2022 CSR All-Stars: Jennifer Velasquez, Peerless Umbrella
Customer Care Specialist
Peerless Umbrella, Newark, New Jersey
For 16 years, Jennifer Velasquez has given her all to Peerless Umbrella. Her success is unsurprising to anyone who’s worked with her on a project.
“Everyone at Peerless respects Jennifer, not only for her work ethic, but her endlessly positive outlook, her ability to solve complex issues and her innate desire to make sure the customer gets exactly what they want,” her nominator says.
When asked what led her to the promo industry, Velasquez is honest: She had to pay the bills. Velasquez accepted a temporary job in the warehouse at Peerless Umbrella. She was tasked with a bit of everything — from unpacking and packing umbrellas to checking inventory and even managing the electric pallet jack for the shipping department. Management quickly realized there was something special about her. In their mind, Velasquez’s attention to detail and savvy tech skills made her a true asset to the company’s CSRs and sales reps. With that, she moved to the office in a data entry position.
Velasquez thrived. She loved learning more about customers and processing orders, and gradually began to cover for CSRs who were on vacation. In early 2019, Peerless Umbrella needed a CSR to handle the northeast region — one of its largest and most demanding territories. Christina Ehret, customer care manager, believed Velasquez was who they needed. Velasquez proved her right.
That’s not to say the customer care specialist role didn’t come without challenges. Fortunately, because of Velasquez’s grit and determination, they were short-lived.
“At first, it scared me,” Velasquez says. “I was a little insecure because talking on the phone is not my best attribute, but I took it and I am very grateful to [Christina] for thinking of me. I’ve been doing it for three years now and I love my job. I love the territory I manage, the clients are excellent and here at Peerless, I have a family that I love and respect.”
Her Approach to Customer Service
I’m always friendly and kind. I think those are the two most important qualities of a rep. I also listen to the customer’s needs and go a step further to exceed, rather than just meet the expectations.
Her First Instinct When Things Get Complicated
When things get complicated, the first thing I do is evaluate my options and, together, with my manager, look for the most convenient solution for the client. One job that stands out to me is when Dave Wolfe, president of WolfePromo, placed his first mask order with us. The artwork was a challenge. I tried a few alternatives until we got it right. It was his logo on the mask — it had to be perfect. He was really happy with the end result, and emailed my boss, Dan Edge, national sales manager at Peerless, to express a thank-you word about me.
What Pandemic Fallout Has Taught Her
It has taught me to be more patient and provide a better quality of customer service by keeping them informed of delays with reference to the arrival of our products.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
It’s definitely the relationships that I have formed during these years and many special orders that I have helped to complete. But [also] the achievement of overcoming the fear of talking on the phone with clients [and] breaking the language barrier since English is my second language. It was always my fear, but it has been a great achievement to be able to communicate clearly with my clients.
Her Best Advice
I would advise [those new to customer service] to be patient and always use positive language — even with [themselves]. This helps create a sense of well-being during the day. That feeling will radiate to the clients.
What She Does for Fun
I love to spend time with my family and go to the mountains to breathe fresh air.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.