Be Above the Baseline

Quick: What are three things all printers claim to offer their customers? A quick look at the website of the perfectly average but totally fictitious company, “No-Name Graphics,” will tell you. To quote: “We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, quality printing and on-time delivery.”

Perhaps your company’s website says something similar. While all of these things may be true, it is first important to understand that such a claim is like saying, “We are committed to meeting your expectations by providing exactly what you expect, and nothing more.”

Customer Service

Consultative Customer MeetingEvery company — at least in their marketing materials — claims to have excellent customer service, but what does that really mean? For companies working at the top end of the printing industry, customer service has morphed into customer experience.

Meeting basic expectations is for the rest of the pack. Today’s leading companies have transformed their consultative selling approach into consultative customer service. Instead of being a print provider who is there to do business whenever the phone rings (the passive approach), these companies work with their customers as service providers, helping them realize their distinct wants and needs, and consulting with them on what’s next (the active approach).

Quality Printing

What is quality printing? Does it mean your customers never come back to you with complaints, or that your work is “fine?” In my many years working with printing companies, I’ve seen that those companies that earn the biggest, most profitable accounts are also those that have their processes in check: Strong color management, color standards, certification, efficient workflow, top-to-bottom knowledge of the materials needed to not just do the job, but to do the job right.

Consider this: A beautifully executed print has not been executed beautifully if it begins to fade just months into its three-year expected life. Knowledge, reliability from job-to-job and experience become true value-adds.

On-Time Delivery

Delivering the job means you made the print and got it to the customer on or before the deadline, right? This means you met basic expectations, but didn’t go any further than that.

What happens after the printing is done is often more valuable (and more difficult) than making the print. These elements include installation, kitting, shipping, fulfillment and on-site management. At the top end of the printing segment, companies have taken the expectations for printers and extended them far beyond the print. By doing so, they separate themselves from their competitors, and in some cases offer capabilities that make them truly unique.

What to Do

Whether you serve commercial printing, apparel decoration, wide format, industrial, packaging or other segments, your challenge is the same: To exceed expectations. What, as a business, can your company do to differentiate itself, not just through marketing or a splashy website, but through its actions? Answering that can be a core path toward success.