Five minutes after meeting Carol Heibel, you’re talking to her like she’s one of your oldest friends. Maybe that’s why Lands’ End customers have enjoyed talking to her for over twenty years now. She’s real. And she’s not reading from a script.
Carol remembers her first day, and even her very first call: “Everybody in the row was looking at me, the newbie, wondering how I’d do. But the person on the other end didn’t know it was my first day.”
She was a natural on the phones, because she’s always been friendly and ready to help. That’s the way people are in Dodgeville, and it’s one of the reasons Gary Comer moved his little business here from Chicago, back in the 1970’s.
“We don’t have the pressures people do in the big city,” says Carol, “so we’re more relaxed. We take all the time we need to with people. Even the air is different in Dodgeville.”
Customers feel so comfortable with Carol, sometimes they surprise her.
“One of the strangest things is the people that want you to talk to their animals. Usually it’s their dog. But one time, I was talking to a lady and I could hear her bird chirping away in the background. Finally she said, ‘Would you say hello to my bird?’ I said yes, and she put the bird on. I said hello, and the bird said hello back!”
Another time a customer in California asked Carol to call him a cab: “I said I can do it, but it’ll take four or five days to get there.”
These days Carol is a “home agent,” working the 2 AM-10 AM shift in her home, kept company by her old dog Cujo. (Only 30 pounds, so not the Stephen King version.) She likes the hours.
Carol’s job today is more complicated today than it used to be. “When I first started, it was pretty simple,” she says. “Customers were just calling to place an order. But nowadays, they could be asking a hundred different questions. Like they might ask, ‘What happened to that white shirt I saw in your catalog, four years ago?’ We have to track down the answer.”
People are in more of a hurry these days too, so while Carol is still as friendly as ever, she’s always very efficient in the way she takes care of her customers. After 24 years, even though every phone call is different, there isn’t much she hasn’t dealt with.
But she takes it all in stride. “I just love talking to people,” says Carol. Always have, always will.”
We’re grateful she’s part of our crew.
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