By Debbie Nicholson, Think-to-INK!
I Just Love A Good Story, Don’t You?
I was on a production training mission with one of my clients on the West Coast last week; however, on the first day of my visit – the CEO shared information regarding one of their top 5 customers that was very concerning to him and me. I suggested he call the customer and ask to secure a face-to-face meeting while I was in town.
We were met with open arms and hugs upon arrival (okay, I am a hugger). While standing in front of these two wonderful people, I thought about how fortunate and blessed I am to be in a position where I get to meet my client’s customers; allowing me to keep in touch with the print industry as a whole.
Let’s circle back -- the reason I pressed for a face-to-face meeting was to establish some guidelines for file setup, operations, production, and perceived expectations. My client received low-resolution art files, incorrect branding style guide elements, typos, and layout errors. And, yes, these issues had been brought up to the customer’s inside marketing team – on several occasions, to no avail.
The meeting began with the customer highlighting their satisfaction with the outstanding quality and excellent customer service. While stating that my client needed to tighten up deliverable timelines – as they were falling short a bit.
My client again enlightened the attendees about how their finished art files were being received for print production (holding up the entire process while going back and forth for corrections). While I know the marketing buyer knew of the problems, I observed that the immediate supervisor was taken aback and confused about the inefficiencies my client had been experiencing.
We discovered that they employ anywhere from 15 to 20 different designers providing print files; at that time, we understood how there could be such inconsistencies with the final art files. So, I asked if their designers could access pre-approved assets (i.e., high-resolution images, approved fonts, production templates, and branding guideline files)? The buyers could not answer that question with assurances.
We discussed that it could be beneficial if our pre-press and design team could hold a series of educational sessions for their designers. That suggested opportunity met with open arms, and we are now figuring out what that landscape could look like for both parties.
Oh, did I mention; during the meeting, they informed my client he is the only company out of their complete print vendor line-up that is removed from a three-bid process requirement. In other words, my client is noted as their only preferred wide-format printing vendor. Woo-Hoo!
Also, we were warned to prepare for a deluge of work for the 4th quarter of the year! Yes, that was great news. That by itself was reason enough to celebrate! This alert allows both parties to resolve all problems and inefficiencies before the big wave hits.
Don’t be shallow in calling for a face-to-face meeting with your customers. We were able to work through some underlying problems that needed to be called out. Now, today, my client is a more valuable vendor than his company was yesterday.
Your To-Do List: Schedule face-to-face meetings with your clients; resolve the issues and concerns that keep you from being your best. Go toe-to-toe if need be; get it done!