Oops, we messed up – now what do we do? 3 Key Steps to Keeping Your Customer
Yes, occasionally mistakes do happen no matter how many T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. It happens. We’re human and sometimes things slip through the proverbial crack. The real test of superior and Above and Beyond customer service is how the mistake is handled and rectified. Do you attempt to cover up with a thinly veiled excuse that even a 1st grader could tell was bogus or do you take it on the chin, call the customer and explain what happened and work together to find a solution that will solve the immediate problem and get back on track. Obviously the correct response should be honesty is the best policy as we were all taught in Kindergarten. To attempt to conceal or downplay the problem will only serve to diminish your image and tarnish your reputation in the eyes of the customer. Confront the problem, find a solution and then make it right. This is where a solid quality management system can be a benefit. Review your process procedures and find the root cause and fix it.
A well handled “disaster” can be recovered from and actually increase the loyalty of the customer. Remember the Tylenol crisis of 1982? The company won praise for its quick and appropriate action. Having sidestepped the position others have found themselves in – of having been slow to act in the face of consumer concern – they achieved the status of consumer champion. Within five months of the disaster, the company had recovered 70% of its market share for the drug – and the fact this went on to improve over time showed that the company had succeeded in preserving the long term value of the brand.
In fact, there was some evidence that it was rewarded by consumers who were so reassured by the steps taken that they switched from other painkillers to Tylenol.
The 3 key steps to follow:
- Act quickly, with complete openness about what happened.
- Take steps to ensure that measures are taken which would prevent a recurrence of the problem.
- Be prepared to absorb the cost of fixing the problem to reestablish a basis for trust with the customer.
Posted in Cross-Media Marketing, Digital, e-Solutions, Fulfillment and Distribution, Personalized Printing, Print, Printing Tips
Tagged above and beyond, customer service, errors, honesty, ISO9001:2008, Quality, quality management, service, truthfulness
Polyester. The word itself brings to mind images of people in plaid and paisley outfits with big hair from the 1970s. Horrible refrains written by the Gibb brothers echo through my head when I think of that time period. I remember my mom listening to them on the AM radio in our car when I was a kid. I also remember being dressed in striped polyester bell-bottoms and sent to school (sorry, image not available). I was so happy when denim and cotton became the preferred fabric of clothiers.
Fast forward to present. Quite a few of the big names in athletic apparel use polyester as the primary material in their shirts, shorts, sweats and more. But now, polyester and polyester blends, are touted as moisture-wicking, non-chafing, high performance fabrics. It is sold to us under such names – Dri-FIT (Nike), Climacool and Climawarm (Adidas), PlayDry (Reebok), Double Dry – formerly Duo Dry (Champion), UA Tech (Under Amrour). Walmart has even gotten in on the action with their Dri-Star brand. The list goes on and on.
This is a prime example of how a once scorned product can make resurgence and not just make a minor come back, but take an entire industry by storm.
Those of us who still make our living in the printing industry have had to undergo a similar transformation. Long gone are the days where a printer can survive and make payroll by just printing stuff. Now, we handle mailings, warehousing, pick and pack, online ordering, promotional products, wide-format posters, event signage, marketing and more.
The modern day printer has had to reinvent themselves and their product offerings in order to stay relevant and to stay afloat. That was one of the big draws for me to come to Velocity. I love to learn new things and fortunately, I work with a group of people with a similar mindset.
So, even though Print is our company’s middle name, print is only one of the many products/services we offer.
Written by Jim Stiles
I just received a couple of direct mail pieces in the mail that were personalized or at least looked that way. They both had my name “JIM” in big letters on the front and some catchy line following to get my attention. Both companies used the same technique and surely expected to get some lift in response because of the use of the personalized attention getter. There is no doubt that personalization can lift response rates, but I wonder if the vendor that sold these companies on the use of personalization did them justice. There are many proven studies that show even the most basic personalization can lift response rates, however the same studies show that in-depth personalization makes a much larger impact.
Simply putting a name on a post card has become almost common place and the audience is now less and less impressed by these tricks of the trade. They realize that some software is simply merging a name and when thrown into all the other wonders of technology that we are all experiencing in our lives today can almost go unnoticed or look gimmicky. True in-depth personalization should be much more than a name.
When considering the use of personalization we encourage our clients to think past the parlor tricks and to take advantage of the variable content available today in our more sophisticated data lists. Let’s think for a moment what is included in a basic data list. There is the sex of the individual, the location, job title, company size, etc. Even with this basic information a personalized campaign can be built to get the individuals attention without them even realizing it. The most basic form would be to use one set of graphic images and background colors more suited for females and one for males. Now add in the location and make the images specific to that location. The result is a campaign that is personalized to the individual’s sex and location that will capture their attention without them even realizing it.
