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Founder, Print Buyers International (PBI)

Margie's Buyer Insights

By Margie Dana

About Margie

Margie Dana, a former print buyer, is the founder of Print Buyers International (PBI) and its member-based organization, Boston Print Buyers. These professional organizations cater to print customers worldwide through education, an annual buyers conference, Print Buyer Boot Camps, and networking opportunities.

Margie's perhaps best known for her weekly enewsletter, Margie's Print Tips, which she's published weekly since 1999 in an effort to build bridges in the industry. For years, Margie has been a popular speaker at industry events here and abroad. Her clients include print company executives who rely on her to help steer their marketing campaigns and make their online efforts more customer friendly.

 

The Two Sweetest Words a Print Customer Can Hear

9
 
As a customer, when I get behind the eight ball on a high-priority project, it’s all consuming. I can feel the stress building like the heat on a mid-summer Miami morning, and I dial the number of my go-to print provider.

The exact words I want to hear from a service provider at such a time are simply:

“No problem.”

I will deal with the specifics in the next conversation with that provider—even discuss the cost later—but at that moment, when my neck is on the line and a job has to be produced in less time than I thought I had, all I care about is that someone I trust will be there for me.

So I put it to you: As a print provider, do you convey this sense of “calm in a storm” to your clients? Can they count on you to push that boulder up the hill with them— for them—and relieve their anxiety? Do you take that burden off their shoulders?

Or do you hem and haw, express doubt, or focus on the price, how busy you are, and how it will be difficult to squeeze the job into your schedule?

I’m being literal...and I’m not. Print customers want to work with printers who are confident and calming. We count on you to be experts and handlers, mountain movers and miracle workers.

Once, years ago, I worked with a terrific financial printing firm—our #1 provider, in fact. Yet the CSR had a habit of responding to my requests with comments like, “Well, I can’t promise, but we’ll see.” Funny thing was: the shop always delivered. She just did not want to commit. It drove me nuts.

The way you respond to your customers’ high-pressure problems will help define you. Are you their go-to person?

Be the cool, calm and collected provider—not a worrier or a ‘bet hedger’—and you will absolutely help build up a loyal customer base.
 

Industry Centers:

