public event. QR codes can be positioned at strategic locations such as high-traffic thoroughfares, mustering points and even on physical seating. Survey questions typically collect opinions about event content, speakers, venue, and overall experience. 

Suggestions and improvements QR code surveys

Other QR code-driven customer feedback surveys include those aimed at identifying bugs and gathering suggestions for product or service improvement.  

Employee-focused QR code feedback surveys

Employees are a key constituency for organizations and their feedback (e.g. in the form of employee satisfaction, but also many other aspects of their employment) is extremely valuable. QR codes play a role here in maximizing participation, as some employees may prefer this method and would otherwise not respond. Consider QR codes when you want employee feedback about workspaces and facilities, and among employees that are not desk-based.  

rating with smiley faces

Market research QR code surveys 

Market research surveys aim to gather insights about consumer preferences, buying behaviors, brand perception, or market trends – with insight ready to apply to marketing strategies, product development, or market positioning. These aren’t necessarily targeted at existing customers, but rather anyone who fits the desired customer profile. 

Public opinion QR code surveys 

QR code surveys can also be used for conducting public opinion polls, gathering feedback on hot topics, or conducting research on specific topics of interest. These surveys aim to understand public sentiment and gather insights on various social or political matters. QR codes can help maximize participation of a random sample, but can be less effective when needing to narrow down participants to a given demographic.

people discussing reviews and ratings

How flexible are QR code surveys, design wise?

There are two aspects to the design flexibility of QR code surveys:

  1. The design flexibility of the QR code itself. We examine (below) how the basic structure of a QR code can be optimized to convey your unique brand and – ultimately –stand out so that people scan it.
  2. The design flexibility of the underlying feedback survey that the QR code directs to. Check out these 10 golden rules of survey design to learn how to make your survey design as engaging as possible. 

Making your QR code stand out and be scanned 

While the traditional structure of the QR code is black squares arranged on a white background, you can customize this appearance and add extra touches. 

Many QR code generators allow you to add colors, incorporate logos or images, or apply design elements to the QR code itself. These modifications have their limits, however, and must remain limited to the extent that the QR code can still be scanned. Our advice is to experiment with QR code designs to optimize their impact with customers and resonance with your brand experience. But be sure to test properly before releasing them into the wild!

Here are a few cool examples of QR code designs:

Taco Bell lemons and avocados

The popular Mexican food chain used hundreds of lemon and avocado images to compose QR codes for a print advertising campaign. A great idea that encouraged engagement while emphasizing their commitment to fresh ingredients.

qr code made out of foodqr code made out of food

Burger King at the VMAs

Another fast-food chain, Burger King, used colorful QR codes to spice up a series of TV commercials related to its partnership with MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs). QR codes on picture frames, T-shirts and other spots during the films can be scanned, allowing viewers to download apps and consume bonus content.

Pushing the boundaries with Stable Diffusion

AI-powered imaging promises to revolutionize QR code design by melding the humble black-and-white QR code template with any picture you can think of. The example below is just a taste of what’s possible – learn more in this tutorial.

9 steps to creating your own QR code feedback survey

Creating a QR code-driven customer feedback survey is easier than you think. The following steps define the simplest way to get fast results, plus some extra tips for making your QR code surveys as personalized and contextualized as possible.

Define your objectives

What do you aim to get from your customer feedback survey? Specifically, what do you want to learn or achieve through the feedback you receive? For example, you may want a more accurate picture of product satisfaction, customer service experience, or overall brand perception. This should influence the rest of your approach and serve as criteria for evaluating its success.

Consider how survey respondents will encounter your QR codes

Take some time to think about the context for your QR code survey. This has a big impact on where you might place QR codes both physically and/or digitally. 

Incorporate QR codes with physical customer touchpoints like in-store displays, packaging, or printed materials, to link to surveys that collect highly-contextualized feedback. And by customizing the QR codes to match the branding and design of the touchpoints, you create a seamless and personalized experience for users.

It’s the same with virtual touchpoints, which you also may find easier to map against the customer journey

Design your QR code survey

Use a world-class survey platform like Customer Thermometer to design your customer feedback survey. Choose from a range of question types such as multiple-choice, open-ended, rating scales, and more. Use simple language and create a logical flow, ensuring that the survey is concise, easy to understand, and aligns with your objectives. 

Here’s also where you should be thinking of how to take advantage of the multimedia potential of QR codes. Remember, QR surveys can incorporate videos, images, or audio clips, to enhance the survey experience.

Generate and customize your QR code/s 

Once your survey is ready, use a QR code generator to create a unique QR code that links to it. As per the guidance we outlined above, you can customize the appearance of the QR code to align with your brand and color palette. Look at ways to add logos and design elements to the QR code while ensuring that its facility to be scanned remains intact.

Maximize personalization

QR codes can be specific to the same survey that everyone completes, or unique to segments or individuals. This helps tailor appropriate questions and analyze results with greater precision. Other things to consider by way of QR code survey personalization include:

  • Embedding respondent information into the survey link and pre-filling certain form fields with known data. QR codes can contain these pre-filled URLs, making it convenient for respondents to access the survey with their information already populated.
  • Running separate surveys for new customers versus existing customers, with QR codes guiding each group to their respective surveys. This ensures that respondents receive targeted questions that align with their specific experiences.
  • Combining QR codes with loyalty programs or incentives to encourage participation in feedback surveys. For example, you can create personalized QR codes that, when scanned, unlock special offers, discounts, or reward points for completing the survey. 

