Whether you’re happy or not with your current print vendor, looking for a new print vendor or looking for your first print vendor, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind before stepping into (or out of) or continuing these relationships.
1) Is your print vendor’s Customer Service Department friendly and willing to take your calls on the phone?
Vendors who often have Customer Service staff who are overburdened with work, unpleasant and unwilling to go the extra mile, can be the worst experience to go through when ordering a print piece. I know some clients that have stayed in relationships with their print vendors who they absolutely dreaded ordering from. They did it because, “they were just the vendor that we always used” or, “we didn’t know of anyone else that could do it”.
Even worse, are the vendors who don’t even HAVE a Customer Service department and rely on their staff members serving in other business functions who REALLY don’t have the time and desire to deal with your call.
The ABS Customer Service Team handles every call with the care and consideration it deserves. Whether you’re our largest client or our smallest, we always go the extra mile to make sure you’re satisfied.
2) Can you speak to the Production Staff when needed?
One of the worst experiences you can have with your print vendor is being stonewalled from talking to the right people. Granted, this doesn’t need to happen very often, but when it does need to happen, getting in touch with the right person is imperative.
From time to time even the best Customer Service team needs to cut out the middle man and get a customer directly linked up with the folks that are producing the end product. Often these cases revolve around very complex print jobs or variable data projects that have a lot of moving parts and deal with sometimes dozens of different variables.
Communication between our Production and Customer Service teams is paramount to our success. Whenever the need arises to engage the customer in the production process, our Customer Service team will get the right people involved (and on the phone) to ensure everything runs smoothly.
3) Slow turns on proofs
Most printers these days have production times that are aggressive. Especially in the variable data printing world where there are often projects with the need for 72, 48 or even 24 hour SLAs from proof approval. The number of these projects have grown tremendously in the last decade to meet the demands of our fast-paced world.
The caveat to this, however, is that many printers’ production timetable begins AFTER proof approval, giving them a sort of cushion (that many will exploit) in order to meet their SLAs. There’s nothing worse than having to wait two days for your artwork to be turned around so you can approve it – especially when as a client, you may have multiple levels of approval that need to happen. This can create delays in your production and leave YOUR members or customers waiting.
Proof turns happen in some cases almost instantly with our automated composition engines kicking into action the minute your files are uploaded into our system. For jobs that aren’t automated, we adhere to whatever SLA the client needs, with the required proofing time INCLUDED in all of our SLAs.
4) Confirmation of mail delivery
Whether you’re sending monthly statements or a one-off marketing mailing, having the knowledge and confirmation that your job has entered the mail stream can be critical to your down-stream business processes. There may be something action that has to happen next like a call center or data team that needs to be on the lookout for responses or payments from your mail recipients.
If your print vendor doesn’t offer a confirmation of job completion, you or your team can get caught unaware of these things, adding further latency to your communications and slowing you down.
Every mailing job that hits our machines is logged when it enters the mail stream and our customers can request to be notified when a particular job enters the mail stream. For our enterprise level clients, notification is automated, so they know where each piece of communications is during the production process including the entry to the mail stream.
5) Poor image quality
Especially in the transactional and statement printing world, image quality or overall print quality is something that is often overlooked much to your detriment. Print vendors who rely on aging or improperly maintained equipment can have a finished product that, while it conveys the necessary information, isn’t up to the task of representing your organization professionally. Images and text can appear faded or blurry on older machines and don’t deliver the sense of quality that your mail recipients expect.
Our five state of the art print engines are always under OEM maintenance contracts, making sure they’re properly maintained and always putting out the highest level of print quality for both our color and black-only presses.