Online print ordering, the end of customer service?
With a multitude of online print companies to choose from, for ordering a variety of print items, through a desktop order interface, many have said the days of the print CSR (customer service rep) are numbered. Many of these online companies provide only email or IM support. The products they offer have become standardized and commoditized. After all, where is the value in paying for real person to person interaction. Wouldn’t we all be better off just choosing from what these companies offer us and accepting that we likely payed the lowest price possible for our business cards, brochures, postcards etc.? What do you think?
The company I represent builds and hosts web based print order storefronts. Clients appreciate the ease of ordering that they bring. The benefits are many and problems are few when used appropriately. Our storefront offering is actually fully customizable unlike the standard web printer which restricts you to set paper stocks, sizes and finishing options. When used for appropriate applications this automation can be the best way to order print. So what is the problem?
Technology will continue to create efficiencies but the needs of most clients will continue to fall outside the parameters of a fully automated workflow. Most will want to work with experienced knowledgeable people to help create the channels and products to communicate their message and stand out from their competition. I don’t know of many visionary business people that are happy to always settle for Choice A, B or C.
Automated online workflows are perfect for repetitive jobs with set variables and predefined spec options however most of my client’s jobs/projects introduce some new variable not accounted for in that pre-built workflow. I’m not talking about business cards, letterhead & envelopes. I’m referring to:
*Multi-component products that include multiple operations and involve a complex dance of scheduling to meet deadlines.
*Complex cross media marketing campaigns with many moving parts, schedules and components that can change while in progress.
*Clients that demand something different resulting in material or process changes that affect workflow and scheduling.
I believe that automated workflows will continue to create efficiencies but we are far off from eliminating the CSR from the equation. Our clients (even those with online order systems we created) count on our CSRs every day to masterfully handle the unanticipated changes caused by, changing needs, equipment, material availability and more. The CSR is able to somehow perform a dance that makes it all work out more often than not and make us shine as a company in the eyes of our clients. Until we can build that into an automated workflow we better keep in mind that businesses are made up of people. Technology is a tool. A tool without people is really just an obstacle to our goals.
Until next time…
To Your Success!