and welcome to the maiden voyage of my blog! I want to thank Dave Leskusky for inviting me over from PrintMediaCentr
to mix things up a bit, so let’s get right to it.
As a self-proclaimed TV junkie, I must admit the first spark of a post topic often comes through the broadcast airwaves. Thanks to my DVR, while catching up on Parks and Recreation
, an episode titled “Sweet Sixteen”
provided more of a zap than a spark.
To briefly recap, Amy Poeler’s character Leslie Knope is running for city council. Leslie was driving to a party and along the way noticed her campaign signage on someone’s lawn. Screeching to a halt, she cries out, “THEY screwed up my campaign signs!”
Leslie grabs a poster from a lawn and rushes over to “Sign-Tology” and complains to Walter behind the counter that she “would never have ordered a sign with all that complicated nonsense, because we’re not insane.” Walter then pulls out the order form and proceeds to read the URL address that was printed.
Leslie agrees that was on the form, but adds, “using basic logic and human intelligence, one can surmise that is a link to an image. This isn’t what we wanted printed on the signs.”
Walter replies, “What ever is on the order form is what I print, and in this case it was a long string of letters and numbers.”
Leslie reaches behind the counter to a computer and clicks on the actual poster file. Walter says, “Now that’s a nice sign, you should have used that.”
This scenario was, of course, included in a sit-com, but it’s a good time to remember that in order for a show to be relatable, it has to touch upon some common experience of the masses. Whether it’s a jab at customer service or one of the chains that offer “printing” services, only the writers know. But there is a very good lesson for us to learn from this exchange: the customer is NOT always right.
My background is in advertising agency print production. That means I have a role in the creation of the material, not just buying it. But when it does come to the buying part, I have made mistakes on quote requests and specs. I have asked for things that weren’t possible, or requested they be done in a manner that either didn’t make sense or wasn’t the best way to do it.
There is only one person who can help me fix the issues before a “Leslie” moment happens, and that is my partner at the printer.
Making mistakes on quote requests is a real annoyance and time waster. Since most of my work—if not all—is triple bid, if I catch the mistake I have to revise and resend all three quotes again. Mostly likely, I’m also having to make three phone calls to ensure the first quote gets trashed since I don’t want to waste my Printers’ time either. While I’m redoing this, I’m not doing my other work...and like I said, it’s just annoying.
Now take that annoyance and wasted time to the tenth power and that is what happens when quote requests sent to my salesperson are passed along to estimating without being reviewed. The mistake could be something as simple as requesting 5/5 and not indicating the fifth color is a PMS or a varnish, or something more elaborate like a flat size of a custom pocket folder not fitting the printer’s equipment.
Regardless of how monumental the error, the time to catch it on the printer’s side is when you open my email.
If the initial review is skipped, when estimators get to the quote they are going to kick it back. When quotes are kicked back to my CSR or salesperson, that could easily be two days after I sent them in. So, now we are back to square one...and simply looking at what was requested when it came in could have pre-empted it all.
The other thing that printers should keep in mind is that the ones that alert me to a mistake, ask for clarification, or even say, “Deborah, there is a much better way to produce this.” are going to earn “partner cred.” I am going to appreciate the heads up and know my business is important to you.
And if I don’t hear from you within a reasonable time before I resend my updated specs, believe me I will ask questions about my original quote to see if it was looked at it.
With all things being equal, the printer that adds value through customer service, cares about my work and helps me produce it efficiently and effectively becomes invaluable to me. To avoid the “Leslie” scenario, don’t get it wrong when the customer doesn’t get it right.