2020 CSR All-Stars: Debbie Bostin, Sonic Promos
Director of Production
Sonic Promos, Gaithersburg, Md.
Debbie Bostin is more than a CSR at Sonic Promos, according to her nominator. The distributor’s director of production dabbles in sales, marketing, graphics, fulfillment and finance. Her nominator deemed “miracle worker” and “ass kicker” as more appropriate titles for all she does.
“When there is an overseas holiday, it is Debbie that reminds the sales team to add days to their schedule,” her nominator said. “When there are slowdowns in production or transit, Debbie makes suggestions on how to navigate through [them]. When she has ideas that can help the company on a whole, she makes them—in her special way. And those ideas make the company better.”
Bostin joined Sonic Promos 16 years ago after a stint at a retail store geared toward teens and young adults. Sonic Promos owner Seth Weiner met her ex-husband at a business networking event and mentioned his search for a detail-oriented person to help sell and manage orders. Bostin landed the job although she admits she doesn’t think she even had an official title at first. Since then, she claims to have done every promo job imaginable from sales to customer service to occasionally adding a logo to a virtual. She currently services about 20 to 50 clients with large projects, but her time at Sonic Promos almost came to an end 10 years ago with her move out of Maryland where the company is based. Her nominator credits her for helping the company become cloud-based, which ultimately allowed her to stick with Sonic Promos and work from home. Instead of leaving Sonic, she gave up her sales accounts and moved into her current CSR role.
Her Approach to Customer Service
I am a fixer. I end up making sure things go smoothly and fix problems when they start. I do have the tendency to think I can fix vendors when things are not going right, but I really try to keep [to] what I know best and let them handle what they know best. I really like to make sure that our customers are No. 1 and they get the highest customer service from me and my team—delivery confs and tracking on all orders, acknowledgements when an order is placed. We even track the order on the date when it arrives to the customer, so we don’t have any surprises, and sometimes we do, but we can “fix” the problem before it gets super bad.
How She Keeps Calm and Stays Inspired
I [have worked] remotely [from] home for the last 10 years. In our industry, people think it’s kind of nuts not to be with the salespeople, but my salespeople and I work like a fine-tooth comb. We communicate using Slack and Zoom, and we have been working so long together [that] I usually know what they want or need. So, that being said, I get to start my day slowly. I get out of bed, work for an hour, get all things to everyone and then go for my walk (I have two dogs, so I am home with them). So, that really is my calm. I love working at home—a candle and a cup of coffee are all I need (and if it is really stressful, a glass of red wine cures it all).
How COVID-19 Has Changed Her Job
Really not much has changed for me. The only thing is my significant other is a salesperson, and [it] is a little slow, so he is spending more days at home. [Therefore,] my peace is not always peaceful. And the PPE goods are so much harder than anything I have ever done.
Why She Loves Her Job and the Industry
I love working with so many different vendors, and so many items. [Each] day is different, it is so interesting. Every day I wake up wondering what is in store for me—a [large] overseas order, a locally done order. I guess I just love knowing that every day [brings] something new.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
We have a very large pharmaceutical company as a customer, and I really love dealing with all the cool projects that come down the line from them (e.g., pill containers to shirts for a corporate event). They do awesome things, and we have had to learn to source from China and to deal with shipping to hundreds of foreign countries. They are never easy, but the challenge is always a fun one.
Her Best Advice
Be diligent with all the little things. [For example,] sometimes when someone gives you a name, you think you can remember, but most don’t. I type everything into my notes. The little details end up becoming the important details at the end, so I say stay organized, answering emails timely and keeping on top of all details.
What She Does for Fun
I live on Lake Erie, [which is] not like most lakes. The Great Lakes are like oceans. We love it so much. We are boaters, so from May until about October, you can find us on the lake.
I hope the art of customer service doesn’t leave us. I love talking to people, and so many of my customers say to me, “I’m happy I can call you.” I don’t want customer service people to end—it makes life easier and nicer when you can pick up the phone and have someone help you.
Amanda L. Cole is the editor-in-chief of NonProfit PRO. She was formerly editor-in-chief of special projects for NonProfit PRO's sister publication, Promo Marketing. Contact her at email@example.com.