Complete testing of the QR code and where it’s positioned

Before implementing the QR code in your chosen media, test it to ensure all is working properly. Use different smartphone devices and QR code scanning apps to verify that the code properly directs users to the survey page you’ve set up.

With the technical aspects of testing covered, you could also test the optimal positioning of QR codes in your materials. QR codes need to be where people can easily discover them, without being overly intrusive – it’s all about the context. Testing alternatives is the only way to know what works before hitting the start button for real.

Go live with promoting the QR code/s

With the steps above completed, you’re free to place the QR code/s in relevant locations or materials where your target audience will see them. There’s tremendous scope to innovate with QR code placement, from product packaging, receipts and brochures, to websites, social media posts, email newsletters, and physical signage. Always provide clear instructions adjacent to the QR code so users know how to scan it.

Monitor and analyze survey responses

As participants scan the QR code and complete the feedback survey, responses will start coming in which you’ll need to monitor and collect the data in real-time. Customer Thermometer’s reporting and analytics features will help you analyze the data, generate insights, and identify trends in the feedback received.

positive and negative drivers for reviews

Communicate results and take action 

The final step is the most important: take action! There is no purpose to gathering feedback if you sit on the results. Communicate the data highlights internally and decide on relevant actions to take with individual participants, demonstrating that their feedback was valued and acted upon. Based on the feedback gathered, update your running metrics and KPIs, and identify areas for improvement in both your product/service and the processes surrounding your customer experience. 

What are the best practices for optimizing participation in QR code feedback surveys?

QR code surveys promise a lot in terms of customer engagement, but success isn’t guaranteed. The approach is still comparatively novel and it’s easy to make mistakes or be too complacent that audiences will know how to participate or understand the benefits to them.

Here are our recommendations for optimizing participation in your QR code feedback surveys:

  • Provide clear instructions
  • Make it mobile-friendly
  • Stand out and extend your brand experience
  • Offer an incentive 
  • Keep effort levels low
  • Ensure relevant context
  • Personalize the experience
  • Test and optimize 
  • Promote your survey effectively
  • Close the feedback loop

Provide clear instructions

Display clear, concise instructions near the QR code to guide participants to engage. Less is more. Consider using visual cues or icons to make the process intuitive, rather than words.

Make it mobile-friendly

QR code surveys are accessed on mobile devices, so it’s imperative that the survey interface you route participants to is mobile-responsive and user-friendly. Optimize the survey layout and design for smaller screens, and favor a simple one-click approach instead of complex or lengthy forms that may discourage participation.

rating a product on your phone

Stand out and extend your brand experience

QR code surveys are all about engagement, which makes them a perfect way to extend your brand experience while simultaneously learning more about what customers think. Push the envelope a little; you needn’t be constrained by basic and boxy black-and-white designs. Just make sure they scan correctly before publishing them!

Offer an incentive 

As with other forms of feedback surveys, QR code surveys can work well when providing participants with a small incentive or reward for survey completion. A common approach is to offer a modest discount, a chance to win a prize, or access to exclusive content. This acts as motivation for greater participation and increased response rates.

man scoring a product positively

Keep effort levels low

QR code surveys are supposed to make life easier, so don’t blow it by making your underlying survey a pain in the neck to interact with. Aim to keep the survey concise and focused on the key topic. Long surveys can be off-putting, leading to survey fatigue and abandonment. Go for a one-question survey, thereby ensuring participants expend the minimum time and effort

Ensure relevant context

The beauty of QR code surveys is that the QR codes themselves can crop up in virtually any physical or digital touchpoint in the customer experience. Mapping your customer journey can help visualize a planning process for getting all your bases covered. And it will help tailor your survey questions too, so they’re as relevant and meaningful as possible to the target audience. 

Personalize the experience

The minimum personalization standard for any feedback survey is addressing participants by their name and including context-specific questions. QR code surveys help you go considerably further, as outlined in the personalization tips earlier in this guide. You could be missing a trick if you fail to capitalize on this potential, and the chance to make customers feel more valued.

Test and optimize 

Thoroughly test all elements before launching your survey. In particular, the QR code scanning process, survey flow, and overall user experience. Iron out any technical issues before your go-live. After that, you should continuously monitor response rates to make any necessary adjustments to improve participation further still.

Promote your survey effectively

QR codes should stand out by themselves, and appear in relevant places. But promoting your QR code surveys can aid greater participation – especially when they are tied into a campaign. There are many promotion channels to create awareness and encourage participation, from social media and email, to websites, physical posters and flyers. Target the promotion to the specific audience you want to reach.

Close the feedback loop

Once the survey is live, you’ll have lots of results to learn from and act upon. Best practice for all customer feedback is ‘closing the loop’. This is where you follow-up individual participants, expressing gratitude for their time and effort in giving feedback and summarizing the action you’ve taken. This is particularly important when your QR code surveys throw up any negative feedback that may indicate a customer is very unhappy and potentially likely to churn. Closing the loop with these customers can protect revenues and safeguard your reputation. But closing the loop should also be a universal goal, especially as showing appreciation across the board can encourage future participation and create a positive perception of your organization.

woman talking about feedback loop

By implementing these best practices, you can enhance the both participation rates and the quality of feedback received through QR code feedback surveys.