Customer Loyalty and Customer Burden

by Jennifer Matt
A key to maintaining customer loyalty is to reduce the amount of effort you place on your customer to do business with you. Every print sales person I talk to says their customers are loyal to them because of their relationship.

The next question I ask is, “how would you sell against yourself in your most important client?” Funny thing is – they never say “relationship” – what typically comes out is what I’ll call customer “ease”. When sales representatives really step back and look at how they interact with their customers, they realize they put a lot of burden on the customer. They would sell against themselves by making it easier to do business with them.
In a manual print ordering process the steps can be daunting:

1. Customer e-mail or calls

2. Sales representative responds

3. Specifications are discussed

4. Specifications are finalized

5. Submitted to estimating

6. Estimate produced

7. Quote created for the customer

8. Quote signed off

9. PO generated

10. Job enters pre-press

11. Proof created

12. Proof signed off on

13. Job goes into production

We often look at all the labor involved on our side (labor paid for by the printer), but we also need to start considering the labor we’re consuming on the customer’s side. When each and every order into your business requires a multiple step process that is done with high touch/isolated tools (e-mail and phone), you are forcing the customer to use labor too.

Efficiency is about removing non-value add steps to every process. A non-value add step means something you can’t charge for. There is new evidence that reducing customer burden (the effort it takes your customers to do business with you) is a significant factor in customer loyalty.
How much customer burden is your business generating?