Honor thy CSR
In fact, most CSRs don't realize how vital they are. They feel overworked, underappreciated and underpaid. Many publishers think of their CSRs as their own, dedicated employees, which of course, they are not. Most CSRs handle anywhere from three to 12 accounts.
Making Your CSR Happy
So how do you ensure your CSR understands you and is encouraged to be proactive? Acknowledge. Respect. Reward.
Acknowledge your CSRs for their hard work and results. Ask what you can do to make their job easier. Invite them to visit your office to meet the entire staff and make them a part of it.
Respect them by understanding their job and treating them as partners rather than servants. Ask your CSRs for help. Involve them in the creative processes, tapping into their expertise. Recognize CSRs as the resource they really are.
Reward them for their work. All of the publishers interviewed for this article acknowledge that they occasionally reward their CSRs. Laura Coniglio, associate publisher, Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, affirms, "Absolutely, especially if they have done something above and beyond basic customer service. Sometimes it's just a quick e-mail, or a hand-written note, or even a little gift with our logo …"
Publishing is unique because we literally sign our name to our work (the masthead). We take ownership and have great pride in it. Yet, the CSR, who likely works as hard as some of your own staff, doesn't get to share in that glory.
Because of that, it is important to find other ways to let your CSRs know they're an integral part of your magazine's success.
Be a Squeaky Wheel
Sometimes older, non-complaining customers inherit CSRs from the lower-end of the talent pool. Newer or high-maintenance customers, the "squeaky wheels," get "oiled" with better CSRs.
If you feel your CSR is not servicing your account properly, talk to your sales representative. Many publishers don't realize they can request a change. All the publishers interviewed for this article stated that at one time or another they have requested a different CSR. The printing company would rather change CSRs than lose a customer. One of the most damning accusations a printer can face is that they have poor customer service.