You most likely played the game “Tag” on the playground as a kid.  The premise to this activity is easy.  You all run around trying to avoid the kid who is “it” until he/she tags someone. Then, the tagged person becomes “it,” and the original “it” person runs away to avoid being tagged again.  Although this version of the game of tag is still often played at recess or in Grandma’s yard, the experience of the game has been influenced by technology, morphing it into digital variations such as Laser Tag for example.  What was seen as a game for kids, is now enjoyed by adults too.  However, with recent technological advancements, even Laser Tag has evolved since it was first introduced, trying to keep up with player expectations.

Much like Laser Tag, nearly every customer experience in nearly every industry is driven by digital technology these days.  Consumers are more tech- savvy with having constant access to smartphones, computers, tablets or other media devices.  They are using their smart-mobile devices for many of their life activities, including communicating, exercise tracking, dining, shopping, purchasing, and recreation and researching.   As a result, their expectations of their digital experience has increased, changing the relationship they have with you, the brand.

According to a Walker Podcast called, “The State of Customer Experience,” customer experience has become the brand differentiator over price and product.

Dr. Troy Powell, guest speaker of the Walker Podcast, shares the top 3 customer expectations:

  1. A personalized experience
  2. Easy
  3. Speed

Powell says companies need to understand what a person is trying to accomplish and how their product can help solve their problem as easily and efficiently as possible.  If that cannot be accomplished, customers will find another company that can.

A customer expectation study conducted by Salesforce.com  reveals that “technology is raising customer expectations at a breakneck pace.”  It further states that customers expect a lot from companies but about half say most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences. In fact, 76% of customers reported during this study, that it’s easier to take their business elsewhere to find an experience that matches their expectations and will share their pleasure or dismay with others.  What they share, however, can affect your bottom line.

Image by Salesforce.com 

DuraTech Industries offers brands an innovative- mobile solution for a customer-connected experience called, Near Field Communication, or NFC Tags.  Near Field Communication is a technology that allows wireless data to be transferred between two devices without an internet connection when they are in close proximity.  This technology can increase customer interaction with your brand.  You may have heard of this technology through mobile apps for “tap and pay” such as, Apple Pay and Google Wallet, but NFC Tags can do so much more than help your customers make payments.  NFC tags can engage consumers in various ways, thus brands are increasingly using NFC Tags for delivering more personalized, easy, and interactive customer experiences.

How does it work? 

Similar to the game of tag, you just tap and go.  NFC allows two devices to communicate.  One device is the tag itself and the other is a smart device, such as a phone.  The NFC Tag is made up of an antenna and a small passive IC (integrated circuit) Chip usually on a PET substrate with an adhesive backing. Many  smart devices are already equipped with NFC hardware, so there is no need to have the consumer purchase the hardware to read the tag.  NFC tags are passive, meaning they don’t have any power source. Instead, they draw power from the device that reads them. The scan distance is typically 8-10cm.  When a smart device gets close enough to a tag, it energizes it and transfers data from that tag.  Once in range the mobile device and NFC Tag instantly communicate.

What information or actions can an NFC Tag Transfer?

  • Open a website (URL)
  • Transfer a business card
  • Create a new Email
  • Launch an application
  • Send a text
  • Dial a telephone number
  • Create a Bluetooth connection
  • Create a Wifi connection
  • Load a geo location

 Features on an NFC Tag:

  • Come in different capacities up to 1000 bytes
  • Up to 1000 alphanumeric characters
  • One-time programmable or rewritable with the ability to be hard locked
  • No power source needed
  • Can be “embedded” underneath an overlay (hidden and protected)
  • Later versions of NFC can remember a device that returns to it (smart posters)
  • Indoor/outdoor applications
  • Life span of 10 plus years

What is the difference between NFC TAGS, RFID & Bluetooth?

