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The extra mile – how printers who make an error can keep customers happy

I remember the first print job that I placed when started my company.  The first client is always an important client.  I was desperate to please them.

So imagine my dismay when I received a phone call asking where the job was.

Things got worse.  The printer had not chased up for proof approval.  So the job hadn’t hit the presses yet.  The paper hadn’t even been ordered.

Fortunately, the printer did everything they could to put things right

The paper was sent by special delivery to speed production up.  They laid on an extra shift to make sure that it was printed as quickly as possible.  And they arranged for extra deliveries to keep feeding product to the client as it came out of finishing.

The client was delighted.  They realised that a mistake had been made.  But they also realised that everything possible had been done to make things better.

My printer had gone the extra mile

Printers who go the extra mile can create good customer partnerships.  They build trust and confidence out of frustration.  The printer is in control of how to manage the situation.  They achieve a satisfactory outcome for everyone.  And they often avoid heavy compensation claims.

Printers who fail to go the extra mile often spend a long time arguing over compensation with their customers.  That’s because they have alienated the customer.  As a result, they find it hard to control the situation.

So how do you bring situations where you have made an error under control?  Here are three ways:

Respond quickly (and apologise)

The major cause of frustration for many customers is that printers take so long to respond when a complaint is made.  It may take time to find out what went wrong.  But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be communicating with the client.  You should be telling them what you are doing.  Then they are reassured that you are not ignoring them.

If you are clearly in the wrong, then an apology should also be made quickly.  However, you need action as well as words.

Tell the customer what went wrong and what you’ve done about it

The best way to regain customer confidence is to show them that you understand where an error was made.  You also need to show them that you have reviewed the process and made changes.  The customer needs to be reassured that the error will not happen again.

A major reason why I am often not happy after an error is that I feel that the problem has not been truly addressed.

However, you also need to deal with the customer’s situation.

Suggest a course of action (but check with the customer)

Make sure you give the customer a clear plan of how you intend to resolve the issue.  The plan should be detailed and, most importantly, it should have a timeline as well.  However, before you do anything, make sure that the customer is happy with the plan.  You don’t want to risk making things worse by doing something else that the customer doesn’t want..

Some printers ask the customer for a plan of action.  This can be dangerous.

Make sure that you make the first proposal

This means that you are much more in control of the situation.  If you let the client take the lead you leave yourself open to a much more expensive way of resolving the problem.

However, there are some printers who think that resolving issues in this way doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter what the printer does:  the client will fire them anyway

I have actually found that this is rarely the case.  Naturally, I am assuming that the printer has done everything they can to resolve the issue fairly.  I am also assuming that this isn’t a repeat error.

Most buyers recognise that things go wrong.  So they value a supplier that will help them when these situations arise.  After all, there are so many suppliers that simply exhibit a “don’t care” attitude.

Here are three action points to make sure you show the right attitude

  1. Set response times for everyone in your company
  2. Have a monthly meeting to review any errors.  Make sure that processes are revised to ensure that these errors can’t happen again
  3. Make sure you ask your customers for feedback on how you resolved issues

That’s what the printer who messed up my job did.

I still use that printer today

They’ve never made a mistake since.  But it’s great to have a supplier that I can rely on if things do go wrong.

I’ve kept hold of the client too.
P.S.  If you want more strategies to win loyal customers, sign up to the Profitable Print Relationships newsletter right now.  And you’ll get a free copy of  “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do Them”.

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