What matters most, matters least

By Joe Truncale
In April 2, 2013

Since 1993, when eKG Research was developed and launched by Dallas Dort, this method of determining the overall competitiveness of printing and graphic communications companies has been completed by thousands of print buyers, media specifiers, designers and other customers. Since we ask participants to rate the importance of each item on the survey, some interesting patterns have emerged. For example  when we ask customers what matters most to them in their experience with printers, their answers have not changed very much in more than 20 years of surveys. Nearly every time, they rate “quality of the product” and “on time delivery” as the top two items most important to them (and yes, we do ask about price!). While price is always rated in the top five of importance, it is almost never rated one or two.

What does this mean? Well, a couple of things. First, although customers rate “quality of the product” and “on time delivery” as the two most important items to them, doing these things well, while necessary, will not get you traction in the marketplace. They are, as mathematicians would say “necessary, but not sufficient”. As important as they are, they are merely table stakes. Doing them consistently well will not help you get new customers. Not doing them well will help you lose customers. Peter Senge, author of the groundbreaking book “The Fifth Discipline” calls these “hygene factors”. In other words, you would not recommend a restaurant to a friend and tell them how clean it is. You might advise them to stay away if is wasn’t.

The importance of price has also not changed much in twenty years of surveying. So what has changed? What customers want, need and expect from their sales representative. More about that next time.

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