Supplier Global Resource

Customer Service Rep of the Year - Patty Ceranski, Gemline

In this day and age of blink-and-you-miss-it order inquiries and I-needed-it-yesterday shipping rates, the promotional industry is lucky to have Patty Ceranski.

“Make clients’ lives easier,” says the strategic account representative in Gemline’s inside sales department to her fellow suppliers. “I always try to find a solution to an opportunity. If a distributor asks for pricing, I also ask for an art file so I can provide a virtual. It can seal the deal for both of us.”

>>Customer Service Rep of the Year Runner-Up: Rich Fatone, Garyline

Ceranski should know; she’s been serving promotional clients since 1989, when she started as an inside sales representative for Parker Pen, remaining with them for 20 years. As it transitioned to Gillette and then Sanford Business-to-Business, Ceranski gained experience in both inside and outside sales.

After leaving the industry for a year and a half, the promo bug bit again and she accepted her current job with Gemline. She works with Lands’ End Business Outfitters, as well as about 200 active accounts at AIA and 300 at HALO Branded Solutions.

“Patty always thinks about her customers,” says Jonathan Isaacson, owner of Top 40 supplier Gemline. “It shows in her work ethic, attention to detail and passion for what she does. She’s a team player who does a wonderful job representing the company and always takes great pride in exceeding customer expectations.”

While Ceranski’s daily email count significantly surpasses the number of calls she fields, “it’s not by personal choice,” she says. “For a quick and easy question, like on pricing or inventory, email is fine. But if it’s turning into an idea-generation discussion or it looks like a large opportunity, I pick up the phone.”

Voice-to-voice discussions also give her the opportunity to discuss alternatives if necessary and upsell when possible. This happened recently, when one of her clients came to her with a request from a loyal, long-time customer for 1,500 totes with one of Gemline’s stock designs. But a color revision meant that it became an overseas order, which wouldn’t be shipped in time for the event date. It was a situation that would throw any account representative for a loop, but Ceranski wasn’t ruffled.

“I researched alternative stock and suggested a tote that was an upgrade, but it was on sale, so it brought the price to where it needed to be,” she says. “We shipped a sample to the client to review, they loved it and placed the order, increasing the quantity from 1,500 to 2,700 pieces.”

More often than not in this new age of one-click ordering, the orders that come to Ceranski need to ship fast. To meet the exploding demand for rush orders, Gemline offers its free FastTrack service. But Ceranski also jumps into action to expedite the process. “I always look at inventory first and make sure we have what they need,” she explains. “Rush orders happen all the time now – they’re the new reality. So we have to respond to it because it’s not going away.”

One company that’s been satisfied with Ceranski’s service and gives her effusive praise is Top 40 distributor HALO Branded Solutions. “It’s so refreshing to work with a true professional like Patty,” says Julie Harms, merchandising specialist. “Her passion is evident by the remarkable service she provides. She gives it her all when it comes to educating herself on products, services, meetings and events to provide the most for her clients. She’s gotten to where she is because of her knowledge, top-notch service, attention to detail, caring attitude and strong work ethic. The entire HALO organization respects her very much.”

Sara Lavenduski is the associate editor of SGR, and its sister publications Counselor, Advantages and Wearables.