By Lemay Sanchez, Managing Director of PlanProphet, Inc.
Leaders from all industries, including signs and graphics, have a lot to learn from hospitality forerunners. In my early days of selling print, I had the blessing of being responsible to oversee the accounts of several upmarket hotels in the area. This vertical quickly became my favorite to manage, and not because they bought the most.
Rubbing shoulders with executives of some of the best ran hospitality facilities in the country made me realize that one thing, and one thing alone, makes the difference between one or five stars and mediocracy or excellence: the customer experience. The formula is simple, get it right, and they will be coming back for more. Mess it up, and the chances of hearing from them again are slim, next to none. Luxury casino and hotel mogul, Steve Wynn, once said that “If an experience is instantly gratifying, it will be repeated”.
Two terms coined in the hospitality industry can also be transmuted to print jargon: front of the house (FOH) and back of the house (BOH). The latter refers to the stuff customers typically don’t see, such as your production workflow, equipment, materials inventory, or the occasional paper trimmings scattered around the floor. When in disarray, these elements can impact staff morale and product outcome, which in turn, will affect customer experience. So yes, please pay attention to the BOH too.
On the other hand, FOH covers everything that your customers experience when they interact with your business. By default, aesthetics plays an important initial factor in your FOH customers’ experience. Examples are the way your website looks, the staff’s uniform, the shop’s lobby decoration, delivery truck branding, email signatures, or phone greetings.
Not so evident, but an even more significant attribute to FOH is the structure and consistency in which your team interacts with your audience, first during the lifecycle of a quote or an order and subsequently during their tenure as a customer. The challenge here is that unlike the aesthetics component of FOH, a month’s terrific effort at improving it will not guarantee future recurring rewards.
Instead, it requires a culture of continuous daily grind and discipline. Sadly, even the most willing and efficient salesperson or customer service rep will need to take a day off or have urgent fires to put out. When such inevitabilities happen, who’s going to follow up on pending tasks or nurture relationships? The Achilles’ heel of customer experience lies in the repeatable consistency of great efforts.
PlanProphet elevates the customer experience by continuously pulling content from your MIS and then acting on behalf of your staff to carry some of this load. Here are 6 examples of how it does it:
- Quote Follow-Up: Few fruits hang lower than a quote sent awaiting approval. PlanProphet keeps track of them and follows up on behalf of your team at intervals of your choice, increasing your odds of winning them by 17%. After all, nothing tells customers that you want their business more than proactively and persistently asking for it.
- Post-Sale Check-In: The immediate days that follow on a job being completed provide an often-overlooked opportunity to guarantee repeat business. Going the extra mile to perform satisfaction inquiries, ensure your customers know you’re always listening. PlanProphet automatically assumes this responsibility on your team’s behalf by connecting with buyers after each sale. A filter can be used to ask buyers only once or twice a year, ensuring that your top clients don’t receive more probes than they should.
- Customer Journeys: The sequence of communications new buyers receive during their first year of tenure is critical in ensuring they feel appreciated from day one. This is why PlanProphet uses pre-defined Customer Journeys that automatically begin the day of a new buyer’s first order with a warm welcome email. It then continues informing them of your products and services in the coming months, culminating with a happy anniversary communication exactly one year later. Now that’s customer experience!
- Dormant Buyers Check-In: Nothing makes customers feel more special than when you notice their absence and chime in. PlanProphet checks your MIS daily, looking for buyers whose last job date lapsed 6, 8, 10, or 12 months ago. It then sends a short, human-like message to qualified buyers on behalf of the CSR or salesperson that typically handles the order. As a result, 9 dormant accounts are re-activated each month thanks to these inactive account check-in behaviors.
- Order Status Notifications: Effective customer experience and FOH automation are synonymous providing timely and effective customer communications regarding their order process. PlanProphet habitually notifies clients of critical order milestones such as new order acknowledgments, proofs pending approval and orders completed, ready to pick up, or shipped.
- Billing Automation: Using PlanProphet to automate collection not only helps you get paid 21 days faster with 80% less staff effort, but it also aids your customers in what is likely their less favored part of dealing with you: paying their bill. This is achieved by systematically sending invoices on the same day jobs are completed and then submitting statements with a copy of each referenced invoice at regular intervals. Courtesy payment reminders and past-due notices are also sent to avoid delays in processing future orders.
PlanProphet integrates with Printer’s Plan, PrintSmith, and EPMS. Coming soon to PressWise and Corebridge. To learn more about PlanProphet, or to book a personalized demo, please visit www.planprophet.com.