Customer Experiences Are the Key Factor in Investment Decisions
In today’s competitive environment, determining where to direct precious investment dollars is a key to profitability. Print customer demands and expectations are core ingredients for making the right technology investments and developing the most effective business strategies.
Print providers across all market segments are under enormous pressure to make the right strategy and investment moves to retain and grow customers. Competition is fierce, as customers can select from many print providers and media options ─ beyond print ─ to meet their marketing, graphics, signage, packaging, and communication needs.
In addition, today’s buyers are highly sophisticated, and often specify the process and equipment used to produce print work. A recent NAPCO Research survey of print buyers found that more than two-thirds of respondents (67%) reported being extremely familiar with the processes used to print their company’s materials. What’s more, 86% of print buyer respondents indicate they specify print processes and/or brands of printing devices used to produce their work (Figure 1).
On the topic of picking a provider based on the brand of equipment used to produce work, 70% of respondents report it is a key decision factor. Print providers often question if their sales and marketing efforts should include the brands of printing equipment used in their operation. This survey response sheds light on the value of promoting the brand of printing equipment used.
These responses underscore the importance of understanding and considering customer requirements when making hardware and software investments. Today’s print buyers are highly astute in printing processes and equipment. Discussing equipment and software investment plans with customers is one way to test the expected benefit of the investment and how it will enhance customer benefits.
A customer’s experience is a critical influencer of future work and sustained growth. A positive customer experience promotes loyalty, customer retention, referrals, and recurring work. Excellent experiences go beyond simply taking print job orders, and offer customers valuable benefits that improve their results or make their job easier.
Job Submission is an Essential Customer Interaction
Making it easier for print customers to order jobs, monitor work status, control branding, and better manage spending eases customer anxiety and enhances their experience in working with a provider. According to the NAPCO Research/Canon survey, 81% of print buyers say they prefer working with a print service provider that offers an online ordering tool. That type of online resource helps print buyers better manage print spending and control their brand.
Offering online ordering also offers benefits to print providers. Investing in technologies and processes that enable more efficient job submissions is a key enabler to a fully automated workflow. Today’s web-to-print systems are much more than simple job submission tools, and offer features and functionality to improve efficiency, deliver more to customers, and improve customer experiences. According to a previous NAPCO Research/Canon U.S.A. study, Digital Printing 5.0, commercial printers expected the volume of work submitted through online/web storefront to increase, as other forms of job submission methods decline.
Enhanced customer experiences are essential to keeping print buyers returning for more print services. Print providers have many options to enhance customer experiences, from implementing programs to ensure quality, reliability, and creativity, to educating customers, to improving ordering and job management. Technology investments play an essential role in meeting customer expectations and experiences.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.