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Michael Casey

Pressing Ahead

By Michael Casey

About Michael

Michael Casey is the founder of Survey Advantage and strategic partner with several printer associations and franchises. By leveraging information from a printer’s estimation and production software, Mike’s business has helped hundreds of printers automate their customer feedback and lead generation process. He may be reached via e-mail or (401) 560-0311 ext. 103. Read printer case studies on the Survey Advantage Website.

First Impressions Make or Break Deals

Print buyers and prospects are watching you. How do you know if your house is in order? Are you prepared to court new business? Let’s start with the basics.

1) Phone systems and plain ol’ etiquette.

Think of your customer’s experience when calling you. Today, I called a customer and heard “Hello.” That was it! I asked if I had the right place because it didn’t sound like the $5 million printer I’ve learned to know and love.

I made the mistake of googling the company in a rush and on the top of search was its plant phone number. Darn iPhone app!

I got the prepress operator—who was nice, but not a good first impression—and not the number that should be at the top of your SEO goals! You may want to ask yourself the following questions and check the following:
  • How does my phone tree navigation work when prompting callers?
  • Do I have my people trained on how to answer the phone properly?
  • Is it easy to connect with someone when customers call us?
  • How many incoming phone lines do I have and are they all operating properly?

Call and check out your competitor’s first impression. The best example of phone etiquette for a large business is Cox. This Fortune 500 company is amazing. Whenever I call for service, the company makes it easy for me to business with this cable provider and shows it cares. I am sure others have had horrible experiences with Cox and posted to, but for 20 years now the company has treated me right.

I think it is amazing how well Cox makes me feel unique and special with such a large customer base and diverse product line. Just last week I had a problem with my home phone going dead and company sent someone out, fix it, followed up, and went above and beyond. Pretty cool, and it “wowed” me again.

2) Website presence.

After receiving a call from a printer this week, I commented that it looked like a nice size operation of 25 to 30 people. The president came back, almost offended, that the shop had 150 employees. I should never have assumed, but I explained that in the company picture on its website there were about 25 to 30 people standing in front of the front door. Also, the website did not look like one for a 150-employee printer.

Earlier in the week, I was looking at another printer’s home page and it had a picture of the front of the building. It looked like condemned property in the low-rent district in the city. “Not good” as Chevy Chase said in “Caddy Shack.” Highlight the positives on your website.

Things to consider:
  • Portray your image, culture, personality.
  • Be informative and show you are on the move. Keep web content fresh.
  • Pick a platform for quick and easy content management.
  • Check out your competitors. Good examples of printers with nice websites are or They approach it differently, but you see a progressive, thoughtful approach that is inviting for a prospective buyer or customer.

3) E-mail footers.

This may sound basic, but you have an opportunity beyond the basic e-mail message. Thoughtful footers keep customers up to date, invite them to your social media groups, and share news. Don’t go crazy adding another e-mail to the message with a lengthy footer, but a thoughtful e-mail footer can help recipients. Think like the customer.

Possible content to consider:
  • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube link icons nicely lined up.
  • Include your website URL or your logo with a hyperlink to your website. Fancy!
  • Your title, phone and e-mail address information
  • Maybe a picture of yourself. This is a tough one and the jury is still out as to wether this is tacky.

4) Building appearance.

Recently, I was reviewing survey comments for a property management firm that surveyed tenants. One comment was, “Dog poop on front steps for two weeks now.” The client and I laughed at first wondering why the tenant didn’t just scoop it up, but we both understood that the person was making a point. It is the property management company’s job.

Another comment was, “Weeds were taller than the shrubs until last week when they were cut.”

How does your building look? Don’t let your hair down too much.
  • Are you putting your best foot forward when people come into your lobby?
  • What areas may customers see? Any dirty laundry hanging around?
  • How do the floors and bathrooms look? Clean high-traffic areas often.
  • Does your place look like it is run by someone organized, disciplined, predictable and reliable? That is the kind of printer everyone wants.

5) Packages and delivery.

How well trained are your delivery people? Do you know how well they are treating customers? Do you know how your packages look when delivered? Is the appearance of every package predictable?

A best-in-class printer puts most products for delivery in branded boxes, has a tag line (like “We care!”), and has a survey URL very visible on the box to show it is open to hearing feedback. Delivery people can make or break you. Delivery people are customer-service people no matter how you slice it. They need to greet, be respectful and represent your business.

Last year, an owner shared with me that the company almost lost a major customer because its driver kept delivering to the wrong address even after the customer asked numerous times for deliveries to be brought to the right address.

Grumpy delivery people or chronic complainers don’t help much either. Pick happy, enjoyable-to-be-around people who can roll with the punches and are “customer centered.” Make sure their appearance is sharp for a positive first impression. You may want to invest in embroidered shirts for two reasons—to show you can embroider for clients and to build your brand.

So that is your homework for the week! Do a few tests and investigate the first impressions you are making. I’m sure I have my own weak links and skeletons in my closet. Time for all of us to get cracking. Inspect what you expect.

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