Be Your Own Customer
Here’s an idea you may have read about in a management text or heard at a conference: Be your own customer. It’s a good one, and you should try it sometime.
As managers, we think we know how our shops run, and we stress the importance of meeting customer expectations to our staff, but do we really understand what the customer experience is like? And why that experience might drive customers to look for alternative sources for printing?
I spend a lot of time talking to in-plant customers. Sometimes I think I know more about what the in-plant’s customers think than the manager. When I meet with them, we generally talk about their experiences as customers. If printing is easy to get, customers can spend more time focused on doing whatever it is that the organization hired them to do, but if ordering from the print shop is a hassle, they won’t do it. So I ask people to tell me what the print shop does well and what they would like to see it do differently. The responses are revealing. Here are some actual responses to the question: What could the print shop do to improve services?
• Check completed jobs; sometimes there are errors in assembly.
• Why can’t we get an invoice for every job?
• Faster turnaround time on quotes. One to five days is too long for an estimate. (Vendor name) will do the job while I wait, but you guys won’t even do an estimate while I wait.
• Have the guy at the middle desk get up to greet customers instead of yelling at them from his seat.
• Become more competitive with the prices at (vendor name).
• You take too long.
• Why does it take multiple proofs to get a business card printed? Everything was right on the card I sent with my order.
Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.
Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.