The internet became the most popular market in the world. Commodities and services are virtually changing hands and customers. The variety of transactions is endless and one of them is the request for printed materials. Business cards, magnets, flayers, envelopes, rubber stamps, postcards, invitations, and so on, are printed in Canada for a client in Singapore or manufactured in England for a customer from Russia.
Old-traditional-conventional-offline print shop begins the process when a client enters the shop physically, body and flesh, sits by the graphic artist and together they todos os canais. are working on the order, the contact is face to face.
New-modern-high-tech-state-of-the-art-online print shop begins the process when a client sends an E-mail or an online order through the net without any close and human physically contact. Messages are exchanged by written words. Even telephone contact is not used – only in “emergencies”. Customer services are served through “Chats”, “Forums”, E-Mails and other online channels.
A written order, delivered through the net, is limited to a certain defined framework which is pre designed according to the computerized algorithm. There must be a limit to the various numbers of different possibilities of the computerized process. Not all the customer’s requests can be addressed. There will always be those who wouldn’t be satisfied with the main stream of creating an online product. For those people – the sites designers created an exceptional channel which is almost like a dialog between the customer and the receiver, only from remote control.
Therefore the computerized process is very structured and modified, based on the experience accumulated from the most frequently cases known in the industry. It’s a kind of virtualization simulation imaging the manually order, as the history of old times print shops told us, only the new way is a little bit more sophisticated and adapted to the modern way of thinking and living.
The offline process
1. Working together, the customer and the graphic artist, in real time, side by side, can prevent the most common frustration when the customer receives the finished product and discover that it’s not what he expected. In the offline process the customer approves the product sample which is shown to him on the spot.
2. While working together, shoulder to shoulder, warm human relations are built between people and the whole situation is changed and become more friendly than business like. The tones are different and the customer feels “at home”. Customers like this become regular customers, in most cases.
3. From the customer point of view – the close relationship with the print shop staff helps him to put some kind of a pressure to get a discount or a special deal. From the print shop point of view – such a customer doesn’t have the anonymous cover that the online customer has and in most cases there wouldn’t be any problems with collecting payments.
4. Several types of projects can’t be manufactured unless the customer and the graphic artist are sitting together and work on it in real time. Catalogues, Family albums, and such – are too complicated to be sent by online means and done without direct dialog.
1. Graphic artists are the busiest people in the print shop. They are the bottleneck of the manufacturing printed materials process. All other jobs are automatically performed. In many cases the graphic artist needs an environmental peace and quiet. In other cases the graphic artist is disturbed by his supervisor to meet an “emergency” immediately to be solved problem. In such cases the presence of the customer, close to the graphic artist, is a real problem. The customer can get the wrong impression about how the print shop is run and generally speaking – it’s not “healthy” that outsiders will be involved so deeply in the day to day working habits of any company.
2. Close human relations can be an advantage in business life but all the same it can become a disadvantage when people don’t like each other on personally bases when their relations have to be “strictly business” – cold, effective and objective.
1. The remote distance between the client and the service provider is supposed to create a sterilized working environment which establishes an objective neat process performed by professional criteria. This way we expect no arguments between the customer and the service provider. The process elements are supposed to be clear to both sides without any doubts.
1. I mentioned above that “the remote distance between the client and the service provider is supposed to create a sterilized working environment” and so on. In reality it doesn’t happen. Somehow interpersonal tensions are penetrating the process Via E-Mails or online customer service channels. Verbal violence is not uncommon when people are hiding behind the remote telephone line or the anonymous E-Mail, saying or writing words they wouldn’t have use if the contact was face to face.
2. There are a lot of people who don’t understand written instructions. There are a lot of misunderstandings in the system. The print shop can take a cover behind the computer screens claiming that everything is open and clear but the client, who didn’t receive what he thought he ordered is angry and frustrated and the accumulated damages to the print shop are piling.
3. The most common frustration occurs when the customer designs his own printed material (business cards, for the matter) and what he sees on the screen is not what he gets in hand after several days. There is a certain color shades tolerance between computer screens and heavy duty online printers. Good customer service procedure is trying again and again until the customer is satisfied. (paying for one job only, of course)