Delighting Your Customers 8 Tips for Making Your Company Stand
4. Centralize operations. A good working relationship between print and mail is essential. Many companies—even those who have in-house production facilities—have found that keeping printing and mailing operations closely aligned offers more productivity, better responsiveness and increased flexibility.
5. Is it a genuine e-storefront or just a prop? As e-fulfillment grows, the math certainly looks good: Print, postage, lettershop and inventory management costs can be decreased. But if the back end to your Web storefront is more like a Hollywood western stage set—all facade and no supporting operations behind it—your customers and prospects will quickly vanish.
Addressing the fulfillment challenges of smaller "e-tailers," InfoWorld's Dylan Tweney recently wrote, "Fulfillment is where the rubber meets the road. Mess this up and you won't be in business very long … Smaller companies that can't afford a [fulfillment] infrastructure need to look elsewhere for fulfillment."
6. Document and standardize. Quality improvement is a continuous process. Having a yardstick against which to measure fulfillment accuracy enables you to implement change by tracing errors to their source.
7. Don't run systems and equipment to failure. From computer systems to presses to material handling, focus on preventive maintenance rather than quick fixes. If these are outsourced operations, how will your vendor handle equipment and technology downtime?
8. Commit to the finer points of tactical implementation. Paying attention to detail can be monumentally exhausting but so is troubleshooting later on. Every hour spent confirming that the database is orderly, for example, will save days of downtime and troubleshooting when it's least affordable.
Curt A. Byerley is the president of Harte-Hanks/PMSI (Printing Management Systems Inc.) in Bellmawr, NJ. He can be reached at (609) 933-3000.