If your print shop sells business marketing products, you know how much your customers want to improve every element of the customer experience. Today, every company strives to deliver a memorable impression with every aspect of printed, digital, and face-to-face communications. So whether your shop prints marketing collateral, signage, labels, or posters, you should try to deliver an exemplary print shop customer experience.

For example, automating your business and production workflows can help support a consistently professional experience in terms of estimating, proofing, color, product delivery, and invoicing. Cloud-based job data can give every employee who deals with customers round-the-clock access to the specs and status of all jobs in progress.

Even better, a well-executed automation program can free your customer-service representatives to devote more time to solving problems that improve customer relationships. This includes dealing with unhappy and difficult customers. How your employees deal with unhappy customers can be a key part of the print shop customer experience. Here are a few tips:

Make it easy for customers to reach a live person. Some customers will prefer to check on the status of a job themselves. If problems arise, some may prefer to communicate via email or online chat. But your customers should always know how to quickly reach a customer-service person or account representative by phone. When major problems arise, most customers want personalized, human communications.

Stay calm and professional, even while the customer vents his or her frustration. Don’t take it personally. Just listen. Communicate with each client as if they were your boss.

Make sure you understand the real problem. If you aren’t sure you understand exactly what has upset them, ask for clarification in writing. People don’t always communicate clearly when they are upset. Writing forces them to think more rationally about the nature and extent of the problem, Documenting the problem also helps prevent further misunderstandings.  

Act fast to make it right. Act quickly and decisively to rectify the problem. Encourage your customer-service reps to communicate the proposed solution in a friendly, personable manner. Your customer service rep should sound more like the customer’s ally than adversary.

Be sincere in the apology. Don’t follow a script or try to make excuses. Use empathetic language that shows that you understand their point of view. Some customers prefer getting an apology in writing, so they can hold you accountable if you don’t follow through. Others will prefer hearing the apology over the phone. Apologizing in person or over the phone is a better way to make sure they know you are sincere.  

Reward the customer for their loyalty. Check in with the customer after the problem has been resolved. Offer discount vouchers or other perks to encourage them to continue to do business with you. Try to put the bad experience behind you as quickly as possible by providing exceptional service on the next job.

Keep records of the communications in your customer relationships management software so the issue is less likely to reoccur. Share ideas about how to prevent the mistake from happening in the future. Also, keep track of specific solutions that kept that client happy.

Reward your customer service team for resolving major problems. Customer-service employees who are on the receiving end of complaint calls can easily get discouraged. Demonstrate that you value their work. Recognize employees who have been exceptionally resourceful and successful in resolving customer complaints.

Is the Customer Unhappy or Difficult?

If a customer continues to complain about issues that aren’t always significant, you may be dealing with a “difficult” customer instead of an unhappy one. Highly critical, nitpicky customers are unlikely to be satisfied no matter how hard you try to please them. Aggressive customers are difficult because they expect their orders to always take priority over those of other customers.

When you automate your print shop business management functions, your employees will be able to see more information about each customer: How often do they buy from your shop? How much do they buy from your shop? What types of complaints have they have they made in the past and how were they resolved? If these customers become so difficult to work with that you can’t earn a profit on their business, maybe it’s time to let them go.

Even if you have the best automation system in place, a few customers will be justifiably unhappy when a few slip-ups do occur. Customers will complain if their order is delivered late or to the wrong address. Problems also arise if the job is printed on the wrong material of with the wrong colors. Some issues may not be your print shop’s fault. Even so, how your team reacts and responds will influence that customer’s experience.

So if you don’t want your print shop to get negative online reviews and comments, automate your print shop business management functions and train everyone on your staff to communicate effectively with your customers.