NFC is built upon RFID technology.  Both have a reader or a device requesting data and a device sending data.  RFID can operate at greater distances, but because NFC devices must be in close proximity to each other, it has become a popular choice for secure communication.  Unlike Bluetooth, NCF does not require manual pairing or device discovery.

An NFC Forum’s Blog called, NFC, Bluetooth and RFID: Unraveling the Wireless Connections, offers a great illustration of their differences:

QR Codes and NFC Tags are two wireless technologies that are made to transfer content to consumers.  But, there are many more advantages to using an NFC Tag.

What are the advantages of NFC Tags over QR Codes?

  • Can be read with a tap of the tag QR Codes are optical and need an app to use
  • Available in various sizes, shapes and memory
  • Are more secure, flexible and easier to configure.
  • NFC Tags do not require an extra application.
  • If changes to QR codes are needed, one needs to create an entirely different code. In contrast, NFC tags can be edited easily.
  • If a QR code is scratched or dirty it is difficult to read.
  • There are not any design restrictions in an NFC tag as the information is not encoded in the tag design itself.

The most common form of an NFC tag is a sticker, which you could buy online from a numerous amount of sellers.  However, DuraTech offers you additional value- added services to customize your NFC Tags, including:

  • Printed overlays and adhesive application for the required installation.
  • Low to high volume tag programing including logical variable data.
  • Sophisticated high speed tag validation.
  • Sequential tag programming and validation (Match the printed information with the programmed information. (I.e. Printed table numbers on the front need to match what is programmed.

NFC tags can be used in places other technologies cannot, so the possibilities of NFC tag placement are endless, no matter what industry you are in.   The following is a non-inclusive list of industries where NFC Tags could be applied:

Transportation and Logistics:

  • Park and Pay
  • Boarding public transit
  • Viewing bus routes
  • Auto: Maintenance Information
  • Geolocation
  • Airline Boarding
  • Transit Tickets and Passes

Hospitality/Entertainment/Recreation:

  • Casinos
  • Hotels
  • Theme Parks
  • Posters
  • Event Wristbands
  • Entry/Access/Key Fobs
  • Restaurant: Order and Pay from the table or kiosk
  • Branded Charging Mat
  • Exercise Tracking
  • Museum /Tour Guides
  • Geo/Way Finding/Location

Industrial:

  • User/Safety Manuals
  • How to Videos
  • Safety Equipment Check Verifications
  • Track and Trace Supply Chain
  • Property Management
  • Building Access/Entry
  • Asset Tracking
  • Security

Retail/Shopping

  • Point of Sale
  • Digital/interactive products and labels
  • Wearables
  • Tap and Pay
  • Contests
  • Loyalty/Reward Cards

Check out this YouTube Video from the NFC Forum that illustrates these examples: https://youtu.be/8q9iISSRx7k

Another industry that is forging ahead with NFC technology is the Medical field.  This industry has welcomed the security that NFC offers, as well as how intuitive it can be.  A prime example is a sports apparel and safety gear company called, POC.  In the fall of 2019, POC revealed a new line of helmets, using NFC that can “share medical information with emergency responders about a helmet’s wearer.”   As described in an RFID Journal article, the system has an NFC tag built into the helmet along with an app.  A user can create a medical profile written to that tag.

Now that is innovative!

There are many other ways the medical industry is using NFC technology, including:

  • Medication packaging or labeling
  • Medication education and dispensing
  • Real time updates on patient care
  • ID/medication bracelets
  • Medical Alerts
  • Secure access to medical information and medical equipment.
  • Secure physical access to buildings/rooms.

So, it is fair to say how increasingly important it is to understand your customer’s expectations in order to attract them to your products and services. DuraTech’s NFC technology represents the latest evolution of technology related to improving customer experience.  Take a look around your environment and write down at least five examples of how NFC technology could change the way you work, live and play.  Next, write down at least five examples how NFC technology can change your customer’s experience.  Finally, Call or E-mail us with your ideas! We would love to play with you!  Tag, you’re it!