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COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Pinson Digital - Posted on April 23, 2011
It's important that when you say "No problem" you actually mean it. I have been on both sides of this equation and nothing is more frustrating than having a supplier make a promise they knew they couldn't keep. Be honest. It really is the best policy.
Keeping the Faith - Posted on April 15, 2011
I happen to agree whole-heartedly; I just wish that the attitude and performance Margie speaks of actually did create loyalty. It seems these days, with some exceptions, clients want more and more, for less and less, and loyalty is a thing of the past, bred out of print buyers like a genetic defect. There were days that exceptional performance and service were lauded; not so sure it's as prevalent as it once was.
Margie - Posted on April 15, 2011
Thanks, all, for your comments and opinions. I like hearing all sides. Don't misunderstand me, though: I am not recommending printers or any service providers tell clients a breezy (and empty) "No problem!" for every request or especially the time-crunch ones. What I value, as a customer, is knowing that there is a provider (or several of them) whom I can count on to do what it takes to help me out of a jam. It's more a sense of sharing a burden with someone I trust to get my project done as best and as quickly as possible. Having these resources, these "Relax, I can help you get through this" contacts, is of tremendous value as I run my business. I also believe print buyers prefer working with reps/CSRs who are confident "can-do" individuals.
Marie - Posted on April 14, 2011
I agree with Rick and Roger. I say 'no problem' when I can, but am always very careful not to promise anything I can not guarantee. As far as Margie's experience with a CSR that always said "we'll try our best but can't promise" but always delivered anyway: I would say this is not the CSR's fault. A CSR has to get approval from the production manager on whether or not something is realistic. It is often the PM that says "we'll do our best" and we have no choice but to pass along the message. We can't promise things for our production team if they didn't originally confirm they can definitely do it. We're between a rock and a hard place, and have to choose our words carefully, or get finger pointed from all directions if we overpromise and underdeliver. Most of the time the customer likes to 'shoot the messenger' (CSR), when really, most of the time we ARE just the messenger and trying to keep everything flowing despite the rush, rush, rush way of the print industry.
ivan - Posted on April 14, 2011
Bad advice - I want the TRUTH from the CSR, not a load of baloney that causes stress, hurried and therefore potentially sloppy work, delays to other customers projects who were NOT late on their deadlines, etc. What happens if the "no problem" turns into an actual missed deadline? The fault lies first with the print buyer whose inefficiency brought the job in late and asked for special attention to get it done on time. Secondly, it lies with the CSR who ignored the logistics of the project in order to, well, butt-kiss. I understand this may be a personal preference... for myself, give me the truth any day over a batch of salesmanship. If I'm under a load of stress on a job, the timeline is my responsibility. I can handle the truth.
rick - Posted on April 14, 2011
I say no problem as often as possible. However, i also do not want to lie or mislead any clients. The fact is that sometimes it IS a problem and it is caused by the client being late, submitting poor files, unwilling to pay for what it takes to get the job done on time, etc. The issue for me is how to make sure no problem is not viewed as a guarantee.
Roger - Posted on April 13, 2011
I agree that no problem is a great answer but... Have you ever considered how much emotional and physical stress you caused by being late with your order again? How many owners and managers are racked with stress trying to put a happy face on that phrase. Is it all about you or do other peoples feels count. The second person is just being honest. Any one else feel this way?
Whitlow Magor - Posted on April 13, 2011
I agree that "No problem" is a great answer to, "We need such and such done." The problem I have, though, and no pun intended, is that so many people use, "no problem," instead of "you're welcome," that is has a bad taste.
Dan - Posted on April 13, 2011
You are so right! I remember my days in exhibits, we had a road-man Joe Wojack and no matter what we asked him, no matter how off the wall, he always responded "No problem." He's still in the business 25 years later and still collecting satisfied customers throughout the nation on his positive attitude alone, I aspire to be the no problem guy in Rochester. Good post.
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Pinson Digital - Posted on April 23, 2011
It's important that when you say "No problem" you actually mean it. I have been on both sides of this equation and nothing is more frustrating than having a supplier make a promise they knew they couldn't keep. Be honest. It really is the best policy.
Keeping the Faith - Posted on April 15, 2011
I happen to agree whole-heartedly; I just wish that the attitude and performance Margie speaks of actually did create loyalty. It seems these days, with some exceptions, clients want more and more, for less and less, and loyalty is a thing of the past, bred out of print buyers like a genetic defect. There were days that exceptional performance and service were lauded; not so sure it's as prevalent as it once was.
Margie - Posted on April 15, 2011
Thanks, all, for your comments and opinions. I like hearing all sides. Don't misunderstand me, though: I am not recommending printers or any service providers tell clients a breezy (and empty) "No problem!" for every request or especially the time-crunch ones. What I value, as a customer, is knowing that there is a provider (or several of them) whom I can count on to do what it takes to help me out of a jam. It's more a sense of sharing a burden with someone I trust to get my project done as best and as quickly as possible. Having these resources, these "Relax, I can help you get through this" contacts, is of tremendous value as I run my business. I also believe print buyers prefer working with reps/CSRs who are confident "can-do" individuals.
Marie - Posted on April 14, 2011
I agree with Rick and Roger. I say 'no problem' when I can, but am always very careful not to promise anything I can not guarantee. As far as Margie's experience with a CSR that always said "we'll try our best but can't promise" but always delivered anyway: I would say this is not the CSR's fault. A CSR has to get approval from the production manager on whether or not something is realistic. It is often the PM that says "we'll do our best" and we have no choice but to pass along the message. We can't promise things for our production team if they didn't originally confirm they can definitely do it. We're between a rock and a hard place, and have to choose our words carefully, or get finger pointed from all directions if we overpromise and underdeliver. Most of the time the customer likes to 'shoot the messenger' (CSR), when really, most of the time we ARE just the messenger and trying to keep everything flowing despite the rush, rush, rush way of the print industry.
ivan - Posted on April 14, 2011
Bad advice - I want the TRUTH from the CSR, not a load of baloney that causes stress, hurried and therefore potentially sloppy work, delays to other customers projects who were NOT late on their deadlines, etc. What happens if the "no problem" turns into an actual missed deadline? The fault lies first with the print buyer whose inefficiency brought the job in late and asked for special attention to get it done on time. Secondly, it lies with the CSR who ignored the logistics of the project in order to, well, butt-kiss. I understand this may be a personal preference... for myself, give me the truth any day over a batch of salesmanship. If I'm under a load of stress on a job, the timeline is my responsibility. I can handle the truth.
rick - Posted on April 14, 2011
I say no problem as often as possible. However, i also do not want to lie or mislead any clients. The fact is that sometimes it IS a problem and it is caused by the client being late, submitting poor files, unwilling to pay for what it takes to get the job done on time, etc. The issue for me is how to make sure no problem is not viewed as a guarantee.
Roger - Posted on April 13, 2011
I agree that no problem is a great answer but... Have you ever considered how much emotional and physical stress you caused by being late with your order again? How many owners and managers are racked with stress trying to put a happy face on that phrase. Is it all about you or do other peoples feels count. The second person is just being honest. Any one else feel this way?
Whitlow Magor - Posted on April 13, 2011
I agree that "No problem" is a great answer to, "We need such and such done." The problem I have, though, and no pun intended, is that so many people use, "no problem," instead of "you're welcome," that is has a bad taste.
Dan - Posted on April 13, 2011
You are so right! I remember my days in exhibits, we had a road-man Joe Wojack and no matter what we asked him, no matter how off the wall, he always responded "No problem." He's still in the business 25 years later and still collecting satisfied customers throughout the nation on his positive attitude alone, I aspire to be the no problem guy in Rochester. Good post.