Enhancing the Customer Connection—Part 2 Onboarding Customers: Facing the Job Submission Challenge:

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Enhancing the Customer Connection—Part 2
Onboarding Customers: Facing the Job Submission Challenge:

By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

After all the sales efforts behind bringing a new customer into the fold getting them onboard seems almost easy. It even looks like a no-brainer. Then reality sets in that the real work is just beginning. I remember shooting video with the COO of printer who told me onboarding was one of the most complex processes in his company.

The heavy lifting is making sure new customers are comfortable with the details and nuances of how your company works—especially how you and your team will handle the peaks and valleys of your workload. Perhaps surprisingly, how customers send you jobs is just as important. This can be critical because you may be dealing with sensitive and even proprietary information, exacerbated by the business-as-usual habits of designers, product managers, marketing people and more. A recent study done by NAPCO Research on behalf of Canon USA highlighted three key characteristics for job submission: easy to use, fast, and reliable.

These were just three findings from asking 193 commercial printers, 80 in-plant managers and 211 communications buyers to measure job submission trends as part of the onboarding process. These were knowledgeable people, too. About two thirds of communications buyer respondents claimed deep familiarity with the print process and most have been buying print for six or more years. This gives them a good handle on what is going on, making their responses credible indicators of the market.

Even though I was not involved with the study Canon kindly granted me advance and exclusive access to the results so I want to share some of the findings. The report shows what customers look for with respect to job submission as well as ways you may be able to streamline the process and add value for all customers. The report indicates that some basic job submission processes work well, but also show how other methods can create value for you and for your customers. The upshot is that the study shows what buyers expect, what they consider valuable, and that these are key to improving the customer experience.

Old habits die hard
I remember the sense of empowerment the first time I could send a file to a printer electronically. It was a big step up from a SyQuest or Jazz disk or even a flash drive. Online print ordering and job submission have now been available for nearly two decades—enough time for many job submission habits to become established and passed along from a person to her/his successor. Meanwhile, because print buyers and print providers’ adoption of online portals took time, print buyers’ allegiance to such original methods as email and uploading job files became the norm and remain in use today.

Yet while these methods remain popular, the study showed that communication buyers prefer—and use—a variety of options for submitting print work. Much of job submission relies on email, FTP uploads, online file sharing services, and even physical storage media (a 256 GB flash drive still seems almost magical). Email and FTP do not appear to be going away but at least some customers will adopt new approaches—if they can be convinced of the value to their organization. That is your job as a print provider.

Although many of us probably think of ourselves and our customers as being pretty “wired,” the study points out that some 60% of communications buyers use online ordering for print work, yet only 22% of overall print volume is ordered through these systems. Backing this up, over half of respondents reported uploading or emailing files to print providers. This is supported by survey data many of the buyers don’t recognize the benefits of online ordering and can actually reduce their flexibility and bargaining power.

Easy, fast and reliable
According to the Canon research, email and uploading are popular not only because they are familiar but because they are easy, fast and reliable. Plus, about half of respondents value being able to speak to a “live person” when needed, be that a CSR, production manager, graphic artist or whomever.

While not a cure for all customers’ needs, education in the form of lunch-and-learn sessions, training videos, and webinars can help show the advantages of direct file submission via a print provider’s website. A single-click upload can provide all the advantages of email without file size limitations or the lack of security that can come with email—a topic which few want to talk about.

Show the value
Moreover, the study indicated that print buyers did not recognize the value associated with automated job submission, which may be due to unfamiliarity with the process or insufficient training. One point that does add value for print buyers and print providers alike when using a printer’s portal is that the job ticket with all job specs and the job itself can be submitted simultaneously. This can provide a buyer with a price quote when the job is submitted, and they can easily be given the name and contact information of a person with whom they can speak.

Then add pre-flighting to the mix. An optimized job submission site can automatically pre-flight a job and let a customer know whether a file is ready to print, if colors are out-of-gamut, if an image is of insufficient resolution, if a font is missing, or any of the other problems common to print files.

Always on
One interesting finding is that communications buyers highly value being able to submit print orders at any time. Email certainly enables this as do other methods, including uploading directly to a printer’s server or even a cloud-based venue such as Dropbox. Curiously, they also value being able to track print costs, get immediate pricing quotes, access purchasing history, get real-time job status, and reorder jobs, options that are absent when using email, FTP sites or Dropbox.

This tells us three things: One, that email is attractive for its apparent speed and simplicity; two, that the other capabilities of an online portal are appreciated; and three—the important one— that print providers need to be doing a better job of explaining all the benefits and value of online job submission via a printers’ portal. Communications buyers need to be reminded that a portal is always on and offers all the information customers deem important with just a few clicks. The report went on to affirm this: Online job submission tools may offer many powerful job management tools, but buyers are either unaware of them or know how to access them.

This underscores the necessity of making sure salespeople, technicians, CSRs and other customer-facing staff are able to explain the advantages that come with remote submission directly on a print shop’s website.

In talking with customers, it may be helpful to liken online job submission to buying from online entities where she or he already does business, such as Amazon, Home Depot or Walmart. Once a job is specified (the equivalent of product selection at an e-retailer) ordering is a 24/7, one-click process and other info on which customers place a premium is just a click or two away. This works in two ways: The customer can contact a printer’s CSR who can instantly access and provide the needed info. Moreover, customers can do all these things themselves in very little time, which adds value for their business.

Beyond onboarding
As we progress toward a new normal the way many print providers and communications buyers do business has shifted. The pandemic increased remote job submission and sending work from remote locations is expected. Familiarity with emailing files, along with the perceived security of email, continue to drive this choice and presents greater obstacles to online job submission than any aspect of the systems themselves.

Customer resistance to transitioning to e-commerce and online ordering for many of their print applications means print providers may need to offer alternative submission options that are as easy to use as the email/file upload methods, while providing additional capabilities for automating production processes and communications. As part of onboarding, print providers need to educate new customers about the value of using a single online portal for job submission activities. Likewise, existing customers should be shown how online portals can help them do more with and know more about jobs from submission through delivery notification. This all adds value to your company’s offerings and can help differentiate it from competitors.

For all the details you can obtain
the free report here
 

Canon Research

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