Individual efforts become vital in an environment where team success is critical.
Sara Brown, warranty manager and customer service manager for Telescope Casual Furniture Inc., was named the second ever “Mia Nault Unsung Hero” at the International Casual Furnishings Association’s 2021 award ceremony in Chicago on Sept. 22.
Brown, 27, was nominated by the retailers and connections she’s made over the last 11 years as a friendly voice over the phone, always focused on resolving conflict and answering the issue at hand.
“I got super emotional,” Brown said upon hearing her name as the recipient of the award. “It’s nice to know that they know who I am.”
Telescope CEO Kathy Juckett had high praise for Brown, someone she gave an opportunity to at a rough point in her life.
“This is one person out of a $6.5 billion industry in the United States that got an overwhelming majority of the votes from the companies she services,” Juckett said. “She’s setting an incredible example to the other people in customer service.”
A typical day for Brown is to come into the office in the morning and dissect her “warranties” email inbox before turning on the phones to answer customer service phone calls. Brown said the two categories often go hand-in-hand as she deals with more than 800 stocking retailers and more than 300 non-stocking retailers.
Juckett characterized Brown as “dogmatic,” “persistent” and “damn mighty.”
Marketing manager Kait Warren said she loves giving Brown new experiences when Telescope travels around the country to showcases and conferences.
“She’s done a lot of different things here and she can easily wear a lot of different hats,” Warren said.
Juckett and Warren’s “flawless frontline worker” just thought they were attending another award show before being presented with the award that was soon taken away because the “real one” had shipping issues.
“I didn’t even know I was nominated,” Brown said. “I’m no longer unsung, I just want to be better for everybody.”
Juckett decided to surprise Brown’s boyfriend, a Telescope Production department employee, with a trip to Chicago when Juckett was notified Brown was a finalist for the award.
“There were a lot of times where Sara almost found out but we were able to keep it from her,” Juckett said. “I was more excited for her award than I was for the ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ award!”
The “Mia Nault Unsung Hero Award” is named after a former customer service worker in the casual furniture business who displayed great courage to a stranger whose vehicle was left immobilized on the side of the road when Nault was killed during the assist.
“This award was created to call attention to outstanding customer service representatives at manufacturing companies throughout the casual furnishings industry,” the ICFA said. “Candidates are selected based on their ability to provide exceptional customer service, as well as outstanding communication skills, innovative problem-solving, professionalism and ability to inspire others as brand ambassadors.”
In her spare time, Brown enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and their four cats, fishing and revitalizing old antiques. But when she’s at work, Brown enjoys being with her second family.
“I’m willing to do whatever anyone needs me to do,” Brown said.