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The More You Know, The More You Grow with Cherell Maness

Cherelle Maness, a Customer Solutions Manager at Broad River Retail, sits down with Charlie and discusses what drives her forward.

Cherelle Maness, a Customer Solutions Manager at Broad River Retail, sits down with Charlie and shares her tips for thriving both personally and professionally during the pandemic. From a morning meditation routine to focusing on one customer at a time, from becoming adaptable to remaining curious in the learning zone, she offers practical tips for keeping customers happy while personally thriving during the pandemic. Her valuable advice would be useful information for any of today’s knowledge workers, remote workers, and call center agents seeking encouragement and a roadmap to also thrive personally and professionally.

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Visit storiesfromtheriver.com for more episodes.

Stories from the River Podcast explores the personal journeys of Broad River Retail’s very own Memory Makers. Whether it’s interviews or standalone narratives, Stories from the River will bring you closer to what it’s like to thrive inside the company. This show will share personal experiences from stores, distribution centers, call centers, and corporate campuses, giving listeners a front row seat to what it’s really like to be a Memory Maker furnishing life’s best memories every day.

This show is brought to you by Broad River Retail. Visit www.BroadRiverRetail.com.

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FULL TRANSCRIPTION

Charlie:

And welcome to Stories from the River. We’re here with Cherelle Mannus, our Customer Solutions Manager, and Cherelle we were looking for someone who’s got a great story from our Customer Experience department. You were highly recommended in selling. They said: you’ve got to speak with Cherelle. And so I’ve been looking forward to our conversation today. 

Before we get going, can you tell us a little bit about your background and your career prior to coming to the River?

Cherelle:

Sure. Well, of course, like you say that my name is Cherelle. I’m the manager of the Customer Solutions Department. I am a military brat, so I kind of moved around. But I was raised in Pittsburgh and I moved here, really at the beginning of my career. More or less permanently. Prior to working here, I had a collection/customer service job. So that was always entertaining. And that’s pretty much it. 

Charlie:

Okay. 

Cherelle:

It’s me in a nutshell.

Charlie:

So how long have you been with us? 

Cherelle:

It will be eight years on June 4th. 

Charlie:

So eight years. Eight years, and we’ve grown so much throughout that. We’ll talk some about that. So, our organizational purpose, as you know, is Furnishing Life’s Best Memories. So what’s been one of your best memories here at Broad River? 

Cherelle:

One of my best memories here, I would have to say I believe it was 2017 or 2018. We had customer service week, and Miss Lisa, whom I refer to as Momma Lisa, she dressed up as Tina Turner. I cannot get that image out of my head. It was very entertaining and, that I would have to say that is the top thing that I think about.

Charlie:

I remember that outfit. I remember I mean, the surprises that you guys come up with and that Miss Lisa comes up with for customer service week. It’s just unbelievable. If you ever want to come see something really cool, come to Brad River Retail Fourth Mil or for Four Ox and see the call center during customer service week. It is top tier. The time they did Game of Thrones, 

Cherelle:

I remember.

Charlie:

or a 007 last year or Stranger Things. Stranger Things was insane.

Cherelle:

It was insane. The way she decorated everything was amazing. So yeah.

Charlie:

It was like a movie set. 

Cherelle:

It was.

Charlie:

It was very scary. 

Cherelle:

Down to the count.

Charlie:

Stuff was jumping out at you. Okay. So what do you, what are you most proud of thus far in your Broad River career? 

Cherelle:

You know what, the creation of the Customer Solutions Department. We literally, it was ground zero. So from the ground up, from hiring to training to transitioning into Salesforce. So that’s what I’m most proud of.

Charlie:

So, someone who doesn’t know, like, what do you mean by customer solutions?

Cherelle:

Our primary goal is to make sure that we take care of our consumer during that first interaction. So answering any unasked questions, setting the standard at going above and beyond and making sure that when they walk away that they are ultimately 112% satisfied.

Charlie:

You guys just get it done.

Cherelle:

Yeah, we do. Everyday.

Charlie:

And how many people are on your team?

Cherelle:

Nine. 

Charlie:

Wow. That’s awesome. Okay, so you’ve been a Memory Maker now at the River for nearly eight years. What is something that you’ve learned about yourself or about something that you’ve been able to accomplish that surprised even you? 

Cherelle:

You know what, considering that I’m a military brat, I was so used to structure. So learning to be flexible, especially with the past two years, learning how to just adapt and make that next move just as great as the one that you preplanned. So, yeah. 

Charlie:

I think COVID has definitely taught us all about adaptability and flexibility. 

Cherelle:

Yes, yes.

Charlie:

So what do you love about your job? 

Cherelle:

People, I love interacting with people. You learn so much, like people literally are the creators of all things that we love. So just having the opportunity to interact with them and gain new perspectives and just, I’m just a people person, so that pretty much sums it up. 

Charlie:

Well, you’re in the right role for being a people person. But you deal with a lot of customer complaints because you’re trying to solve them. So do you ever grow weary of taking care of customer complaints?

Cherelle:

You know, I’m human, so you have your days, but I have more great days than not so great days. And I always tell my team, don’t take it personal, don’t get hooked, you’ll go fishing. So make sure that you just focus on the issue and create a resolution, and that’s going to turn the experience around. So..

Charlie:

That’s a quotable : Don’t get hooked, say that one more time?

Cherelle:

Do not get hooked, you will go fishing. 

Charlie:

That’s great. So how do you avoid burnout?

Cherelle:

I just make sure, one call at a time. Yeah, I prioritize. And then, that I prioritize focusing solely on one task at a time. Right. So that you will not allow for yourself to get overwhelmed by too many moving parts.

