The company had a grand total of eight employees at the time that I was there, and my job was to take care of orders, returns, and communication with customers--"customers" being retailers. Many of the retailers that I worked with were on-line and selling on Amazon or eBay, but I also worked with Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Kohl's. Most of my work was done via e-mail or by phone, but the back-end of my work involved processing returns from the retailers, sorting out repairs and resells at discount, and sending defective items back to the manufacturer in China. This process involved working closely with the co-owners of the company to make sure that all proper precautions were being taken to assure that a return was a genuine return and not of an overstock nature.
In the second half of that year Furi promoted me to a sales analytical position, and from there I took on not only the customer management but the sales application of the business. I married the best of operations and sales together to create a more targeted audience for our sales team. By the end of my tenure, with goals in place and many of the customers set on quotas that were met, the company decided to streamline operations and sales even more and moved the customer service and analytical duties to the accounting side of the business. At that point I was considered outsourced, and moved on to looking into opportunities with Grainger.
How did my tenure with Furi help to shape my introduction to Grainger? For starters, much of my knowledge with Furi was in international shipment control and sales, and my first interview with Grainger was for an export coordinator position. Possessing the experience of working with businesses, however (as opposed to working directly with a retail customer), also helped me with getting my foot in the door at Grainger. Working in wholesale or business to business takes a certain amount of finesse over transactional, typical retail--you are often working with business owners, accounts payable representatives, and purchasing agents instead of a customer with less corporate potential. I found my experience at Furi invaluable for this reason, but I was hoping for more growth in balancing the customer experience with the employee experience by going to Grainger.
My contacts at Furi were made aware of me, as I mentioned earlier, by my previous experience in manufacturing of kitchen supply materials, and that experience came from Tilia and VillaWare, two joined companies that worked out of an office in the South of Market (SoMA) district of San Francisco. In my next post I'll explore how I obtained that position and how it contributed to my goals of customer service and employee retention balance.