Huge Missed Opportunity for Personalization

By | January 17, 2011

If ever there were an opportunity to personalize documents, it’s school pictures. Yet I spent this morning bleeding out my eyes because I needed personalization and it wasn’t there.

The story starts with poorly designed print documents and online order site that didn’t match one another. The sample was digitally printed, with my order number and customer pin printed underneath the picture of my daughter. Across the top was text inviting me to the website to order additional prints. Yet once I logged in, there was no place to enter the order number, pin, or access her picture. When I clicked the FAQ and “help” links, they took me to answers about tracking orders but nothing about how to place an order in the first place.

So much for the ability of this digital print shop to upsell me with personalized mugs, calendars, and photo books using their e-commerce solution. Huge lost sales opportunity there.

So I went back to the print materials. The sample print had the order number and pin, but it was not accompanied by an actual order form for the pictures. There was some kind of order form, but after further examination, it was for an entirely different type of product.

I finally located the order form printed on the backside of the large window envelope. It was hidden from view, static printed, and clearly ordered in bulk to be as cheap as possible. By the time I cut out the form (after having to turn the packet inside out and extricate it from the folds), I was so frustrated that I forgot where my order number and pin number were located.

There I was, staring at a blank order form from this digital photobook printer, thinking, “Why isn’t this form personalized? What on earth is wrong with these people?”

This should have been a high-margin sale. The printer had already included a sample print with my daughter’s picture on it, her name, the order number, and the pin. I should have opened the packet, pulled out a pre-filled order form, along with pictures of the high-margin upsells the company would have loved to sell me (preferably with my daughter’s picture already imposed upon them). Instead, I wasted nearly 40 minutes looking on the website, sorting through papers, and then filling out a blank order form with information the company already had. By the time I was done, I was so irritated that I placed the smallest order I could get away with just to be done with the whole business.

So if you’re printing any type of form for your clients, be the hero. Pre-filled forms are one of those no-brainer steps that any client sending out forms should be doing. Not only does pre-filling forms decrease the client (or prospect) irritation level, but this simple act of personalization is shown to increase response rates, as well.

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3 thoughts on “Huge Missed Opportunity for Personalization

  1. Chuck

    I don’t know if you noticed the other problem with school photos– they are psychotically expensive. The saving grace might be that these blood sucker companies providing these mediocre products are probably going out of business soon.

    There is a certain amount of guilt associated with not buying the school photo of your beautiful kid year after year, but it’s mitigated greatly by the fact that you have 6,000 pictures of the kid from every day of the year posted in an online photo sharing site. We don’t need the wallet size photo or the keychain for 10 bucks when we have the digital photo frame.

    The school photo and yearbook people are still living in the 1950s.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Nigro Post author

    Psychotically expensive I would agree with! In their defense, I would say that while I have a psychotically voluminous number of digital images of my children, this is the only time I get an official portrait style with the background. Unless I want to go to Sears and pay 10x what I’d pay for the school picture, this is my one opportunity to get a portrait of my child year after year, in the same pose, with the formal background, allowing me to flip through them one by one and watch my child grow before my eyes. There IS a place for school photos still, I think, but I agree, if they don’t move into the 21st century, they might miss the opportunity.

  3. Chuck

    Can’t disagree! I am looking at school photos of two of my kids framed on my desk as I write this. They are right next to the digital photo frame!

    I agree, the professional photography with a nice background is very nice. And kids seem to behave better and give the professional photographer a better smile than when Mom or Dad is taking the picture.

    And I agree with all of your points about the ordering process, it makes no sense!

    I guess where I would land is that this is a business that could stand some real competition, some technological and business model changes, because there are lots of missed opportunities.

    There is no customer delightment going on in this business, the companies providing the service put up a lot of barriers and friction, not the least of which if the price. Great opportunity for disruption.

    Thanks Heidi!

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