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Hearing Customer Voices --Dickeson

May 2003

7. Project or product's handling and distribution understood

8. Customer's environmental concerns understood

9. Customer's regulatory concerns understood

10. Performance standards and testing properly documented

11. Customer's manufacturing process understood

F. Budgetary considerations

1. Payment terms discussed, understood and agreed upon

2. Supplier competitive environment understood

3. Total cost issues discussed—options and alternatives as appropriate

4. Alterations and additions policy understood

5. Overage/underage acceptance discussed and understood

6. Freight and F.O.B. discussed

7. Price breakouts done per customer specs regarding tooling and prep

8. Future product use and forecasts discussed

Is this what the customer is saying to a commercial printer? If this is the implied relationship, it's far beyond that of a printer as producer of a commodity, isn't it?

Indeed, it puts you in mind of doctor/patient, attorney/client, minister/communicant relationship. It's a perception in the mind of a customer of the value being added by the printer to the raw materials converted.

Make a Checklist

Do you have such a checklist for the kind of work you're producing? Shouldn't you? Can we intelligently price what we're doing without similar understandings of what's expected?

This is the VOC—Voice Of the Customer, which we must match with our VOP—Voice Of the Process. What if the VOC demands more than our process is capable of producing? Using our XmR charts we should demonstrate to the client the capability of our processes and their stability. These are constraints of commercial printing that a customer must acknowledge and accept, as we do.

Then there's the VOL—Voice Of Liquidity—the cash needs of the printer. The VOL must be resolved right "up front" with the customer just as it is in the medical or legal professions. If it's cash on delivery or in 30 days, that has to be understood at the outset, without any equivocation, and it must be enforced.

The VOC, VOP and VOL must harmonize as a trio to create a satisfying relationship for all.

—Roger V. Dickeson

About the Author

Roger Dickeson is a printing productivity consultant based in Tucson, AZ. He can be reached via e-mail:

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