Catalytic Management Consulting
Accelerating Growth, Driving Performance

Curry Printing Gets Service Right!

As a customer, I can testify to the superior service that we receive from Curry Printing. One of their strengths is that the service is consistently high regardless of the employee we work with, and their production quality demonstrates that their customer focus is through out the entire company. How do they do it? In the following interview Robert Gardner, Customer Service Manager at Curry Printing shares the actions he and Curry have taken to deliver superior service. In short, Curry Printing is a “poster company” for getting service right. They practice all the key service elements Catalytic Management preaches to all our clients:

  • Constancy of focus on the customer through out the entire company
  • Senior management involvement and support
  • Formalized program to capture the "voice of the customer"
  • Consistency of delivery supported by written standards and goals
  • Process improvement
  • Recruiting that includes screening for service dedication
  • On-going training for the entire company
  • Team emphasis reinforced through accountability goals and quarterly team meetings

Bob, how would you describe Curry’s underlying business philosophy?

We treat customers the way we expect to be treated. Sounds obvious, but it’s not easy to always think about things from the customer’s point of view. But we believe that is critical to our business. It doesn’t matter what we think about the finished product—it is all about how the customer perceives the finished deliverables. We offer and stand behind a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee—no job is complete until the customer is satisfied with it. We also believe that our customer relationships should be and are personal and we tell our employees it is important to ask a customer’s name, write it down, ask for spelling and then to use it in the conversation.

Do you have written service standards and goals? Has being an ISO company helped in delivering superior service?

Yes, we have very clear written standard operating procedures. It took a lot of time and effort to create but it has been worth the time invested. The real challenge is keeping it up to date. As the technology changes so do our procedures. We have very specific service goals especially focused on turn around times. Our customer service team has a goal of 24 hours to turn around estimates and the prepress staff has a 48 hour turn around goal for proofs. These two goals are easy to measure but the production standards are a little trickier. The estimated turn around time for production is based on the number of processes involved and we use a grid to determine the estimated time.

The biggest thing ISO certification has done for us is to get us to put all the processes we utilize down on paper and think about them. We were able to identify areas of overlap and cut down on waste in labor, time and consumables. With clearly defined processes we were able to streamline systems and improve what was already working and fix what wasn’t. ISO also gave us the tools to measure and track ourselves.

How do you stay on top of what your customers want and need? How do you know how well you are actually doing?

In the last year, we instituted new tools to measure customer satisfaction—both are random surveys. One is via email. We work with a survey company that takes data from our order entry software and generates an email survey based on the estimate/order to the client. We then receive a report from that company on our performance. In addition to that, our president Tom Gardner randomly selects a few orders each day and we have our administrator, Nina, make a personal follow up call and ask if the customer was happy with the job, with our service and if there is anything we could improve upon. This is one of the best tools we have going—it gets honest feedback while everything is fresh in the mind of the customer and the minds of our staff if we find problems.

Have you just been lucky in recruiting good people or do you do something special in recruiting and hiring new staff?

We know that our people are the key to delivering great service so we are very careful in recruiting. We do personnel testing in the interview process and we ask specific service behavior based questions about how they might handle adverse situations and about their own experiences with service both good and bad. While we still continue to post ads for jobs both in print and on the web, we have had far better results by hiring from within our organization—promoting people who have already demonstrated product knowledge and service commitment. Our best source of great candidates is through our employee referral program. If we have a good employee and he/she is willing to recommend someone, that means that there is a good change the referred person shares the same personal values and will most likely perform at the same level within the organization. It is part of the culture at Curry Printing to treat our employees are we want to be treated—the same way we treat our customers! We are really proud of our staff.

How do you keep the company consistent in performance and focus?

Training is important and in addition to on the job training, we send our staff to programs offered through our trade associations. In addition we conduct daily and quarterly team meetings. We start each day by running our individual and department reports, then managers meet with their team members to review the reports. After the team meetings, we hold a meeting of all the managers to review what each team may need and how we will all work together that day to meet our deliverables goals. In the afternoon we meet again to quickly discuss any delays or problems. And most importantly we talk to our customers through out the day about their specific job and specific expectations. It takes a lot of effort to stay focused on what the customer really wants and then translate that back to the production team to build it and deliver it.

We also conduct quarterly meetings for all employees. These are mandatory meetings for the entire organization. The meetings last about an hour and a half, and we provide dinner. This is an opportunity for team building and to discuss issues seen by management and to share improvement ideas from the whole organization. Customer service is always on the agenda.

In conclusion, how does delivering superior service contribute to your bottom line?

For Curry Printing delivering superior service means the sales person, the CSR, the pressmen, the bindery person, the driver and the owners have to work together with the same goal—to exceed our customer’s expectations. Our vendors even come into play on this question. After 25+ years in business, we have long term relationships with our top 25 clients who make up the core of our business. We honestly believe that growing existing accounts is easier than to be constantly looking for new customers. Superior service builds those long term relationships and transforms new customer into old friends!

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