Honor thy CSR
Today's CSRs need to be detail-oriented, excellent communicators, able to multitask, confident and empowered to act on their customer's behalf.
They also need "patience, patience, patience … and a psychology degree," jokes Frances Harkness, customer service manager, C&C Offset Printing Co., China.
Dave Russo, Midwest sales manager for Publishers Press, Louisville, Ky., says his company assigns a technical representative who takes over as a senior service manager. "They are there to approve press sheets, bound books and proofs when the customer cannot," says Russo. "Their job is to know all there is to know about our company's capabilities and assist our customers whenever they need help. They help our customers pre-plan special projects; assist in money-saving ideas, budgeting, postal regulations, etc. If they don't have an answer, they know where to get one."
Good Help Is Not Negotiable
No matter the team structure, what is ultimately important to the publisher is that they have a CSR who knows and understands them, that is sharp, confident and detail-oriented. Like the old cliché, "Good help is hard to find," so are good CSRs. Do not take them for granted.
Many overlook the CSR in the printer selection process. "Service has also become somewhat of a commodity these days," says Meyer. "What was the glue that held long-term relationships together in the past is being overshadowed by price and technology." That would be a shame, as price is negotiable, but good service is not.
Steven W. Frye is owner of Frye Publication Consulting, a printing and publishing consultancy in Hailey, Idaho. He is an expert in magazine- and catalog-production processes, and has negotiated printing, paper and distribution contracts for dozens of publishers. He can be reached at Steve@SteveFrye.com.