2021 CSR All-Stars: Kathy Shultz, Independent Printing Co.
Account Service Representative
Independent Printing Co., De Pere, Wisconsin
Is your client unsure of what they want? Or, might their project benefit from a new direction? If you’ve worked with Kathy Shultz, chances are you’ve admired her ability to anticipate the best course of action for both client and assignment.
“That innate gift of knowing what’s needed before the customer makes [Kathy] the pride of our team, and one of the most often requested reps by our customers,” said her nominator.
Shultz subscribes to the business philosophy of “working smarter, not harder,” which explains why she’s also been tapped to participate in numerous process improvement projects within Independent Printing Co. — a career highlight for the industry veteran.
“She has a unique blend of efficiency that would make a lean manufacturing manager proud, along with consistent and thorough customer care,” Shultz’s nominator added. “Throw in a dash of lively customer banter to keep things light, [and] you’ve got the ideal customer service rep.”
Shultz didn’t always know where her career path would lead, but it didn’t take long for her to figure it out. A teenage Shultz needed an extra elective to fill up her schedule when she stumbled upon a graphic arts class. The attraction was instant. During her senior year of high school, she got a job at a local graphics/print house before relocating to New York to nanny for a family from her hometown. A year later, she returned home and was rehired by her former employer as a press operator, handling darkroom work, plating and stripping.
As Shultz tells it, she expanded on that experience when she moved to Green Bay, Wis. and started at Seaway Printing as a trimmer operator before transitioning into estimating and customer service. Other stops include stints on the distributor side — first, dealing with index tabs; second, with screenprinting and embroidery.
At Independent Printing Co., Shultz relies on her diverse print résumé to get through her “busy” but “fun” days.
“I manage customer projects from cradle to grave — we like to say, ‘until the end-user gives the thumbs up, we’re still on that project,’” she explained. “So, I am spinning several plates in the air at one time: project management, estimating, answering customer questions that come in [by] email or by phone, ideation on a new project or program, troubleshooting issues with customer and internal teammates, and, oh yeah, sometimes I take bathroom breaks!”
Her Approach to Customer Service
Listen to the customer first and foremost — let them explain what they’re looking for. Understand the product they are looking for, as well as what is the intended use. Give the customer the tools they need to succeed: I teach about our products and our process, if needed. Other times, I give data and talking points they can use with their clients. Never say “no.” There is always a way to achieve and succeed, to help find an alternative or direct them to someone who can. Building warm and supportive relationships internally and externally is key.
How She Keeps Calm and Stays Inspired
I approach each day fresh and with an open mind. Patience is my superpower. Many things happen each day, some we have control of and some not much. It [also] is extremely important to take extra steps with all customers to work through things, big or small, just as I would want someone to do with me. [Finally,] I regroup throughout the day and remind myself each day how blessed I am to have a great family who supports me and each other no matter what.
How the Pandemic Changed Her Job
Not much has changed in my job, and I am thankful to work with a great team. Honestly, our entire company really pulls together during any situation, be it COVID-19, a large project or a rush order. While we have downsized when business slowed down, our efficient day-to-day process really has stayed the same.
What She Learned About Herself in 2020-21
I have always been a planner, sometimes almost to a fault! And with the whirlwind of 2020-21, while planning is sometimes needed, I learned that there are times to just let loose and things will come together.
Her Proudest Career Achievement
There have been many positive experiences over the years, but if I had to list one it would be the relationships I have made with many customers and sales reps. I’m proud to support both groups, and enjoy the give and take we have. I also admire my teammates that joined me on improvement events. The print industry has changed over the years, and will forever continue to change. So seamlessly staying ahead of change and adapting [are] important to me, and valuable for our company to continue to provide world-class service to our customers.
Her Best Advice
My best advice to new service reps is pay attention to details, stay organized, make listening your priority, and you’ll truly understand what your customer is asking. Also, be open [and] positive, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t take things personally and, by all means, smile.
What She Does for Fun
I enjoy creating lasting memories — from spending time at home with my husband, our three kids and three grandkids, to camping, playing games and just hanging out. To me, family is everything.