“We’ve empowered our customers to communicate clearly and effectively that they approve or do not approve their estimate."

I’m not talking about a wicked cool song by Led Zeppelin – I’m talking about what happens every day in businesses everywhere – all the time.

You can be the best _______ (fill in the blank with any profession) ever in the history of ever at something but if you don’t have happy customers you probably won’t be in business for very long unless you work for the DMV. (lol) I know you’re probably thinking, “yeah no sh!t Sherlock!" However every day many of us respond to our customers like they are an inconvenience or a pain in the a$$. Nine times out of ten if they are unhappy or being difficult it’s because there has been a communication breakdown somewhere along the way. The truth is that it’s very difficult to keep up with everything happening at once at the speed of light. Invariably we get overwhelmed and we don’t always communicate the way we want or intend to. Stuff just falls through the cracks.

Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship or married can attest that the biggest problem most of them face is horrible communication. Talk to any marriage/relationship counselor and they will agree. Of course the rules for relationships are universal and whether we are talking about a significant other, a family member – or our business – the rules still apply. Our relationships with our customers are directly linked to how we communicate with them. What is the most important part of communication? Listening. It is paramount that we take the time to listen to our customers. When a customer knows they are being listened to – trust is developed. I always like it when an order taker at the drive through reads my order back to me. That way any mistakes can be addressed before I get my order and drive away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered something only to be told “OK drive around" only to find out that the Big Mac I ordered somehow got translated to Chicken Sandwich after checking the receipt. This happens all the time with Screen Printing and Embroidery Shops. Sometimes it’s because of lazy listening skills – other times it’s because information about the order isn’t communicated clearly to other departments.

The latter can be addressed by simply enacting well thought-out protocol along with the use of shop management software. The software we use at our shop allows us to easily communicate with our customers. From estimates to shipping and every step of the process in between. Some recent development has made the art proofing process much easier and more importantly – more effective. The dialog between artist and customer flows back and forth dynamically until proofs are approved with a signature and all communication is logged and time-stamped. Another way communication flows better is when we email an invoice to our customer they can approve it with the click of a mouse. We’ve empowered our customers to communicate clearly and effectively that they approve or do not approve their estimate. The days of phone tag and lost emails are over. In most cases turn-around time from estimate to job takes minutes instead of hours or even days.

At Perfect Image we use PriceIt Software. We love it – we should – we developed it. Better communication has not only strengthened our relationships with our customers – it has increased our bottom line. Customers are never “left in the dark" wondering what is going on and where we are in the production process. Never before has communication with our customers been this good.

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