A print company owner emailed me to ask the simple question: what does the average print buyer really look for in a printer today?
Giving a simple answer to a tricky question is a challenge that I accepted. I put aside all thoughts of specific technologies and capabilities. Here’s what I came up with:
Honesty & integrity
These are by far the most important qualities a customer looks for in a printing company. If a printer proves to be otherwise, there are no second chances, and the bad reputation will spread like poison ivy to the customer’s colleagues and acquaintances.
Seasoned print customers in particular prefer printers who make suggestions on ways to improve and enhance their materials. It’s one real way by which a printer can stand out in a sea of other printers. Novice print customers won’t necessarily recognize this quality from the outset. However, I strongly believe it’s a way to differentiate your print company.
Print and deliver it fast. That’s a given for every customer – corporate and consumer. We have Amazon to thank for that. Your customers will look to see how fast you can deliver their products. It’s critical.
Very good quality
It’s the most obvious ‘must-have.’ Whatever it is they’re buying from you, buyers expect excellent quality.
Even if customers never articulate their specific (and unique) expectations, they’ll presume you’ll put their jobs in production right away unless they hear otherwise. They’ll presume a lot, in fact: that you’ll keep them informed of problems. That you’ll tell them in advance when to expect proofs, plus how the proofs will come to them and what to do with them. They’ll presume, too, that the work will be delivered when you agreed to do so, and that the quality will be as good if not better than they hoped. In a nutshell? No surprises. That says it all.
See above. All print customers expect their printers to keep them informed of what matters to them — when their proof’s coming, the delivery schedule, potential price changes, and so on.
Customers shop for printers, and price is part of the equation. Hopefully, people shopping for the best printer know how to select similar companies so they can get comparable prices. This is not always the case, particularly with novices who think a printer is a printer.
Whatever the service is that people pay for, they want respect from the provider. This includes printers. It’s the whole package: how you speak to them and treat them, how you handle problems that arise, how fair or balanced the business relationship is, how seriously you take their concerns, and how quickly you respond.
Put these expectations together and you get a package that spells professionalism. It can’t be much simpler than that.
© 2015 Margie Dana