NCET explore business and technology
Every business large and small knows that excellent customer service is a cornerstone of success.
The smart use of technology provides a strong base for excellence in customer service, but anyone who has spent an hour on hold waiting to talk with a real human being knows that technology can destroy a company’s hard-earned reputation for good service.
So how do you balance technology with the warmth of human contact to deliver outstanding customer service?
It’s a question that’s always in the spotlight at Custom Ink, the fast-growing maker of custom-printed T-shirts and other apparel. With 1,700 employees nationwide and 500 employees across two facilities in Reno, Custom Ink works with customers who want a single custom-printed sweatshirt, families that want a couple dozen custom T-shirts for a reunion and big companies that need thousands of embroidered polo shirts.
Custom Ink ensures the availability of real people to help its customers get exactly the right product, exactly the way they want it.
In many ways, Custom Ink is a technology company that just happens to produce custom-designed apparel.
Technology supports every step of the customer experience. The team member — the company calls them “Inkers” — who take the first calls from customers rely on sophisticated software designed by Custom Ink to quickly provide information on pricing and availability. (With a catalog of 1,700 items, each of them customized for each order, quick quotations are a challenge.)
Specialized technology helps customers upload their design on the Custom Ink website, powerful design tools allow Inkers to find the best ways to represent those designs on a T-shirt, sophisticated software manages relationships with more than 1,000 vendors, and manufacturing and logistics software ensures the most-efficient production systems are used to meet Custom Ink’s exacting quality and delivery standards.
And the technology helps deliver the single most important element of any customer-service initiative: A product that exceeds the customer’s expectations.
For all of their accomplishments with technology, the Custom Ink team doesn’t believe that technological solutions by themselves answer the need for superlative customer service. Instead, Custom Ink looks to technology to the things that technology does well, and uses technology in ways that allow human beings to do an even better job.
Software, after all, can save untold amounts of time calculating the price of an order of 100 custom-printed T-shirts. But good customer service comes only when the time saved by technology allows skilled employees to build even better relationships with their customers.
That’s the technology secret of Custom Ink.
Learn more about the powerful ways that Custom Ink uses technology during NCET’s Tech Wednesday event from 5:30- 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 13, at Custom Ink. You can find more information and registration at NCETwed.org.
Dave Archer is President/CEO of NCET, a member-supported non-profit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore businesses and technology.