Since we print wine labels in predominantly short runs, we recognise that we have thousands of small customers rather than a handful of big customers. Quite frankly, that is how I have always done business. Growth is obtained by getting more smaller customers and by convincing those smaller customers to buy again and eventually buy in larger quantities.
It is difficult to know which of these smaller customers is going to turn into long term highly profitable customers so what we do is look after them all equally well in an effort to convince them to buy from us and refer others to our label printing business. The downside of having lots of smaller customers who are less familiar with how label printing works is that you may not be able to please these customers despite your best efforts
Well, this is what happened to us last month. We received a rather typical wine label printing enquiry. We prepared the proof for our customer. It was checked and approved. Even though, we printed the wine labels exactly to her specifications, the customer was not happy. She said that the wine labels do not stand out well enough on her bottles. Our customer was interstate so we did not ever see the wine bottles that these wine labels were to go onto.
Once a written approval is given, you really have the law on your side and you do not need to reprint or refund for something that is the customer’s error. However, we wanted to keep this new customer happy so we offered to refund her the cost of the wine labels or reprint the wine labels in a different and more expensive method but she would need to pay the difference.
While the customer was working out what to do, we also printed some tiny booklets to be part of her order. Our customer sent us indecipherable artwork which needed to be rewritten. We did this and sent a proof to our customer. It was checked and approved. Then when the customer received the tiny booklets, she said she found a spelling error from the artwork we recreated and she approved.
Now, our customer wanted us to reprint the booklets and reprint the wine labels for free in a more expensive method. We declined. We gave this customer her refund on the wine labels and were happy not to hear from her again.
All businesses have problem customers. They reduce your profits and take up more time than the cost of their order justifies. The best thing you can do is cut your losses. Be firm and fair. Give something back to these customers but not everything. Recognise that not all customers are equal. Concentrate on protecting and nurturing your most profitable customers and cull your unprofitable customers.