kinko’s, underperforming, and frustration

I tried to read blogs for a bit and calm down before I wrote this post. Too bad, didn’t work.

Kinko’s just messed up. A lot. You could call it a training problem, which it is, but the result is that we are putting too much time into a simple task.

We want business cards for when myself and Jade go to the awards banquet for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies this thursday. (No, we don’t know where we are ranked yet, and yes, I will tell you on friday.) I went last friday to Kinko’s, and placed the order. The guy who took my order seemed to know what he was talking about, and we arranged for me to see the proofs on Monday. So far so good.

Monday comes. I realize that I would rather my title be Client Services than Marketing Strategist (perhaps I will blog later on the power of titles) so I call up Kinko’s, and they make the change. So I will go in to see proofs today.

I realize this morning that I wanted to make another change, so I drive over there so I know that, with this last change, the cards are perfect and ready for the volume run of 100 each. The assistant manager is manning the desk, and he helps me.

The short version: the guy who originally took my order has no clue how the system works. The project had gotten stalled in India (where they outsource document creation) because the work order was not clear. And so the project had been put on hold.

Do they have my phone number? Yes. Do they call me? No.

And the project sits. Until I walk in because I wanted to change something, and the manager figures out that the project is hosed.

So now tomorrow we will have one of our designers work on it. A good use of her time? Hell no. She can design beautiful websites and code them into HTML. And tomorrow, albeit for less than an hour, she will be making business cards.

Because Kinko’s is not quite up to the task.

So I am still highly frustrated, bordering on angry, but let’s talk about how you and me can avoid doing the same thing.

First, being in communication with clients is crucial. Is the project on time? Great, call and tell them. I would have no problem with Kinko’s calling me yesterday just to say “hey Brian, just wanted to tell you that the project is going smoothly and you can expect your cards to be ready Wednesday at noon.” So talk to your clients. So simple, but so powerful.

Second, if something goes wrong, call and tell them. Doesn’t have to be right away- take a few minutes to figure out a solution, and then call and tell them that you can’t make the deadline, or whatever, and here is how you are going to solve the problem. Remember to make no excuses.

An example of this is me telling Ian (the boss) that there were problems with the business cards getting printed. I waited to go in and vent about general business stupidity until we had scheduled the time for them to get done and everything was as solved as it could be. So when asked a question about how I was going to fix it, I could say, I have it under control, it will be fine. Now, if you are talking to clients, better to give them a bit more information, if it is relevant to them.

Thirdly, don’t screw up in the first place. It is so much easier to not make a mistake than to make a customer happy again. In the big picture, this is not even a really big problem- no clients got mad, no one got hurt- just a bit of extra work. But I am still mad enough to blog about it and grumble a lot.

I will use Kinko’s again if I need something done right away. But continual good service forever will not lead to me trusting them again.

Your clients may have shorter memories. Don’t count on it.

5 Responses to “kinko’s, underperforming, and frustration”

  1. 1 Kimberly October 18, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Well, don’t get me started on the ‘outsourcing’ issue and all that …. The job is stuck in India…. Geesh!

    The problem with Kinko’s and others of their size is they work on the ‘volume theory’ losing a customer is not as big a deal to them ‘there’s always another one’. One of the largest tragedy’s in our recent past has been forgeting the ‘service’ in ‘customer service’. All too often I encounter the excuses or even worse the somehow it’s ‘my fault’ (the customer) attitude…. (another rant for another time) ….

    Remember the bumper sticker ‘think globaly shop locally’? My advice? Whenever possible use locally owned and operated vendors. Not only does that support the local economy BUT my experience is that you’ll get better ‘service’. Small business owners tend to be more connected to the concept that EVERY customer is important.

    Just as providing good ‘service’ to ‘our clients’ is all about ‘relationship building’ so is working with vendors. My local copy and print shop not only is less expensive than Kinko’s, their turn around (unless you need something at 2am) is just as quick if not quicker, they know me and my needs, proofs are sent via PDF to me, and if anything ever does go wrong it never becomes about pointing fingers or making excuses it’s just about solving the problem.

    The added benefit is we have a ‘relationship’. We truly care about each other’s success.

  2. 2 brianatportent October 18, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    The local shop I called before Kinko’s said 7-10 days for business cards. Kinko’s said 2 days. We will look for a local print shop when we have the time, but Kinko’s is right there, and we know they will probably do an adequate job….

  3. 3 Linda October 20, 2006 at 4:01 am

    Nana always said you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Gosh…is that what she said? Who wants to catch flies?

    Anyway…I am staying at a Crowne Plaza hotel in San Francisco. I had the worst night sleep last night because the freeway noise was SO bad. I tried the ear plugs they so thoughtfully provided. Turned on the heater even though I did not need heat so that the sound of the fan would help drown out the freeway noise. No dice.

    It got so bad I actually dreamed that when they came to wake me in the morning I realized I had been sleeping on top of the building. They had been out of sleeping rooms and put the extra people on the roof. Our beds were separated by chain link fence. No wonder the freeway noise was so loud. When I asked what they were charging me she said I’d have to call the desk. I called and they said because I had not booked ahead it was only $1,055.

    Then I woke up.

    Today, I shared that story with the staff of the Crowne Plaza. They wasted no time arranging for a different room for me, on another floor and the opposite side of the hotel. They also made staff available to help me move.

    I could have complained to the staff and possibly got another room. Telling the story of my dream was much more effective. We laughed…and they fixed it.

    Sometimes you can’t help but be frustrated and angry. When you can find another way to approach it, do. Can’t say that I can see how that would have helped the Kinko’s debacle but in general it is a good approach when you are the disgruntled customer.

    Will I trust Crowne Plaza again? Yes.

  4. 4 Kinkoid January 4, 2007 at 6:07 am

    Do not get business cards printed at Kinko’s! Take it from someone who works there. We don’t like doing them and the customers don’t like the way they turn out. Spend the extra time and money to have them done by a “printer” not a copy shop.

  1. 1 you only thought you were communicating clearly | a true story « All For You Trackback on October 19, 2006 at 12:32 am

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I'm now blogging about internet marketing at

Red Beard Consulting

At Red Beard Consulting I work on internet marketing primarily for speakers. I also work with Infusionsoft.

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