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As a global community of consumers, we want everything we purchase to be delivered right at this moment and (to be honest), with our online shopping patterns, we now expect it! It seems like we've all turned into Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Veruca’s behavior and famous quote, “I want it NOW!” were meant as a cautionary tale that instant gratification isn't always the best solution but, when it comes to our current buying patterns, the quote is 100% accurate.
With wide format printing involving a great deal of customization, personalization, and design efforts, the ever-increasing demand for immediate delivery is creating some unique challenges for print service providers (PSPs). Let’s take a minute to look at the top three ways for a PSP to manage turnaround expectations from print buyers.
Most wide format PSPs are not running an exclusively online business. As mentioned above, there is usually a lot of customer interaction to create the best products and applications to satisfy each customer’s unique needs. However, there are some products (e.g., banners, decals, art/photo prints, posters) that can be standardized by size, carted online, content filled in by the customer’s uploaded graphics, and paid for upfront. The entire process involves almost no personal customer interaction and, since most of these applications are regularly produced, they can easily be dovetailed into regular production runs throughout the day.
It seems unreasonable to ask that a wide format PSP become 100% automated. There are just far too many variables to consider in a custom environment. That being said, there are several steps along the way that, if automated, could greatly increase efficiency.
Creating a semi-automated (or fully automated for the standardized products mentioned above) approval process is a great way to alleviate a lot of back and forth to achieve sign-off from the customer. Taking time to audit the approval process, and automate where you can, will free up the design team to focus on more intricate specialized projects (AKA the “fun stuff”) than having to email 20 different iterations of basic applications.
As the chart below indicates, overall error rates are tolerable but have room to improve. Currently, errors that happen often average out to be 9%, though an under 5% error rate would be ideal. How does a PSP get there, though?
While this could be approached with automation or equipment upgrades, I’d like to discuss another approach. Earlier this year, I was introduced to a term called “Empathetic Efficiency.” The term stemmed from when the CEO of a major restaurant chain in the United States went through the day-to-day operations in a hands-on approach with the kitchen and wait staff to look for bottlenecks and inefficiencies. What he found was that there were some processes in place that the staff absolutely hated! The only reason these tasks continued was a “that’s just how we do things” mentality. There was no benefit to the customer. Removing these tasks made operations more efficient, created a much more positive workplace, and cut costs.
Keypoint Intelligence Opinion
PSPs should take a page out of that restauranteur’s book and find out what processes are slowing things down. They may be happily discarded of by the production team, freeing up more time for “the fun stuff!”
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