Don't Tap Dance Around Bad News
While talking with a print company CEO, I asked her why she thought print buyers like working with certain printers. Of course, I have my own opinion. It's not usually about the product; it's about the relationship. Buyer and printer (specifically, the sales rep or service rep) have settled into a groove, a comfortable routine, that's built on trust.
One thing this CEO said stuck in my mind. When I asked her specifically why her clients prefer working with her, she quoted a good client who said:
"You call me with the good news. You call me with the bad."
I immediately flashed back to my financial print-buying days, when I juggled production schedules of a dozen shareholder reports mixed in with prospectuses and other related jobs. The stress level was pretty darned high during the busy seasons, and though we expected the printers to always come through for us, there were those inevitable delays and problems.
The printers I loved working with were the ones who told it to me straight. If a delivery date was threatened, they didn’t hide from me. They called me up, shared the bad news, and were prepared to take the heat. Usually, they had a solution to salvage the situation.
Being upfront with your print customers usually works best. If a proof is running late, or a delivery date can't realistically be met, or that special paper hasn't yet arrived, don’t hide it. Tell your customers. They’d rather find out there’s a potential complication and hear how you’re resolving it than find out after the fact that you knew all the while there was trouble brewing.
What happens if a printer (substitute any "business provider" here) tap dances around bad news, to avoid confronting a customer? Loss of respect, for starters. Loss of trust follows. And very likely, loss of business.
It's much better to come clean and tell it like it is.
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com