Providing Superior Customer Service
No book printer ever sets out to do a bad job, but sometimes problems do occur. The mark of a good book printer is to have good problem resolution systems in place and recognizing the danger signs early. Set these procedures in place to help minimize problems and to overcome them when they do arise.
Begin with knowledgeable, well-trained customer service reps (CSR). Provide them with product knowledge, company knowledge and equipment knowledge. If the CSR is new, partner the new CSR with a more experienced one for a period of time to monitor calls and to listen how the more experienced CSR handles customer questions. Avoid putting a new CSR into a situation where he/she can make promises that your company cannot keep.
Provide all customers with written estimates of the job. Include a set of Terms & Conditions for the printing. In the Terms & Conditions, spell out key issues such as overs and unders, who owns the digital files, who owns the negs and plates (if there are any), how quality issues will be resolved and any company specific items you think are necessary. If you need a generic copy of Terms & Conditions, check the GATF/PIA web site, www.gain.org.
Create a specific document, commonly called a Change Order form, which records all changes the customer makes to the document or printing requirements after the quote has been accepted. Often a publisher may not know that even small changes may cause the price to change by a substantial amount.
Have a clear escalation path to resolve problems when they arise. If the CSR is unable to solve the problem, make sure that everyone on the escalation path has decision-making authority to correct the problem or complaint. Nothing is more disturbing to a publisher than explaining a problem to someone who cannot resolve it. Finally, have a standard plan of action to address printing quality issues. If a publisher refuses delivery on a job, consider how to rectify the situation without giving a refund, if at all possible. Reprints, discounts on future orders, free shipping, or complimentary storage are all common solutions offered by printers. Keep in mind, however, if a job is good enough to keep, it is good enough to pay for. A bad quality job circulating in the marketplace is more damaging to your reputation and business than any financial loss you might incur from reprinting the job.
No one is perfect and even the best printers occasionally have a “job from hell” where everything that can go wrong, does. The printers who have the best systems in place are the printers with the best problem recovery skills and the ones that keep their customers happy.