Is the “blame game” costing you business?

When stuff goes wrong, seize the opportunity to become a trusted advisor

You know how the old saying goes: 80% of business comes from 20% of your customers.

No matter what the size of your business, it should not be difficult to name your top ten accounts. These are the accounts that generate the most revenue for your business and an “all hands on deck” attitude when issues arise. Even if it’s the customer who is actually at fault.

This, my friends, is where the “blame game” begins.

Say, for example, you regularly receive files that aren’t set up right from one of your longstanding customers. No matter how many times you send over the specs you require, something always needs a fix. It’s easy to presume that the designer preparing the files is unfamiliar with printing techniques and best practices, because the reality is that this is becoming more and more an everyday occurrence. In truth, the errors could result from a variety of sources. Perhaps someone else is prepping the files and they haven’t been properly briefed. Perhaps the job was spec’d wrong, or there was an error in the quote, or you need to run it on a different press.

Regardless the reason, errors slow down the flow of the job. Errors make for an uncomfortable call to the customer, and result in the inherent pointing of fingers as the blame game plays out. In the meantime, frustration sets in – on both sides – and the relationship sours.

Even if you have the means in place to catch and fix the errors before any real damage is done, the point is that with every change, you are introducing another step into your production process. If you don’t get to the root cause, the problem could perpetuate and the blame game will continue, leading to ripple effects felt throughout your business.

What happens the next time you are looking for a referral? Or when that designer who provided the bad file moves to another company, taking a negative impression of your company along with them? That’s right, your bottom line suffers.

But what if you took a different approach? What if you could find a way to turn the blame game around and use that “frustration” to generate revenue…before your bottom line gets dinged? What if you could grow your top 20%, by building relationships with the other 80%?

Let’s go back to the example of the files not being set up properly. Here you have an opportunity to take an issue that might very well result in the loss of a customer, and turn it into an opportunity to become a trusted print advisor.

Identify the areas within your business where frustration often sets in. Ask your support people which questions they get asked frequently. Look for tips and tricks from your order entry team, as well as cost-saving tips from your estimating team.

Leverage the various subject matter experts in your business to create information that you can share, through a variety of platforms and marketing channels, as well as by your sales, service and support teams. Relevant information that not only addresses and helps solve these common problems before they happen, but educates your prospects and customers and improves their overall experience with your company.

Consider developing a guide that outlines these best practices, identifies ways to avoid common mishaps, provides cost-saving and time-saving ideas, as well as testimonials from satisfied customers. Show before and after images, and showcase your shop’s capabilities in a beautifully printed piece, as well as a shareable, digital download. Want to take it a step further? Offer a workshop and invite your customers and prospects to attend. Invite them on a tour and focus on the areas most impacted when mistakes happen, while featuring the great results in your showcase piece. Produce a video of the event and feature it on your website. The possibilities, and opportunities, are endless.

Nobody likes to lose business. Are you prepared to risk yours by playing the “blame game”?

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Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: joanne@joannegorecommunications.com Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121