Contract Account Manager
3M Promotional Markets, North Mankato, Minn.
Karen True-Smith was an elementary education major at Mankato State University 43 years ago when she began working in Echelon Fine Printing’s production area. She then moved into a customer service role and since she loved her job and didn’t see a future in teaching, she opted to stay in the industry. She moved to part-time hours when she had a young child and just made the switch to the promo side a year ago after the division where she worked in management closed.
She now serves about 750 accounts along the East Coast and in Illinois, plus two national key accounts, as a contract account manager. Her nominator complimented her hard work, can-do attitude and ability to resolve issues before they happen. Additionally, her nominator cited a glowing review from a customer service call center director who manages CSRs herself.
“Her words to me were, ‘I’ve managed thousands of reps over the years, and Karen stands out in the top five of those I’ve worked with,’” her nominator said. “She truly is one of those employees that when I ask her to help or leave something in her hands, I don’t give it a second thought because I know it will be not just handled but handled efficiently, effectively and with the customer’s best interest in mind.
Her Approach to Customer Service
I try to find the best outcome for each customer. Every customer has a different situation and is also dealing with a customer that might not fully understand the printing process. I have to be open to whatever the day might bring and to each individual situation.
How She Keeps Calm and Stays Inspired
I really like people. We are all in this together, and if we work together, it all works. It is when we no longer are willing to work with people that things fall apart. Customers are looking to me to find solutions to situations so their customer will be satisfied. In the end, we are all satisfied.
How COVID-19 Has Changed Her Job
Because we have formed relationships with our customers, I now worry about their well-being, both [from a] health and business [perspective]. Because a lot of businesses have struggled during this time, it adds another stress to the situation.
Why She Loves Her Job and the Industry
[I love] working with all kinds of people and learning how to meet their needs, [and] Working with different personalities.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
There have been several situations over the years where the situation was very tense to start with and, by the end, we were all on great terms and ready to move forward. That is when I am always the proudest. Being able to move a bad situation to a positive one.
Her Best Advice
Just stay positive and open. Sometimes when you think there is no solution, one evolves. Talk openly about the struggles so customers have a better understanding why something might not be possible, but then offer another option. Every day is a new day and start fresh.
What She Does for Fun
I spend time with family and friends. The grandkids are a hoot! I love spending time with them. I love canning dill pickles, too.