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Why Web to Print May or May Not Enhance Your Value and Customer's Experience

  • Howie Fenton
  • |
  • October 19, 2018

This is the first of a two-part series that talks about the role of Web to print in customer satisfaction and your customer's perception of value. Anyone not offering Web to print should realize that Web to print software can not only increase productivity, reduce manufacturing costs and reduce customer complaints, but it can also enhance or detract from your customer's perception of value or to use the new buzzword, your "customer's experience."

In the latest research from Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends (Winning in an Evolving Print Services Market, 2018) in-plant adoption of Web to print technology has outpaced commercial printers by almost 10 percent. When respondents were asked "Do you use any of the following software products?" 58% of in-plants responded yes compared to 49% of commercial printers.

The problem, however is that just adding Web to print does not guarantee that you will enhance your customer's experience. All too often we see Web to print implementations that reduce customer satisfaction because they don't work well. Among the possible problems are: it is a home-grown system that is difficult and cumbersome to use, it is still in the unopened box, customers may never have been trained how to use it, it lacks critical functionality such as estimates, ordering or file submission, and finally, only a few customers are using it.

In the U.S. Production Software Investment Outlook, (2017), Keypoint Intelligence / InfoTrends reported that 11% of the Web to print owners build their own software. In surveys and focus groups when we ask in-plant customers about their greatest complaints we hear that it lacks an online ordering tool or the overall lack of a user-friendly interface making it difficult for customers to use.

It is important to offer ordering and the ability to send files using the Web to print tool. In an earlier study (In-Plant Benchmarking Study: Operational and Financial Performance (2015) InfoTrends found that only 52% in-plants reported offering ordering and reordering and only 53% of their work came in from through the Web to print portal.

To enhance customer satisfaction, you need to train and encourage customers to use it. Not everyone understands how Web to print can improve the customer's experience because they have spent years training customer service staff to answer questions, provide advice and overcome issues. Those opportunities still exist, but for younger customers they usually prefer researching and ordering themselves.

Managers need to recognize that as their customers change so do their needs. For example, customers that are millennials (people born between 1982 and 2001) are the most tech savvy consumers and often evaluate companies by comparing the ordering experience to the Amazon experience. This fast-growing demographic may not have time or want to talk to customer service- they simply want a price or to reorder.

Additionally, most Web to print solutions eliminate the manual job ticketing process, which is often the root cause of many production mistakes and billing errors. Eliminating these production mistakes and billing errors reduce customer complaints.

Increasingly, customers' perception of value is tied to the availability of online and/or mobile research and ordering capability.

For these customers, their satisfaction is not as tied to a customer service person. For those customers, satisfaction is linked to an online and/or mobile interface. They want to access a web or mobile site, and to easily navigate, browse and research different options. They want the website to be organized by categories much like a department store and a search button that is easy to find that will automatically show them what they are looking for.

As you can see in the Xperience Pyramid (Right) created by Andre Wiringa, the author of the book Reverse the first step in achieving a greater customer experience is mastering your production processes and the second step is operational excellence. Creating an easy to use Web to print experience is essential in achieving operational excellence.

To enhance your customer's experience with a Web to print tool, it should:

  • Be available 24/7/365 for computers, tablets and mobile devices
  • Offer an online research into different pricing and delivery options
  • Allow ordering and reordering with pictures of products
  • Allow file submission through the web to print tool,
  • Be user friendly / easy to use and
  • Include hands on training / support, as well as documentation and help


Are you offering Web to print and doing all that you can to ensure it's used by customers, providing them with a customer experience and value for you?


About the Author

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton is an independent consultant and trusted advisor to in-plant printers. He recommends equipment, best practices and workflow automation tools to streamline operations. To learn more about measuring performance, benchmarking to leaders, and improving your value e-mail Howie@howiefentonconsulting.com

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