Although I have ­spent most of my adult life in the pursuit of all things print, I am admittedly a TV junkie on the side.  Many of the posts I write unrelated to a news article or a blog that sparked an interest are inspired by something I’ve seen on television, and this one is no different.

The Office is a show I watch – er dvr – religiously and last weeks episode struck a chord.  In a very loose paraphrase/recap, so no spoiler alert is necessary if you haven’t gotten to it yet, the question of how is a small paper company still relevant in a world of many online opportunities for purchasing with lower prices came up. The response – The Employees make it relevant. Customer service makes it relevant. Getting someone on a phone makes it relevant. Other stuff happens and then Jim & Pam get a divorce after it turns out the baby is Dwight’s. Ok, that part doesn’t happen Im just making sure you are paying attention.

So back to relevance…

There is so much emphasis on having a social media and online presence as part of the standard business model today, and for good reason. This is the gateway drug to future addiction in your company. If I don’t already have a resource, I am going to search for one online and then search further into any business that fits my current needs. Even if I have a direct referral from a colleague, my next stop is still going to be your website so I can start my own investigation.

As far as my initial research and decision-making process, related to contacting vendors for Print and Print Media…

1. When I look at your website if it is out of date, so are you. On to the next url.

2. If I notice you aren’t engaging through social media, I am going to assume you aren’t up on the latest printing trends or marketing technologies either. If my assumption is wrong, it’s too late anyhow… Im gone. That might seem a bit harsh, but remember most first impressions happen beyond your control in the digital world and there is a HUGE demographic (read that as people younger than you if this needs an explanation) who only communicate this way. As a matter of fact, they might start their search on Facebook !

3. In the cases where 1 and 2 are good, can I easily get in touch with you? If your phone number is missing or hidden in the footer of your website, or I am directed to a generic contact form to fill out the answer is no. You have done a great job up until dropping the ball here. I want instant gratification and 99% of the time, time is an issue and you are making me work too hard, or wait.

4. Getting beyond those three, now we can connect and begin to develop a relationship that I cannot get from an “” situation even if their prices are less. I have a contact I can ask for and they know my name and my business. I receive personal customer service, and there is a human trouble shooting my issues and communicating with me, not an email response to a form 6 days later from CSR #67824 whose name always seems to be Cindy. Have you have noticed lately the responses from such “CSR’s” are based upon what the computer THINKS your problem is based on what you submitted? It can take 2 or 3 tries to get past that before a person gets involved, and they are just a person, not an experienced Print and Print Service Provider!  

So, as the current CEO of Dunder-Mifflin so eloquently related to his employees, the next time you are asked why should I order business cards (etc) from you when they are $1.99 for 500 on line, tell them YOU are the reason and explain that the $1.99 also factors in the amount of customer service they should expect. That should be quite relevant.




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