April '23

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8 4 G R A P H I C S P R O • A P R I L 2 0 2 3 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z A T I O N The materials your customers request You're not always going to be able to satisfy a particular request for a specific material or substrate. Discussing alterna- tives is fine, but remember, we are trying to fulfill a customer request. If we talk our customer into something other than what he or she wants, we better be confident we can produce a perfect result. Sometimes a customer wants to embel- lish a personal piece. In this case, be extremely careful. For example, they may have something that is already very spe- cial to them that they want to embellish, or they may want an expensive piece of crystal engraved. In these cases, a customer will supply something they have only one of, or some- thing that is a "one off." e implications of a less-than-perfect result here are, of course, obvious. Remember, a satisfied customer may never tell anyone about who finished their piece, but you can bet a furious customer will tell everyone they know. Sometimes these very special jobs can be scary. One of my very early jobs involved a $300 piece of crystal. I can't tell you how many times I reviewed the graphic, my machine settings, and whether or not I could afford to replace the piece if I got it wrong. Even after all that, my finger hovered over the start button for what seemed an eternity before I took a deep breath and hit go! (e piece turned out perfectly, thank goodness.) I also had one customer who was very dissatisfied with the result, even after we discussed his job very carefully, and I told him several times I wasn't confident about the out- come. He said it wouldn't be a big deal because it was something only he would see. Nevertheless, when the piece didn't turn out to his satisfaction, he became very upset. Design Design or artwork is critical. Despite the customer insisting their design or photograph is "ideal," they don't neces- sarily understand what our software may or may not be capable of. I'm not going to speak badly of any piece of software, When you begin to produce personalized products for customers, an awful lot of your own ideas go out the window. Always try to offer realistic lead times. It can become all too easy to develop a backlog and then have a customer rush in with an "emergency" request.

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