Loyalty in Print: Price vs. Service

I have heard a lot of interesting comments (and read) about loyalty and brands… What does it mean to be loyal to a brand/organization? What ensures that we as printers build and engender loyalty in our daily engagements with current and future customers especially when price is such a dominating force? It used to be about quality, that those that produced the best quality generated loyal customers; however as technology has progressed and new printers can provide “good enough” quality at an affordable price, then the old values change.
My first question to my fellow printers is this: Does a low price get you loyalty or merely interest in what you are offering? A low price may guarantee that people stop and listen but it may not necessarily bring back repeat customers. In some cases it does… but overall I believe it has to be more than that.
My next question is around customer service. Does a good level of customer service build loyalty and generate repeat customers? Yes, I believe it does. If done well, great customer service is a key contributing factor in building long lasting customer loyalty. When it comes to competitive responses, the printing industry seems to want to drop prices at any opportunity. And yes this may need to be done to stay alive but eventually the time will come when the costs are cut as far as you can take them, that the new start up around the corner working out of his garage is even cheaper, then what, where to from there? As an industry we can see this spiral beginning, but it need not end disastrously.
Does great customer service mean you are not price effective (cheap) or that you are expensive and will customers pay more for great service?
In my experience in varying industries it is those that offer first rate customer service that seem to be the ones that have the most loyal customer base. So why should print be any different? As it stands today there are a large number of printers in the graphic arts markets in varying cities around the world, but does this mean they all need to compete on price or can the service make a difference. In fact from a marketing perspective, this is a great source of building and sustaining a competitive advantage that is more often than not completely overlooked by printers.
Loyalty is something we all need. Word of mouth about good customer service is as effective as a viral marketing campaign touting your services— yet costs next to nothing.
In an ever increasingly competitive global market place, customer service isn’t the face to face service of the past… but a digital presence, a desire and an ability to do more, be more and give more that will keep them coming back for more— even if the price is higher than those around the corner.
For those reading this looking to differentiate I would look at customer service, this old, unloved part of the business that is pushed aside in favor of technology or price, yet as human beings (yes even us printers belong to this group), being treated well, going the extra mile should not be underrated. Give a moment’s thought to the last time you had positive customer service and I bet it’s a brand that you will deal with again, and if the cycle repeats then the loyalty builds.

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  1. Anna Marie January 3, 2012 -

    I really do agree that loyalty of customers really matters. This is something all business establishmemnt needs from their customers. In return the customer needs good customer services, they should be treated well and should be provided with outmost respect for them to give loyalty in return.

    Anna Marie

    Blog: ponceuse à bande 

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