June '21

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2 8 G R A P H I C S P R O J U N E 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M COMMUNICATION I received an email from a customer this morning asking me if I had received the email he sent me the previous day because he hadn't heard from me. I've worked with this guy for years at the large company he works for, and he constantly shares our name with other departments. I checked the time on the email and sent him a quick message: "Hey Kevin, yes, I did get the email; it came in at the end of the day, so I haven't had a chance to check the details yet." His response, "Oh, no problem. You usually respond right away, so I thought I better check to make sure it went through." Of course, I went on to joke about how I must be slacking. His email came in at about 4 p.m. the day before, and his new email came in about 9 a.m. the following day. So, either I have my customers super spoiled by quick responses, or I'm doing something right. Maybe it's both. Either way, this email exchange reminds me that customers really do appreciate hearing right back from you. I go through my emails numerous times throughout the day, deleting junk, filing the ones I want to reference later in fold- ers, and responding to customers. If I can take a minute to answer a question or provide a resource, I shoot off a quick response and move on. If it's something I need to quote, research, or take a bit of time to respond thoroughly, I still shoot off a quick response letting the customer know I received their email and will be getting back to them with the info/proof/ quote they need. It only takes a minute to do it, and it makes a significant impact. Even on days that I'm going to be out on an install, I still shoot off emails in the morning and again in the afternoon. This way, my customers hear from me within 24 hours. How many times have you emailed or called a company requesting a quote on something, and you don't hear back for a few days? Those in-between days are super important because sometimes you find an- other company that responds quicker, or a slow response makes you hesitant. We want to have our kitchen cabinets painted and have been slowly gathering estimates. Two companies gave us verbal quotes, nothing formal. A third company I messaged through their online form and then followed up with an email providing photos of our kitchen and detailed mea- surements so I could get the ball rolling quicker. Within minutes I received an au- tomated email assuring me they received my email. By that afternoon, I received a text message with an estimate, along with an attached PDF detailing what I would get for the price. Their quote was about $1,500 more than another quote we received, but I was so impressed with their customer service, quick response, and detailed estimate that we may end up going with them despite the extra cost. With how smooth the pro- cess went to get a quote, it gives me con- fidence that the rest of the project should go just as smooth. LISTENING When working with customers, it's tempt- ing to want to do the talking while ex- plaining methods and materials, and there is definitely a time for that as part of the sales process, but listening should come first. Before we can explain anything, we must first find out what information the customer is needing. When a customer comes in, especially when it's someone we haven't worked with before, the conversation usually starts with something like, "I have a new work truck, and I need to get some lettering on it." Or I need a sign for my building, or a banner for a special, or an A-frame to put at the street. However the conversa- tion starts, there is always the same mes- sage: the customer has a need and wants to know if we can help them. A list of questions must be answered before we can help them; this is how we prompt the customer to talk and where we Taking clear notes on this customer's needs, working with him on color selection, and tracking sizes for future orders makes it easy for the customer to order from us in the future. Since color variance was a problem with his last sign shop, we've kept a sample print on file along with clearly noted colors and print files.

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