Many of us now utilize CRM systems and our leads and prospects are manually researched and entered. Why not increase the depth of the knowledge base you are creating and include some personal information, business duties, hobbies, future business needs, product offerings, etc. etc. Now, picture a campaign designed to not only address sex and location but perhaps a third more personal interest or need.
For example, this campaign for a state wide bank chain in the state of CT uses:
- Uses spring flowers for females and a golf course for males
- Uses a shore line reference in text for zip codes on the southern half of the state and hiking reference in the northern half of the state.
- If family income is over X amount the text pushes investment options and lower income families get text offering a free beach bag when a new account is opened.
Nowhere in this campaign is their name or obvious personal information. The campaign is simply personalized to the point of relating to the client without them realizing it. This simple bank campaign can run easily on a digital press using one data base, 4 different images and a couple of variable text blocks.
So let’s get past the parlor tricks and start to take advantage of real in-depth variable printing.
Thought I would share a story of how we helped one of our clients achieve their annual appeal goal. In past years, this client simply mailed a plain letter on their letterhead asking for a donation. Nothing fancy, no return envelope, no reply card, no color – just plain vanilla. Results were less than they hoped for and they did not achieve their goals.
We approached them and offered to sit down and discuss some other possible alternatives that could help them increase their donations. As a non-profit with a limited budget and staff we needed to maximize their efforts and show them how by investing a little more they could achieve their goal and increase the size of the donations.
First, we discussed the “List”. We talked about the importance of the list and how it could be improved. Who was on their mailing list, how accurate did they think it was and could it be scrubbed? They agreed to take some time and work on improving the list. Second, we showed them various samples of other non-profit appeal letters and discussed what might work for them. We decided to keep the letter format but add personalization and use both sides, we added some color to make it appealing, and put a perfed reply card at the bottom for them to use when replying. Levels of donations were included, as well as options to mail or donate online and most importantly an envelope to reply back. The reply envelope included text thanking them for their support and the outside window envelope included a message indicating that this was the Annual Appeal. Third, we mailed it presorted first class so the receipt would be timely and any bad addresses would be returned so the list could be updated for future use.
The results were vastly improved and they met their goal! We work with many non-profits but the same techniques and solutions can be used in other markets and campaigns.
Posted in Case Studies, Company News, Cross-Media Marketing, Digital, Personalized Printing, Print, Printing Tips
Tagged annual appeal, digital printing, managing databases, marketing results, non-profit printing, personalized digital print, solutions
Don’t forget to KISS
I read lots of publications about marketing strategies, personalization and multi-touch cross media campaigns and if you have followed any of my previous posts you know I am a big believer in the cross-media approach. Whenever you can target your audience in a variety of ways with multiple touches, cost efficiently your marketing dollars will yield better results. Where I see the biggest problem is trying to get new initiatives off the ground. I suggest getting new initiatives off the ground using the K.I.S.S method (Keep It Simple S.). There are 3 main components to any initiative and adjustments can be made along the way. Focus on a strong design, a good database and a rock solid offer. If you meet these 3 components you are 95% ready to jump into the world of cross-media and with the right guidance the results will follow.
Print or not to Print seems to be the question on the minds of many these days, but there is no black and white answer to that question. Being a printer my answer would have to be Print with out question, but I am also a technology geek and the digital offerings of e-books & digital publications are very cool. As a consumer and an avid magazine and comic collector for many years, having a tangible piece of material is essential. You could collect digital comic books but there really is no way to showcase them and where is the collectible value.
The magazines that can afford to have their subscriptions delivered to you on your tablet or smart phone in seconds offer some very cool features printing just doesn’t have. On December 13, 2012 Newsweek magazine released it last printed issue and will be 100% digital for 2013. Not only can you read the articles, but also you can interact with the articles and watch videos link to pages while reading this publication. Pretty cool stuff, but I would much rather go to a newsstand and pick up a copy and read it the old fashion way. And if you don’t have a tablet or a smart phone, I guess they lose you as a customer.
So how do you choose, what is the right fit for you or your company? I think it is a combination of both, print for those of us that want to collect or just be old fashioned & slick and technical for those who have the technology to view it.
Either way I say PRINT!!
Coating questions always are coming up during the day. Should this job have varnish, aqueous coating, spot or overall, gloss, satin or matte? Well there are some options so let’s list them.
Standard Varnish and Coating options
Gloss Coating or Varnish – Will increase the gloss
Satin Coating or Varnish – Will maintain a similar gloss to the paper on most gloss papers
Satin Coating or Varnish – Will increase the gloss of the paper and ink slightly
Matte Coating or Varnish – Will dull the ink and maintain the finish of the paper
Matte Coating or Varnish – Will protect the print but not be visible (it’s level of protection may vary on the type of finish)
The above is a good basis for most jobs; some applications require a different effect and should always be discussed to achieve the expected finish.
