Cover Story: After Eddie
Many of the women who’ve bought from the catalog for years — and a good portion of them still mail in hand-written orders — rely on the cataloger’s order-takers and customer service reps to solve their problems, and have built up a warm rapport with the company over the years. Like the many ways Smith led by example, Swann and company have continued to make sure they can solve all customers’ problems and special needs. “There’s a palpable sincerity for people and their well-being,” Boyle-Brayfield says.
Tight With Customers
Smith became close to many customers over the years, often talking to them on the phone. “Customers would actually travel here, stop in and ask for him,” Swann says. “If they’d get upset, he’d send them flowers. And we maintain the same kind of relationship with them today.” (According to a current datacard from the company’s list manager, Belardi/Ostroy, the average National Wholesale customer has household income of $40,000.)
For instance, Smith often took the time to handwrite personal letters to customers who encountered problems with orders. Swann continues the tradition. “And they write Lynda back,” McMahan points out. She also calls many customers when they encounter any problems with products or the company in any way. “I call and tell them this is Lynda Smith Swann at National, and I get this dead silence,” Swann says. “They can’t believe I’m calling. My dad taught me to do that.”
Let ’em Vent, Then Help Out
As for unhappy customers, Smith also taught Swann “to keep my mouth shut if they’re screaming about something. Then when they’re finished, I ask what it will take to make them happy,” she explains. “You’re always inclined to interrupt and say, ‘Here’s what happened.’ But my father always reminded me to let them pour out their hearts first.”