Developing the Right Mix of Client Care

Will Morgan
Apr 22, 2019

Consumers’ shifting expectations are increasing the demand for relevant and personalized communications. As a result, it is becoming ever more vital for print service providers to offer their clients the tools and expertise they need to compete on the print and mail battleground as well as the expanding digital landscape. The customer experience is a metric that is just as important for serving consumers as it is serving the enterprises that are working to capture and keep their business. Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends (InfoTrends) recently surveyed 24 mid-tier print service providers to learn about the professionals who make up their client care teams, how accounts are assigned to them, the roles they perform, and how much time they spend serving clients today in relation to two years ago. Our results point to a distinct evolution in communication practices and a general agreement about the importance of enterprise client care.

On average, the mid-tier print service providers we surveyed employ between 4 and 5 customer service representatives, as well as between 3 and 4 sales representatives, account managers, and production/project managers. While sales representatives most often focus on certain industry verticals, other client care employees are usually assigned to their contracts based on the complexity of the account. When respondents were asked how much time they spent with various accounts, 57% spent more time on their most profitable accounts than they did on their least profitable. Meanwhile, nearly a third (29%) spent the same amount of time on all accounts and 14% dedicated the most time to their least profitable accounts. Among all respondents, the average ratio of time spent on the most profitable account versus the least profitable was 3.7 to 1.5.

As would be expected, all of the organizations that we surveyed had sales representatives on staff. On the other hand, at least one of our respondents did not have any customer service representatives, account managers, or production/product managers. This survey also questioned respondents about the client care personnel that performed specific tasks and how much time was spent on these assignments now in relation to two years ago. The Table below details the findings and provides some directional insight on these professionals’ expanding duties.

Printer Customer Communication Process Table

Some top-level findings include:

  • Survey respondents most commonly assigned order entry, client contact, and production management to customer service representatives.
  • Sales representatives were most often tasked with onboarding clients, prospecting for new business, and upselling products or services.
  • Surprisingly, project management and daily production oversight was almost evenly split between production/project managers and customer service representatives.
  • Account managers were also assigned all these tasks, but to a lesser degree than those in other positions.

One of the most interesting findings from our survey results is that sales reps can prove vital to a business in more ways than one. Respondents reported that their sales personnel performed the greatest number of tasks and also filled the most clearly defined roles.

When it comes to creating the ideal sales team, one of the first steps toward success is hiring strategically with your organization’s long-term goals in mind. A positive office culture, executive access, and competitive compensation packages can help you retain strong performers. Furthermore, these tactics can also properly align the investments that will make these consummate professionals the core of your customer care contingent. At the same time, however, previous InfoTrends surveys have shown that few sales representatives regularly meet their quotas. This might indicate employee underperformance or overzealous growth expectations, but it certainly underscores the importance of regularly re-examining your sales targets.

Additionally, cross-training can be an ideal way to maximize the capabilities of current staff members while also creating opportunities for career advancement and professional enrichment. This can in turn foster job satisfaction while encouraging loyalty. According to InfoTrends’ research, client service representatives perform a number of roles. Nearly 50% of respondents reported tasking them with product management and daily project oversight. If your budget is tight, it might be a good idea to expand your representatives’ training rather than hiring separate production/project managers. Similarly, although account managers do not take on a primary role in any of the specified tasks, they are assigned a wide array of jobs. Since these account managers are expected to perform such a broad range of duties, they might prove to be the most versatile members of your client care team.

On the whole, the providers that participated in our survey seemed to share a similar philosophy in terms of their client care teams. In addition, many have undergone similar changes over the past two years. In areas where employees are spending more time on assignments, this is generally attributed to the increasing sophistication of business offerings and the volume they have gained by winning new clients. The length of service calls provides a good example. Although the majority of respondents reported that the length of their service calls had remained largely unchanged, call lengths did vary widely from one participant to the next, ranging from five-minute check-ins to multiple contacts totaling a few hours. Over a quarter of respondents stated that their service calls had increased in duration over the past two years, largely due to the increasing complexity of their services, product offerings, and postal rules.

The customer communications landscape is becoming more complex, and this trend is only expected to accelerate as time goes on. Moving forward, InfoTrends will continue to track how print service providers are adapting to today’s ever-expanding number of channels as well as the challenges their clients face in delivering data-rich, personalized content across them.

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