Customer complaints are a part of virtually every industry, no matter how great your product is or how tight the standards of operation. One common customer complaint in this industry often relates to color—inaccuracies, fading, and other issues that may be easily resolved or prevented in the future. In fact, customer complaints may be used to the PSPs advantage. Our experts weigh in on this timeless topic.
Turn Lemons into Lemonade
Matt Crawford, Eastern region sales manager, Onyx Graphics, Inc. starts off by stating that many shops do not understand or use a color managed workflow. Crawford offers advice to those that do.
“Customer complaints about color accuracy open a door to a conversation between PSPs and their customers about color management, as well as setting appropriate expectations,” states Crawford. “These conversations can help the PSP build credibility, lead to higher margins, and turn skeptical customers into loyal ones. And—it may sound crazy—these conversations can help print service providers turn away the jobs that are too big of a risk.”
Jan Morovic, senior color scientist and master technologist at HP Graphics Solutions Business, says: “Each printer, ink, and substrate combination has inherent limits for the variety of colors it can match, meaning that any colors outside this range will necessarily be inaccurate. I encourage PSPs to be proactive in discussing color accuracy with potential customers who are likely to be more receptive to providers that openly work with them to get the print right.”
Mark Geeves, director of sales and marketing at Color-Logic concurs that using a color workflow is crucial to achieving success.
“Color management enables printers to predict and control colors on the final printed piece,” says Geeves. “But metallic inks and metallic substrates do not respond to conventional color management. Customer complaints about metallics were the driving force behind the development of our Process Metallic Color System. Using the system, printers create their own swatch books, using their own printers, and thus can guarantee customers that the metallic colors and special effects seen on the swatches can be reproduced correctly.”
Build an Effective Response
Many clients can be appeased if their complaints are responded to professionally and in a timely manner. It is equally important to offer the client resolution and options.
Crawford says, “I find that most color complaints come from not setting appropriate expectations from the beginning. There are inherent limitations to the variety of inkjet printers available. Even with the newest high-gamut printers, a 90 percent ‘hit rate’ of the Pantone Coated library is the best that can be expected. There is no way to get the remaining 10 percent out of the printer. The issue is simply the ink in the printer. For example, it can be hard to match Pantone Yellow with many printers on the market today. Pantone Yellow is brighter, more pure, than the ink in most printers. Once an inkjet printer puts down 100 percent yellow, the only options are to add magenta, cyan, and black. There is no way to make the yellow brighter or more chromatic. No matter how the color is mixed or managed, the PSP can only get as close as the ink in the printer.”
Create a Workflow
The experts agree that using an effective color workflow system prevents and solves problems that may arise in the press room. What do PSPs have to do to set up an accurate digital print workflow?
Morovic states, “Accuracy can mean different things to different customers. For some, accuracy is about minimizing measured color differences, while others think of it as matching their preferences and expectations. In all cases, once the customer’s expectations are understood, fulfilling them requires accurate ICC profiles both for the content received from a customer and for the printer and substrate on which it is to be produced. Having all components of a workflow well defined, profiled, and calibrated allows effective delivery on customer preferences. Whether the intent is to match the customer’s content as accurately as possible or to make the most use of the available printed color gamut, a well characterized workflow is the basis.”