Honor thy CSR
I know some publishers who remained at the "wrong" printer because of a great CSR and others who have left the "right" printer because of bad CSR.
A good CSR can keep a customer for a long time, and a bad one can lose one overnight. "A CSR forgot to schedule my publication," recalls Coniglio. "So, very late in the production schedule, the paper had to be shipped to another plant in another state so our magazine could get printed. Then, if that wasn't enough, there was a problem finding trucks to ship the magazine back. I attribute a few gray hairs to this experience." (She's no longer at that printer either.)
"The relationship between the publisher and CSR is like a marriage," adds Coniglio. "Communication is key, and it must flow both ways easily. I expect that the CSR will help provide a list of options when things don't go as planned, so we can get the job back on track." Kyle agrees, "One of the biggest no-no's a CSR could do was not communicate or update us on any production problems affecting our magazines."
Randy Weber, publisher, Consumers Digest, Chicago, says, "Somewhere along the line, some forget what the 'S' stands for in CSR. After recently requesting a switch in reps, I called the department head to compliment the new account rep. They were pleasantly surprised because most calls they receive are complaints."
What else can you do to make your CSR's life easier? According to Meyer, "Understand that we are only as good as the information provided. Publishers need to provide clear and accurate information that is on time."
King and Krull both note: Maintain production schedules.
For publishers to expect their printer to perform flawlessly, they, too, need to submit finished materials on time. CSRs now, in many cases, have to work with more than one person at a publishing company. Structure your company so that as few people as possible communicate with the printer. This will help eliminate not only confusion, but having the CSR spend time resolving contradicting instructions.