Customer education can be an inexpensive and effective way to make your company different in the marketplace and result in better customers. With today’s technology, it is easy to educate a customer and establish realistic expectations from printing customers. Customer behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You can influence their behavior with the information and training you provide. The more a customer knows about the printing process, the higher their satisfaction and trust will be. The result is a better customer.
Decide what your customers need to know. With your staff, brainstorm 50 topics about which your customers need to know. What are the common questions customers have? What are the best practices customers need to know about? What are some of the behind-the-scenes information the customer would want to know? The topics become the foundation for the information your customers need.
Write it down. Have someone get the information written down. Whether it is a staff person or an outside copywriter, you must get the information written down into short, easy-to-understand explanations that can be used both on print and online.
Then, get it to the customer. Use all the tools available to you to communicate with your audiences. The information can be printed in a brochure or distributed as an email. It can be put in a newsletter or edited to become a Twitter tweet. It could be posted to Facebook or added to a blog. It could be posted on a website. It can printed and passed out at the front calendar or at a tradeshow. You need to consistently think of ways to get the information to the customer and do it.
Organize the delivery. Schedule when and how information will be released to customers and prospects for an entire year. If it isn’t scheduled, then it probably won’t get done. An editorial calendar helps you be consistent. People will begin to expect you to teach them on an ongoing basis. You’ll start to gain trust after they receive several educational communications. Once you start, you want to make sure a system is in place so it won’t stop.
Repurpose and reuse. Too many printers say they run out of information and can’t maintain the pace. The same information can be repurposed and disseminated to customers through the variety of communication tools available to you. Your customers will need to be exposed to the information numerous times before it starts to have an impact.
Get it to the right place. You must capture names, addresses, and email addresses of customers and contacts. Email addresses are just as important as telephone numbers. A good selling activity is to telephone everyone on your mailing list and ask the customer to verify the information you have so you know you are sending to the right place.
Use video. Youtube isn’t just for cute kitten videos. A video recording can demonstrate how to perform a task or spotlight a new service. You can use video on your websites and in your emails. Create a Youtube channel with two- to four-minute videos that teach your customer everything they need to know about buying printing. Let the customers know the videos are there.
Train your staff. Don’t forget that your staff needs to understand the same information you want to teach your customers. Nothing undermines a customer education program as employees not knowing how to answer a question about something has been covered.
Use your website. Make sure you have a Resources or Education tab on the front page of your website. You can post longer white papers or detailed charts and guides that the customer can download. You can also post links to your videos and to other online information your customer can use. Past issues of your company newsletters and blogs can be archived on your website and help you build a digital library of information.
Deliver information face-to-face. Whether it is speaking to a local chamber or civic group or offering “Lunch and Learn” sessions at your location for key customers, the same information you are delivering printed and online can be used in an educational presentation.
If you want better customers, it is up to you to train them. An educated customer is a happy customer who has higher expectations and appreciates the products and services you deliver. An investment in customer education can add value to your service and help you keep and grow customers.
John Giles is a consultant and the technology director for CPrint® International (www.cprint.com). He is the author of 12 Secrets for Digital Success and The DTP PriceList. He can be reached at 954-224-1942 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find John on Twitter.com at @JohnG247 and Linkedin.com. His blogs can be found at http://johngilesiii.blogspot.com/ and at www.MyPRINTResource.com. To order John’s books, visit www.crouser.com.