How much importance does your supplier place on the human relationships in print? In the competitive market place, putting together a great business model isn’t enough. What makes a supplier stand out from the rest and ensure that they are more than just another print provider?
Price, cost, efficiency, effectiveness – all crucial in their own way. You should consider these the mechanics of the business, the nuts and bolts that keep the ever growing (well, hopefully!) machine that is your business moving in the right direction.
How you brand and sell the services or products you offer are also just as important, creating the doorway of interaction for potential customers to find out more about who you are and what you stand for.
As guilty as some customers can be in believing that organising and producing a print run is a simple case of hitting a ‘go’ and ‘stop’ button, print suppliers have been equally guilty of not understanding the changing landscape of their customer’s needs. The worst thing a company can do is begin to take their customer base for granted. Simply taking in and fulfilling a new or repeat order without any form of intermittent relationship, will only sow the seeds for complacency and/or doubts to creep into a customer’s mind over how valued their business is.
Communication is the cheapest and most effective tool available to every single company in business. Everybody has the ability to talk but most importantly, listen. The ‘L’ word is not something that salespeople in particular are trained to implement as part of their sales cycle because the pressure is usually on to hit targets. We all have two ears and one mouth and that should be the ratio to how a business communicates with its clients. Ask the right questions, and you’ll be surprised at the information you receive in kind.
Rough with the Smooth
But of course, not every interaction goes as smoothly as both parties would hope. A natural course of running any business is dealing with customer complaints. How a printer responds at these moments are a true test of their flexibility and commitment to supplying the best service possible. Complaints are never a good thing to hear but do provide an opportunity for a print supplier to improve their business in two. Firstly, how they respond to that client is essential. On most occasions, if a customer is not happy, they want the company they feel is responsible to resolve it. If they can do that in a satisfactory way, it can turn a negative moment into a positive one.
Secondly, a complaint is a means test of not only the printer’s commitment to customer service but to finding out where systems and processes can be improved overall. Particularly if the same complaint has been raised a number of times. Rather than being reactive, the printer should be proactive and find a remedy to remove the chances of the same complaint being raised again by a different customer. Either way, dealing with customer concerns is crucial to upholding a positive image.
Satisfied customers will rarely come forward to commend a printer for their work, as they feel they are receiving the correct level of service they pay for. However, they will be happy to recommend their printer to others if they are happy. The opposite remains equally true. A customer will inform their printer of a problem if they want to keep working together but if handled poorly, this information is readily passed onto others. If a customer does not value their supplier, rather than raise the issue, they will just stop using the printer completely and quickly move on to another supplier.
This goes back to the earlier point of ensuring you remain in contact with your customers and obtaining feedback wherever possible. As advanced and targeted as marketing has become over the past two decades, the positive effects of strong word of mouth are still hard to beat. The benefits for the sales team are also just as large, as it opens the door for referrals, which is the easiest way to source new business opportunities.
With the increase of online suppliers and the gradual improvement of digital print, the print industry has increasingly descended into a price war. In recent weeks we have spoken at length about separating price, cost and value, and the focus a print company places in customer service will determine the quality of their clients and their customer retention rate.
Print management is designed to be tailor made to serving each client’s needs in their own unique way. A good print management will be able to scale up and down to match the changing requirements of their customers. The client experience from start to finish has to be a satisfying one and which includes simply browsing on the website, right through to making their enquiry, the after-sales process and beyond. Customer complaints are unavoidable but how they are resolved is what will separate the worthwhile from the time wasters.
For further information or for more details on our approach on our services, call us on 0330 010 2264 or contact us using the fomr below. We’d be happy to help.