Printbuyers Online

Eliminating communication problems
Q: As a print buyer, is there a step I can take to eliminate communication problems?

A. While a decade or two ago, equipment problems, inferior materials, or operator error were the common causes of unsatisfactory product, in 2001, spoilage is frequently the result of poor communication of job specifications and buyer expectations. Here are the steps you can take to help ensure that your printing will conform to your needs and expectations:

1. NEVER use the word "quality." It's nebulous and meaningless. Instead, explain in detail the elements of the job that are important and critical.

2. Unfortunately, there are occasions in which it is necessary to communicate job specifications verbally. Several years ago, the graphic arts consulting firm, Gorelick and Associates, Inc., monitored 100 instances in which a print buyer verbally communicated specs to a salesperson, estimator, or customer service representative. In every case, the recipient was asked to read back his or her understanding of the specifications. In 91% of the cases, there was an omission, ambiguity, or misunderstanding that could have incurred extra charges or, at the very least, resulted in a dispute, straining the buyer-seller relationship. The moral of this story: though you may desire to expedite an estimate or move a job into production rapidly, NEVER provide verbal specifications without asking the supplier to repeat the specs to you.

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