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Print partners need to do more

Canon Europe research shines light on customer frustrations with the way they are currently being served by the channel

The coronavirus pandemic has hit many industries hard, leisure and retail key among them, but the usual response from the tech community is to thank their luck for being in a segment that has remained largely unaffected.

That is not quite true, with anyone in the printing world able to point out that closed offices have had a negative impact for those servicing print fleets up and down the country.

As things hopefully start to reopen in the next few months, many customers will be reviewing their office strategies and research from Canon should also give those selling print some pause for thought.

Canon Europe’s latest Insight report, Creating customer value, reveals that less than 20% of print service providers (PSPs) are seen as currently fulfilling customer needs. Concerningly, 80% of customers also feel their partners need to provide more creative input.

The majority want their print partners to be more consultative and to be comfortable combining print with digital.

A lot of the frustration is not the fault of the partner, but largely down to the difficulties that customers have in measuring the effectiveness of their print spending. The request for more digital advice was driven by a desire to make it easier to discover just how effective a print campaign had been.

“What is clear from the research is that while PSPs are getting the basics right, there is a gap between what customers want and what is being delivered,” said Mathew Faulkner, EMEA senior marketing manager for Canon Europe’s Professional Print Business.

“By using each customer interaction as a chance to demonstrate their expertise, PSPs can add value and help brands to maximise the effectiveness of print,” he added. “It is also an opportunity to prove print’s ROI [return on investment] by showing them how it can be used to boost engagement or provoke an action at various stages along the customer journey.”

Canon saw the report as a positive for those print professionals who could step up and offer a more consultative, creative and digital approach. But there was also a warning for those that failed to follow that course of action.

There has been a reaction in the print world to the current circumstances and before the end of last year, print management software player PaperCut issued advice to help guide those users making strategic decisions as they moved into a more hybrid working world.

The firm’s suggestions included using intelligent print management tools to work out which devices have been used over the past couple of years and which might be consolidated.

Customers might also want to review their print policies in the light of the emerging hybrid working world, with the possibility of more flexibility for staff working remotely. Security will also be an issue for those sending print jobs over the internet.

“The impact of Covid meant that realigning strategic, operational and financial goals were centre stage for all organisations in 2020,” said Steve Holmes, EMEA regional director at PaperCut.

A fresh year presented an opportunity to assess the current set-up as well as make plans to accommodate changing work patterns, he said.

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