Why Printing Sometimes Goes Wrong
When you see Case Studies for printing businesses you think everything goes well – all of the time.
To be honest, problems seem to be rare with developments in technology and software.
But things sometimes go wrong.
And when they do occur the response varies enormously.
The same sentiments are echoed by leading print suppliers in this week’s Print Week publication.
Why Printing Sometimes Goes Wrong
By far the biggest area of print problems relate to errors in the preparation of the artwork.
Even experienced graphic designers make mistakes.
We had a major re-branding exercise that went badly wrong with a spelling mistake – after at least 20 proof copies were supplied to the client.
We receive artwork from customers every day and in the majority of cases it needs to be tweaked in some way.
And design agencies are often the worst culprits!
When we printed a full colour newsletter for a trade association we re-printed the job free of charge even though the artwork was not set up properly.
Our policy now is to re-print free for our own errors and for half the price if our client makes an error.
2. Printing Problems
Digital printing presses are generally reliable but still prone to the odd technical problems.
But nothing compared to our older offset litho printing presses.
I still have nightmares over the first large offset print order we undertook back in 1992.
We printed menus for a high quality Chinese restaurant using very expensive Stratakolor paper and card.
The many variations of menus resulted in a large combination of short runs (and expensive metal printing plates).
After an electrical storm the previous evening the static in the paper caused problems when printing the following couple of days.
Our old Rotaprint press at the time was also having a bad day and my printer was due to go on holiday at the end of the week.
We ended up printing twice the quantity to select the best quality prints.
Finally he then drilled the wrong sides of the menu to insert in holders.
That wasn’t a profitable start to our new venture into Quick Printing!
3. Communication Problems
The great thing about online printing is that there is less risk of any communication problems.
Some years ago, we took a verbal order for some urgent documents printed and delivered by SameDay courier.
We thought our client had ordered 15 documents and they had actually ordered 50 documents.
At least with online printing we get a printed worksheet with the input provided by the client so there is no chance of a misunderstanding.
And our retail orders now also have an automated confirmation system to try and eliminate human error.
Good communication is the basis for good customer service and is a major factor in why printing sometimes goes wrong.
4. Delivery Problems
The delivery service is often the weakest link in the chain for an online print business.
It is the one part of the service that is usually sub-contracted out to specialists when offering a national or UK delivery service.
Although you can get a job re-printed – with a fast digital or document print service it is often too late.
It gets even more complicated when your printing or documents are distributed across Europe or around the world.
We can offer numerous examples of customers awaiting the courier at a delivery location as the training course was about to start – even once when a taxi was waiting to take a client to the airport!
With one consignment of training manuals held up by customs in Switzerland we had no choice but to re-print.
At 4pm on a Friday afternoon we made a call to a digital print shop in Geneva to print and deliver new manuals for the start of the training course the next morning.
Again, an expensive lesson but we have retained the client for many years!
5. Payment Problems
There is nothing worse than doing a job and then not getting paid.
Bad debts and slow payment remain the most frustrating and stressful part of running a small business.
The beauty of online printing is that you get payment with the order.
And with the growth of credit card and direct bank payments – cheques are gradually becoming obsolete.
So by taking the necessary precautions – the incidence of fraud is no longer the risk it used to be.
Some years ago we even had to take our debt collectors to court to recover monies they had collected on our behalf!
The Test of Customer Service
So, the next time a company advertises excellent customer service and numerous success stories dig a bit deeper.
Ask them to provide some case studies into situations that have caused problems and what action was taken to rectify the situation.
You will find out why printing sometimes goes wrong and also evaluate the business as a perfect print partner.