2021 CSR All-Stars: Tanya Kerwin, William Exline Inc.
William Exline Inc., Cleveland
William Exline is the president of a fourth-generation family business specializing in the manufacture of thread-sewn glued booklets, including passbooks, passports and the company’s own Cardbook Cardholders. But he has a problem — none of his customers want to talk to him. That’s because they love dealing with his office manager, Tanya Kerwin, who Exline describes as a “fast learner, kind and understanding.” It’s arguably the best kind of problem to have.
To be clear, Kerwin doesn’t spend her entire day only helping her boss’s clients. She answers phones, quotes potential orders, types letters to be used for prospect outreach, books incoming orders, proofreads, makes mock-ups of new or changing orders, posts the outgoing mail and handles data entry.
Kerwin never envisioned working in the print industry. She was a stay-at-home parent to her now eight-year-old twin daughters and three-year-old son. During this period, she earned an associate degree in health services administration from Bryant & Stratton College and soon thereafter, she connected with her alma mater’s career services department.
“[The woman there] asked if I would be interested in an office manager position at a printing company for the time being,” Kerwin said. “I told her, ‘Sure, I’ll give it a shot.’ I have never worked in the industry before, but I was willing to try. I fell in love with this company and my co-workers, and here I am nearly three years later.”
Her Approach to Customer Service
I am a kind person in general, so I do my best to keep everyone happy. When we run into complications on an order, or an order is late (rarely), I do my best to explain the situation in detail to keep the customer in the loop and happy.
How She Keeps Calm and Stays Inspired
I keep calm by keeping my customers happy. Of course, I have my bad days, but I just try to remain happy and calm so that my customers remain happy and calm.
How the Pandemic Changed Her Job
My job has changed in many ways since COVID-19. We have drastically slowed down on production, a lot of our customers are getting upset with the price increases, but I just explain that these increases are out of my control. Prices are going up across the board and there is nothing I can do to change that.
What She Learned About Herself in 2020-21
Make time to enjoy life as a whole. I have three young children, [and] I wish they had the childhood I had (no tablets, phones, YouTube). We enjoy the outdoors and love to explore.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
I am proud of the relationships I have built with the customers in this organization. If you spoke with Bill [Exline], he would tell you his customers don’t want to talk to him anymore, they just want to talk with me.
Her Best Advice
Always be polite. Smile when you talk — it makes you sound happy to be at work. Get to know your customers, even if you never meet in person, you feel like you have been friends forever. A lot of customer service is done through email nowadays, [so] do not email using texting lingo and be sure to always reread what you are typing before you send [and] check for mistakes. Be professional.
What She Does for Fun
My family and I love to be outdoors like I said [previously]. We are big campers, and we enjoy floating down the river near our campground.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.