Andrew Field of PrintingForLess.com – Part 2

Here is part two of the interview with Andrew Field, the CEO of PrintingForLess.com.

In this part of the interview, he talks about the company’s customer service philosophy, how they have tried to improve the printing experience (a great answer), and why the company is located in Montana.

Click “more” to read the interview.


Question 5:
Is your company’s customer service philosophy modeled after any particular company?
Answer: It really isn’t. We have sort of developed it ourselves. Obviously, I’ve read about Southwest Airlines and we try to incorporate the fun that they have incorporated throughout the history of their company. Nordstrom’s extreme customer service, bend over backwards for the customer type of philosophy, we obviously admire and have a respect for. There is no one particular company that we try to imitate. In fact, we occasionally have customers come up to us to describe how we provide the customer experience and service that we do. We hope down the road to be able to offer regular seminars and classes to our small business customers on providing great customer service. How to hire for it, how to train for it, how to reward for it.

Question 6: How have you tried to improve the experience with printing? What sets you apart from your competitors in that sense?
Answer: There is a number of things.

One of them is the one that I mentioned – when you call here, you are talking to an expert – not a CSR in Jamaica or something like that.

Another is that we accept the broadest array of file types of anybody in the industry, still to date. Traditionally, printers want Macintosh Quark files or Macintosh Adobe files or something like that and they turn their nose up at Word and Publisher files. We will take virtually any type of file and obviously, from a manufacturing standpoint, that makes it a lot harder when you have widely variable input. But we decided we’ll take the burden of having to figure out how to deal with all these different files onto ourselves, because it is easier for the customer. That is a pretty big set apart.

The next thing we do is we let the customer decide and pick when they are going to receive their order. Unlike many printers who sort of negotiate with you (do you really need it by Monday? Tuesday works) – you just pick the date you want and that’s when you get it by. There are some charges associated with the very rushed jobs and that sort of thing, but we put the customer in control of that right at the time of their first approval. They are served up a calendar – they are shown the default and are allowed to mess around and find the best combination of pricing and faster shipping and faster production speed. That’s a pretty big deal – I’m not aware of anyone really doing that.

Another thing is we have is the industry’s first (and I believe only) 100% satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason, you are unhappy, we will either print your job again or give you your money back. With most printers, if the customer approves the proof and the printing matches the proof (even if the proof has a mistake in it), the printers push that mistake back onto the customer.

We take the attitude that just because we manage to sneak our mistakes past the customer in the proofing process doesn’t mean that the customer should own it. That is almost like a representative example of what our philosophy is. There are a lot of little things like that.

Another thing we try to do is pro-actively help the customer get a print project that is going to meet their needs and look great. For instance, if they prepare a digital file and happen to have their monitor turned up excessively bright like a lot of people do, and we get the file and can tell that based on our calibrations and so on, that the image is going to be too dark, that the sky is going to be purple, the flesh tones will look lobster like, etc. – we will call the customer up and ask if they would like us to fix the files for them so that they will get a better print job. We will almost always do that for free. Pro-actively offering to proof the files that are the beginning point of the job is another example of what sets us apart.

I guess one more is that our volume is pretty high at this stage. That allows us to have some efficiencies of scale. So the fact that we offer the high quality we do at the great prices we do, is pretty important.

Question 7: Why Livingston, Montana?
Answer: It’s beautiful. It’s the great outdoors. It’s where I happen to live when we had the idea of starting the company. I haven’t found a compelling reason yet to move.

We’ve also found that Montana attracts a certain type of people either to stay here or to come here. They are people who value quality of life – we have no air pollution, almost no crime, no traffic, wide open spaces, great vistas, educational opportunities, hunting, skiing, fishing, and snowboarding. A couple of employees went to take a break the other day and they grabbed a couple of sleds and took a couple of runs down the hill outside our building and then came back in (we had a foot of snow last night and it’s still coming down (note: this was in February or so).

We also find that people who live here want their job not just as a funding mechanism for their real lifestyle, but they actually want their employee situation to be a vital component of their lifestyle. They want work that is meaningful and engaging and rewarding, and to me, when you talk about customer service, we can have a philosophy or standards or procedures that we use, but if we don’t have great people in place, it’s all for nothing.

It seems that Montana has great people.