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  • Customer correspondence in Production industry

    We are adjusting our process but wanted to ask anyone who works in a production setting how you handle correspondence with customers as an artist?

    We have a system in which the artists e-mails the proof directly to the customer and then can give changes needed (we use Desk for anyone familiar with this agent), so it's easy to assign an e-mail back to the service team for service related questions and needs. The benefit is the artist is able to work directly with the customer for changes that might be confusing and saves time for our service reps. However, the downside we've found is the time it adds to the artists plate (keeping track of changes, especially when the customer wants to add another product, needs pricing, does not have much direction for what they want). We've been discussing what the best option is, and have been testing out having our service reps who work with special accounts doing *all* correspondence between the artist and customer, which has been pretty smooth and saves us time.

    I guess I'm just curious what others have done or what their process is in regards to this? This is my first job out of college so I didn't know any difference, but a few colleagues said they did not think it was normal compared to other companies and always thought it was strange we did it this way. I personally enjoy the relationship I'm able to have with customers, but also see the benefit logistically of not having that.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I work in the newspaper industry. Ad design, page layout, composition, etc.

    Every newspaper I have ever worked for, big to small has always had ad reps. Ad reps stand between you and the customer and are responsible for giving you the materials you need from the customer.

    Larger outfits, such as a paper owned by Gannet where I worked my first job in the industry have Ad Coordinators. It is the Ad Coordinators job to do all the grunt work. Emailing the customer, taking corrections, providing proofs and tracking accounts. All stuff an ad rep is capable of but the Ad Coordinator removes that managerial aspect from them so they can focus on selling. The Ad Coordinator thus stands between the ad reps and the designers/compositors. The designers give the Ad Coordinator the proofs based on what they get from the Coordinator (based on what the rep has given THEM from the customer).

    But the Ad Coordinator position isn't justified unless you have a lot of reps with a lot of customers.

    In both cases there are insulating layers between the designers/compositors and the Coordinator/reps. It requires that both reps and coordinator have at least SOME knowledge of what the designer/compositor does or needs. A lot of issues can be dealt with right up front if the rep or coordinator is aware.

    This leaves the designer/compositor free to deal with design and layout of the materials. Considering that a lot of designers/compositors are not customer-friendly this can be an ideal situation and is one of the reasons newspapers do it.

    Quite frankly, I'd have quit a long time ago if I had to deal directly with customers all the time. The requirements to be friendly, positive and cheerful to some customers is just too much. Thankully I don't have to deal with too many of them.

    Most of the customers I have dealt with have been because they finally got fed up with the Ad rep and wanted to relate things directly to me. Considering some of the ad reps I've worked with this is entirely understandable. One of the current reps I work with hasn't learned a damn thing about what I do in the 13 years I've been with this company because she doesn't care. Knowing a little bit of what I do does not make her any money and money is the only thing that drives her. She'll throw me or the customer under the bus to make comission. You have to be careful with some of the reps you work with is why I bring that up. They aren't all there to help you or the customer.

    In any case, this is how it works in the newspaper industry. Hopefully something may have helped you.
    Erik Youngren Pueblo Publishers, Composing Manager
    2.8Ghz Quad Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro | InDesign CS4 | Suitcase Fusion 5

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    • #3
      A lot of mid-sized places have sales reps, then the next tier down is Customer service reps or Project managers. The second tier is what handles all the work while the sales reps go out and sell. Saves the hassle of the design techs having to deal with clueless sales reps while not having to deal directly with clients.

      Considering that a lot of designers/compositors are not customer-friendly...
      Yep.

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      • #4
        Well, I don't know specifically what industry you're in, but most mid-sized and larger ad agencies have a person or two between the designer and the client. For example, the account representative (goes by different names at different agencies) typically deals directly with the client and helps strategize, from the larger perspective, possible directions for accomplishing client objectives.

        That bigger-picture view might only include graphic design on a case-by-case basis and might, instead, focus on alternative marketing tactics, like radio, social media, events, native ads, etc. Even when graphic design is involved, there's typically the account rep, the creative director, and an art director between the client and the designer.

        Designers and art directors (depending on their personalities) are often introduced to the client only when they have mock-ups (comps) to show, and even then it's under careful supervision since designers are hired for their design ability and not their winning personalities and sales abilities.

        A downside to having account/ad reps handle everything with clients (especially those directly selling or working on commission) is they sometimes promise things that can't be reasonably delivered. Other times, in their eagerness to please clients, they'll give into bad client ideas for short-term gains at the expense of longer-term success.

        The better agencies, though, tend to screen these kinds of people out during the job interviews and hire people, instead, who have a broader view than just making a quick buck. I've worked at newspapers too, and it's a bit different in that the ad reps are mostly just trying to sell, sell, sell instead of spending most of their time fostering solid, longer-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Every niche and company in this business is a little different from the next, though.
        Last edited by B; 10-06-2017, 12:40 PM. Reason: Typo fixes

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        • #5
          Originally posted by B View Post
          The downside to having account/ad reps handle everything with clients (especially those directly selling or working on commission) is they sometimes promise things that can't be reasonably delivered. Other times, in their eagerness to please clients, they'll give into bad client ideas for short-term gains at the expense of longer-term success.
          This is the problem I have with one of our ad reps. She cannot tell the customer "no" because she fears they will not run their ad. Which means she loses her commission. Since it's all about money for her she'll tell them anything she thinks they want to hear and then expect ME to deliver on it.

          Our other ad rep is the same way except with deadlines. She refuses to tell a customer no when they submit an ad past deadline. And the boss says nothing because it means money.

          Yet I am expected to meet my deadlines every week because if I don't the boss loses money.

          Unfortunately, just the way it is.
          Erik Youngren Pueblo Publishers, Composing Manager
          2.8Ghz Quad Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro | InDesign CS4 | Suitcase Fusion 5

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