E-TOOLS - Staying ConnectedMay 2001
Because Moore often works with large, multiple-location companies, job tracking offers clients the benefit of managing all their printing at one location, as well as enabling them to expand their selling capabilities. "We are no longer limited to the Atlanta area. For example, a regional office in Atlanta may purchase printing from us, but its headquarters are in California. The Collabria system enables me to expand my geographic area and bring in more sales," Moore says.
John Arai, general manager of Lason Online in San Francisco—a PrintChannel user—reports that without job tracking capabilities Lason would not be as successful. "We can leverage remote sales forces because of it. Our customer base is everywhere," he reports.
Lason's PrintChannel system has also freed up its sales and customer service reps. Lason, which monitors its customer service calls through a customer service database, found that with between 4,000 to 6,000 transactions per month they receive about 700 customer calls spread over just 20 clients. "Most of the calls from clients are on how to run the system or how to modify their orders. We get very few 'Where is my order?' calls," Arai explains.
PrintChannel has also been a benefit to Lason Online internally, he adds. Lason serves a subcontractor for a vendor of record. Because the vendor of record can access the information via the Website, the vendor can reference the transaction data so that they can be the first line of customer service for the end user, Arai says.
Once up and running, Web-based job tracking can be an incredibly useful tool, but getting to that point does require commitment, cautions Moore."It's a new technology and you need to hang in there with your customers to get the kinks worked out. I know most people don't want to be the guinea pigs when it comes to new technology. But this is different. We wanted to be the first ones on the block with this; once everyone gets ahold of this, then there is nothing to differentiate ourselves. We are all printers laying ink on paper."
One way that Salisbury, MD-based Atlantic &Hastings President Brian Twilley has found to help iron out those kinks is to offer the system to his salespeople as an external marketing tool.
Twilley, a printCafe user, is in the process of adding a Web-based presence. Currently, only the sales reps have access to the system. In the future, though, Twilley plans to offer limited job tracking to customers. "I didn't want to go into our clients half-baked and then not have it work out. We are perfecting it with our reps first and then introducing it informally to larger clients," he says.
While Twilley is slowing introducing the benefits of printCafe to his clients, he does see a time when its use will become more prevalent. "Right now, there is not a stampede for it. But my prediction is that print buyers want this functionality. You will always have people who want face-to-face contact with salespeople and who want reps to do everything for them. But more and more, clients don't want to call and bug their reps or wait for them to call back. The point isn't to get rid of the rep; it's to make that rep more efficient."
Agreeing with Twilley, Arai thinks that Internet-based job tracking technology will continue to impact the way printers conduct business. "In the early days, when this was a new idea, customers saw it as an added benefit. Today, there are a lot more ASPs around and it really has become a requirement."