2020 CSR All-Stars: Jessica Defilpo, Barker Specialty Company
Barker Specialty Company, Cheshire, Conn.
It’s every company’s nightmare: Production hiccups, shipment delays and low stock supplies threaten to jeopardize the customer experience. Sometimes, there is no way around it, but thanks to ready and able employees like Jessica Defilpo, there are ways to correct it. The account coordinator for Barker Specialty Company recalled an incident where a decorator did not receive the correct sizes needed to complete an apparel job. While others may throw up their hands, these are the situations where Defilpo thrives. She jumped in and coordinated the details, ensuring the decorator was well-equipped for the task. The deadline was met without her account executive or customer having to worry about a thing.
A described “team player,” Defilpo has been known to arrive at the office early, stay late and even work weekends to ensure appropriate timelines are followed to meet in-hands dates.
“She’s known to jump into the warehouse, when they are inundated with shipments and need an extra set of hands to help process and ship orders,” according to her nominator. “She’s also quick to support her sales team when they are buried by sending follow-up emails and sharing virtual proofs directly with clients. ... Additionally, Jess has personally gone to pick up and deliver local orders when time is of the essence and she knows the client is in dire need of their delivery for a special event.”
With only two years of industry experience behind her, Defilpo is no stranger to customer service, having served at restaurants, worked with clients and their dogs, assisted the elderly and even driven school buses, to name some examples. Prior to joining the world of promo, she was a senior bilingual customer service representative for a company that sold event tickets. During her time in that role, she promoted company-sponsored events, particularly UConn games—an experience she credits with giving her insight on branding and promoting, and how they relate to specific events.
“When I heard about the position being available in Barker Specialty, I was genuinely excited, and once I was hired, I was eager to get my feet planted in the industry,” said Defilpo, who works directly with five account executives, each with approximately 100 to 200 clients of their own.
Her Approach to Customer Service
My approach to customer service is being the one behind the scene making sure it all works out in the end—whether it’s catching a problem before it becomes an avalanche or making last-minute changes per our client’s request. Each day is different, and it’s hard to know what your workload will be like, but that’s what makes it exciting—the challenge. It’s handling each case as a puzzle piece, making sure it goes where it needs to go to complete the bigger picture, even if I may not even know what the picture is exactly! My ultimate goal is to make sure our customers are satisfied with what they ordered and that it meets their expectations. Sure, anyone else can do this job, but I take pride in handling all aspects of the field, especially the tough knots I have to untangle sometimes.
How She Keeps Calm and Stays Inspired
As silly as it may seem, sometimes I just pause, take a deep breath in and sigh it out. My supervisor chuckled once when she heard me do a few of those throughout the day. She knew I was having a tough moment, but realized that it was my way of working it out. I also try to reorganize my work area daily, from the sticky notes on my desk, to my emails, and to-do lists. Though they always seem to pile up, every cross off or check mark is one accomplishment achieved—and one less headache.
How COVID-19 Has Changed Her Job
The amount that I communicate to my account executives, fellow account coordinators and clients seems to have increased since the COVID-19 outbreak. Now that we don’t cross paths in the office, I make it a point to reach out to each of my teammates as much as I can. My workdays are also much shorter with reduced hours, yet all the orders I work on are still monitored by my colleague when I’m not on and vice-versa. Though COVID provided another challenge on top of a tense job, it definitely taught me, again, the importance of reaching out for help and working as a team to make sure things get done.
Why She Loves Her Job and the Industry
I love the ability to be creative, even in the position that I’m in. Though I process orders and follow up on them, I am able to provide input on how the decoration on a product looks. One recent example was an order of tumblers the customer brought to our company. They were engraved with a wedding date, but she had to reschedule due to COVID-19. The plan was to cross off the date and add the new one below. When the proof came in, it was just an “X” on top of the date. I suggested crossing off the date with an arrow to make it look cleaner and the customer agreed with the concept. Though it wasn’t a mind-blowing experience, the fact that my advice was considered made me happy to be a part of the project.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
The proudest moment I had was delivering an order to a client. They had ordered and received a plaque with pieces that did not line up. The plaque was needed that same day since they were mounting it on the wall for an event the following day. Rather than trying to coordinate with my account executive on what to do and how to retrieve the plaque to fix it, I went and met up with the client, grabbed the plaque and brought it back to Barker to have it fixed by our awards department. I then drove back out to meet with the client and hand them the plaque. They were happy with how quickly the situation was resolved. The team that I worked with at the time was thrilled that I took initiative, as it was such a time-sensitive case.
Her Best Advice
Be clear when it comes to communicating with your customers and team since it will lead to direct responses, cleaner orders and less troubles down the road. When you, your team and customers are all on the same page, it provides a greater chance of success. That being said, the customer will more likely return and, therefore, your business with them will increase. It goes full circle, but starts with exceptional customer service. Also, it never hurts to ask for help when needed. As much as you can do most things on your own, you still have quite a bit to learn from others in a field that is so large, diverse and ever-changing.
What She Does for Fun
I love exploring new places, especially spots with waterfalls. There’s just something about going on a trail and hearing the rumble of the falls as you get closer. I would have never known there were so many places in Connecticut, as well as the surrounding states that have these hidden gems. Nowadays, I have been working on crafting more, mostly preparing for my wedding. The whole process has been rather interesting during these times, but just like I do with work, I take a deep breath in and a long exhale out!
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.