What about the good customers?

One of my favorite customers strolled in this afternoon with her monthly project. As is usual, she was smiling, happy and just charming to talk with.

“I read your website . . . you know, the poorrichard thing.” she said. “It’s interesting . . .”

“Uh Oh, I’m in big trouble now,” I’m thinking.

“What do you think that customer is going to think . . . you know, the one who called so many times . . . what’s she going to think if she reads that website?”

“Um, maybe she won’t see it?” I replied lamely.

“Or maybe she won’t know it was about her,” suggested my nice customer. “It might actually help her out.”

“Or maybe she won’t see it?” I replied lamely (again).

It got me thinking. Perhaps I was too quick to write about the problem children when the vast majority of our customers are a real pleasure to deal with. We do lots of jobs on a regular basis that just run like clockwork. And there are some customers that are just plain fun.

The one I’m writing about tonight will definitely recognize herself. Her name begins with a B and she works with a distributor based in Macon. B was actually one of the first people I called on before the shop even opened. She was interested, said that her company did a good bit of printing (they do) and that she would give us a try (she did).

B is amazingly organized. She keeps samples of everything. When she reorders a product, she even knows the invoice number and date from the last run. She is meticulous, very clear in her communications, and (thankfully) very forgiving when we screw up. And she laughs. She has a giggle that is infectious and a sense of humor that makes working with her a great joy.

As I recall, we did a couple of small jobs and then there was a business card order. I don’t know what happened with the ink, but it didn’t dry correctly. With a little effort, B was able to smear it with her fingers. I halfheartedly tried a half a dozen excuses: the oil on her hands, she was rubbing them too hard, the relative humidity was high, just leave ’em a couple of days and they’ll dry.

Finally, I took Oscar, my pressman at the time, over to see about the cards. I introduced him as Herr Doktor Oskar von Heidelberg. B played along. Oscar took the cards, rubbed them between his fingers, and came up with Pantone 300 blue ink.

“So, ve’ll have to do zem again.” he said in a horrible South Georgia German accent. We stuck the old cards in a cabinet . . . the ink never did dry.

You don’t have to worry about where you stand with B. If it’s not right, she’ll tell you. A couple of years ago, our pressman was out with surgery and I was left with the presswork. I ran some letterhead for B late one evening and the press was not being cooperative. I thought that I had gone through the job and removed the sheets that were misprinted, but I forgot B’s eye for color. She can spot shade differences that most human beings never notice and has the best eye for layout and balance of any of my customers. In fact, she’s really better than most of the design folks I’ve met.

The next afternoon the phone rang.

“Richard, this letterhead looks like “*/$$%??!!,” said the voice on the other end. “Who printed it?”

I recognized the giggle. “Um, me I guess,” I replied. I’m sure that she could see my face turning red through the phone.

“Think you better try again,” was the response.

She’s never forgotten either. Last year, we were discussing the timetable for a project and I mentioned that Rickie, our lead pressman, was going to be off for a day or two. “You’re not going to try to run the press again.” was blunt statement.

I shook my head sheepishly. “Um, no.”

“Good,” she replied, “that wasn’t a good idea.”

I wish we could clone her. Hope she reads this so she know’s she’s appreciated. Thank you B and K and the rest of our great customers!

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