At Gillco, delivering the best customer service in the business is one of our core values. Janet Villagrana, Customer Service Manager, coaches her team to work together, think strategically and always put customer satisfaction first.
During this challenging time of working remotely, the Customer Service team has been communicating consistently through Microsoft Teams, which has proven to be be a productive tool. Janet encourages a collaborative work environment through virtual team building experiences – some even include food delivery to her team members’ doorsteps!
Learn more about Janet and how she leads the amazing Customer Service team at Gillco.
Give us a little background on yourself! Where are you from? Hobbies? What did you do before Gillco?
I’m originally from Mexico and came to the USA when I was 12 years old (middle school). It was a very difficult time. I didn’t speak the language, and back then, there weren’t many Spanish speaking people around (ok sad memories are coming back, this could be a good therapy session haha). I’m the first and only one who has a college degree in my family. I feel very proud of myself because it wasn’t easy. I had to read text books multiple times to understand the content due to the language barrier, but I did it – whoop whoop!
How long have you been at the company? What does your position at Gillco Ingredients entail? What does a typical day look like for you?
I’ve been working for Gillco for almost 10 years. Before Gillco, I worked in purchasing for a plumbing company in San Diego. I was there for approximately 9 years until the recession hit San Diego and I got laid off. I’ve always been a very positive person, and I knew something better was coming for me. When one door closes, another opens. Then, I found Gillco. When I was hired at Gillco, I started as the Purchasing Assistant. There were only 5 employees in Operations at the time. My work station was a small table – we called it “ The Girls Scout Table” for fun. I had no phone, just a computer. This did not prevent me from always doing my best. In two years, I was promoted to the Purchasing Agent for Gillco. I really enjoyed purchasing ingredients and building strong business relations with our partners. After managing purchasing for approximately 4 years, I was challenged to become manager of the Accounting department as well as Purchasing, and I accepted. I managed both departments for about a year. Then, Gillco surprised me with another challenging change in my career when I was offered the position of Customer Service Manager. And here I am today, managing a great CS team.
Being the Customer Service Manager for Gillco brings tons of responsibility. I’m in charge of Gillco’s overall customer service experience. My daily routine includes responding to more complex questions and concerns that require research or approval. My job includes resolving customer service issues, overseeing department operations, making quick decisions while keeping in mind the best interest of Gillco and customer satisfaction, and a lot more. It is something different every day. I have to have complete understanding of both business practices and customer support to make good decisions. I constantly collaborate with other departments to review and look for opportunities for improvement. I make sure customer service doesn’t stop in the customer service department. It is important for me to ensure all departments support Gillco’s core values when it comes to customer satisfaction.
My theory for providing the best customer service in the industry includes giving attention to team building. It is very important for my team to feel comfortable working together towards the resolution of a problem. I believe good customer service starts with the team that is behind it. If the culture is healthy, other factors such as outstanding customer service and building long-term relationships will happen naturally. Teamwork brings people with different levels of experience together. The better my team is able to work together, the better they are able to provide the best quality customer service possible. Creating a great CS team has been my focus. I have set core values that everyone is expected to adhere to. They always work as a team, help each other, respect each other, and are cross-trained to jump in anywhere they are needed. I empower my team to make good business decisions that lead to customer satisfaction. We train and motivate the team to keep a positive environment that translates to customer satisfaction.
What are some of the challenges for you in this role? What are some of your main initiatives for your team during this time of working remotely?
Some of the challenges in my role is managing the needs of my customers as well as my team and the company. It’s also a challenge to continuously focus on educating/training and motivating the team to consistently deliver excellent customer service. Working remotely during this time has also added some additional challenges to the team. Increasing communication has been a key to our success during this time. Our communication with each other was good in the office, and it is even better now. We are doing the same work, just differently. Expectations are clear and employees are held accountable. With my managing style, I monitor everyone’s performance making sure tasks and responsibilities are completed. Our culture remains the same – praising, recognition, and coaching when needed. Feedback and discussion happens on a regular basis. Being remote shouldn’t feel remote. We communicate face to face on a daily basis. We have lunch meetings where we order food for each team member and have it delivered to their home. I pay close attention to culture building opportunities with fun activities, and my open door policy remains the same during this time.
What is the best part of your role/why do you like working at Gillco?
The best part of my job is to help others succeed. It gives me great satisfaction to see the results of my coaching. Helping someone grow makes me happy. I share my experience and train my team everything I know – I don’t hold anything back. I love working with people. I always wanted to have a job where I could help others, and this is it. When I first took this position, I didn’t realize I was going to have the opportunity to make a difference in others. I love to coach and motivate my team. I encourage them to do the best they can every day.
Gillco has been the job where I have grown the most both professionally, and personally I’m very thankful to work here.