Even though my prepress department is full of people with degrees in graphic design, only a small portion of our hours at the office is devoted to actual design work. We’ve chosen to work in the slightly less glamorous side of design known as prepress. And we love it. Each prepress operator in my group has a mac and a pc on their desk with all of current design apps loaded on them. We also have some heavy duty equipment in our arsenal, namely our PDF editors – Pitstop and Neo.
While the design world has trended toward online and digital media, some schools have dropped prepress from their graphic design curriculums. While that is great if someone only intends to build websites and products designed to be read by e-readers, it can make the transition to print challenging. That’s where prepress departments come in. Prepress operators know how to prepare files so they are print ready. Or how to take a non-print-ready file and do the necessary fixes that will allow it to print correctly.
Some of the tasks we perform regularly are: adding or extending bleed to files that don’t have them, adding crop marks, changing rgb or cmyk files to spot colors, resizing documents, adjusting panel sizes for folded pieces and more. In most cases, these adjustments are made in PDFs. There was a time when these changes required the native files, which added time to the job and pushed the print schedule out. Now with programs like Neo and Pitstop that’s often not necessary. So, the next time you have changes to a job and all you have is a PDF, give us a call – chances are we’ll be able to fix your file.
It seems that when we look at the cost of a typical printing job most of the focus is on the actual “print” production cost, when in fact a recent study performed by Infotrends showed that on average only 30% of the total cost is actually the print. The majority of the cost involved in producing a printed document is in the design, collection of assets, edits, revisions, internal approvals and the distribution of the printed product. All of these labor intensive steps need to be calculated into the total cost of producing a document for either online use or for print. The most neglected area of cost consideration is the aftermath of the printed product, how will it be distributed, how will it be stored, who manages the inventory, what is done with left over product, etc. We will call all this soft cost the “print job management” or “PJM”. (Just what the world needs is another acronym). So when considering the cost involved in producing a document all the PJM costs must be included to realize the true financial impact for evaluating a return on your investment.
One clear way to mitigate the cost involved is simply not to produce the document at all. Well for those of us who have a true internal, customer request or marketing need to produce a document there is the solution of Print-On-Demand. POD (o.m.g. another acronym) can help to cut out much of the soft cost involved with PJM (Print Job Management). By creating a central web portal that houses your documents and allows for document editing, much of the PJM costs will be reduced. Picture in your mind all the steps involved with submitting files, proofing, editing, approving proofs, forwarding emails, securing print quantities, etc. Now picture taking all those steps away or at least streamlining them into an efficient online work flow. With online print ordering, online inventory management, data list uploads, tracking history, automated PDF proofing are just a few of the tools that will help to reduce that nasty PJM cost.
There has always been a trend to also justify the PJM costs by increasing print run length so there will sure to be documents left over for future use. Well we all know how that goes, they never get used and turn to waste (we have a warehouse of obsolete product to prove it). In a POD program that obsolete inventory rarely happens. You only print what you need with no waste, unless a field rep over orders for a trade show. So now think about the PJM again in relation to the print cost, what happened? The print cost is now actually a smaller part of the whole, but more importantly both expenses are down. The PJM cost is reduced by using an online POD portal and the print cost is also reduced as you will be printing smaller quantities only when needed.
All this food for thought does not apply to every situation but it does apply if you are using repetitive documents of any kind over and over. For the direct mailer who launches one or two large bulk mailings a year this logic does not apply.
So, if I leave you with anything it would be to be careful when evaluating “print” costs and be sure to calculate in all the “soft” costs needed to produce a document. I am sure that if you weigh in all the steps, time and labor you will find that the amount is significant and opens an area for cost reduction discussions.
In response to Elaine’s post about the value of print, it’s worth noting that not all people under 40 hate print. My daughter Emily actually wrote and presented an essay extolling the virtues of print for her freshman Speech class last year. In her speech she made several arguments against the use of e-readers, including the carbon footprint left behind by various tech devices. I suppose I should also mention that she is working on her Library Science degree.
She’s not the only 20-something who feels that way. In an interview on NPR on January 29th, Facebook Co-Founder and publisher of The New Republic Chris Hughes (29) had this to say about print, “We make money off of print. And in addition to that, I personally love print. I mean, I tend to read on my phone and my iPad, but on the weekends in particular, I love sitting down with a print magazine and going page by page. So, it makes business sense for us, and it also is something that I love. So we’re committed to print for the foreseeable future.”
So, don’t believe all the gloom and doom. There is definitely hope for paper and print. The best part is when you pick up a book or a magazine you know it won’t start going dim or stop working after 3 to 8 hours. No batteries required.
Read the full NPR interview with Chris Hughes here: