Honor thy CSR
Publishers today also expect their CSR to intimately know their company. "I would change my CSR if they did not bring new ideas to the table," says Bob Shenberger, director of global production, RCI's Endless Vacation, Indianapolis, Ind.
However, Shenberger understands that he, too, needs to be proactive with his expectations. "I have the CSR spend time at my company and even interact with my product," he says.
"They're part of the family," Kyle agrees. "We occasionally bring CSRs into New York to train during [publication] closes so they can see what happens at our end of the cycle."
For years, printers have sent CSRs to customers' offices to become more familiar with the customers' company, staff and products. "The better the relationship, the better the CSR knows the likes and dislikes, enabling them to pass this information on to the other people in the plant," says Joy Krull, account manager, Banta/Kansas City.
Alex King, an account manager at Quebecor World/Midland, agrees, "CSRs are in the position to suggest improvements, value-added products and services, cost savings and also assist with decision-making." He adds, "Publishers might be surprised how the quality of their decisions can improve by contacting the CSRs early in the information-gathering process and getting their input."
In the past, the industry considered the CSR position as an order-entry position. But as printers evolved—into full-service shops offering everything from color separations to co-mailing—, so did the duties of the CSR.
"Today's CSR needs to be very savvy. They not only need to understand the business of printing, but also the business of publishing and distribution," states Justine Meyer, customer and premedia services department manager, Brown Printing Co., Waseca, Minn. "They need to understand and keep up with the changing technology."
Meyer says, "The job has become more stressful and demanding, and the CSRs are being asked to do more with less. [Also,] due to downsizing and lack of experience on the publisher's side, the CSR is being held responsible for things that they never needed to worry about. They have … become an extension of the publisher without even knowing it."