Charlie:

I like that. I like that. Okay. So certainly you have to have one department that you work with the most. Which one do you collaborate with the most?

Cherelle:

Supply chain, Order Management, often.

Charlie:

Especially during the last couple of years.

Cherelle:

Yes, often. Very often. 

Charlie:

So, you know, I’m wondering, you know, given that, have you found that customers have been more understanding during the pandemic or less understanding, what is more easily agitated? 

Cherelle:

More understanding. And they’ll typically lead with that when they reach out for it in order to update, they’ll let us know like, hey, I completely understand that things are outside of your control, just checking in here. So I’m actually very surprised, but I am appreciative of it. 

Charlie:

That’s refreshing to hear. People like, sometimes they hear just the divisiveness in our country. But like, no, actually people are giving people companies grace that they get it. 

Cherelle:

Yes, they get it.

Charlie:

That is great. Advice. What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Cherelle:

The best advice that I have received? You know, I think I’m somewhat repeating myself, but especially here, one call at a time, making sure that you provide that consumer with your undivided attention and practice active listening. So one call at a time. Being patient. 

Charlie:

So, what is active listening?

Cherelle:

Active listening is just using your two ears and zooming in primarily to exactly what it is that that consumer is stating, removing your emotions and focusing solely on the issue or the concern at hand. 

Charlie:

How am I doing with that right now? 

Cherelle:

Pretty good. 

Charlie:

All right. So, let’s say, I’m a new agent starting today. What advice would you give me?

Cherelle:

Be curious. Ask questions from start to finish like from point of sale all the way through supply chain questions, service related. The more you know, the more you’ll grow. 

Charlie:

That’s another good one. The more you know, the more you know, the more you’ll grow.

You have so many of these, I love it.

Okay, so you’ve been with us eight, nearly eight years. If you go back to younger Cherelle, who started on their first day. What would you tell your younger self about what life is going to be like at Broad River Retail?

Cherelle:

I would say life is definitely going to be, it is gonna be fulfilling, but it will be a ride. Buckle up. There are going to be a lot of great changes right from start to finish. So, just being flexible and that’s pretty much it. I think that would be the key thing. Make sure that you’re flexible. 

Charlie:

A lot of changes. Yeah. We don’t sit still.

Cherelle:

No, no. A lot of great, innovate.

Charlie:

Hopefully mostly forward.

Cherelle:

Of course. Of course.

Charlie:

Like Salesforce. 

Cherelle:

Yes. Yes. 

Charlie:

Okay, so let’s talk about what I call these unsung heroes. You know, I know that it always takes a village to achieve phenomenal success like you’ve achieved. And no one does that on their own. Who are some of the unsung heroes or colleagues of your world? And tell us what they do that help you?

Cherelle:

Okay. Primarily, I would have to say Anita Harris, anyone who has had the pleasure of interacting with her, you walk away with a smile. She’s so warm and welcoming and engaging, and I’ve literally tried to take her leadership style and merit to my own, because it’s no fail. She has a no fail system. So..

Charlie:

She is a great leader, too.

Cherelle:

Yes, she is.

Charlie:

She’s been with us for many, many years. 

Cherelle:

Yes.

Charlie:

Okay. Culture. Everyone thinks that culture is important. We know as well and, you know, we’re biased, but we believe we have a special, unique culture here at the River. 

What is your favorite thing about our culture here and what is it that you think makes it so special?

Cherelle:

You know, but the diversity as well as when I think of our culture, I think of collaboration, like I truly do. I love how accessible, like all of our leaders and subject matter experts are. If I ever have a question, or maybe I am faced with something that I haven’t encountered before. I love that I can easily partner with someone and they’re going to prioritize my interaction. So, yeah.

Charlie:

That’s cool because collaboration is one of our core values. 

Cherelle:

Yes, yes.. 

Charlie:

Perceptions and misperceptions. What is one thing about Broad River that you think would surprise others from the outside looking in, maybe a misperception or something?

Cherelle:

I think it would be extremely surprising to know that we are such a people centric organization. I think it’s easy to believe that we’re more profits driven, but I work closely day in and day out with team members, whom again have set the standard at going above and beyond to make sure that we take care of our guys.

Charlie:

That’s great. Okay, so let’s talk about you. What is something about you that would surprise your fellow Memory Makers? 

Cherelle:

I am a huge sports fanatic, but primarily the Steelers. So, very sensitive about that right now. 

Charlie:

Big band retired. So it’ll be interesting to see who they draw.

Cherelle:

Replace them with, yeah. 

Charlie:

Some of them said Mac Raw from Ole Miss.

Cherelle:

You know, they said that we may get Jimmy G from San Fran, so I don’t know. We’ll see.

Charlie:

We’ll see. Okay. I know not everything is perfect and never is. If you can change one thing about the company today with the wave of your magic wand, what would it be? 

Cherelle:

Product availability, same day delivery. You want it? We got it. It’s here. Take it. So..

Charlie:

I love that. Well that is like the perfect answer, you want it, we got, take a hit today. It would drive a lot of customer solutions. 

Cherelle:

Yeah, it would.

Charlie:

That’s great. NPS would go through the roof. Okay. Let’s say that I’m ready to hang it up and I’m going to retire. I’m giving you the keys to the company.

And you’re now the president and CEO of Broad River Retail. And today’s your first day in the new role. What would be your first order of business? 

Cherelle:

Well, to be honest, you’ve laid such a great foundation. I believe that I would just continue to expand. So acquire more stores, go further south, northeast. That’s pretty much it. Just become bigger, bigger.

Charlie:

Healthy things grow and grow sustainably and responsibly. Okay. Word of the year, you know, last year it was two is FORWARD TOGETHER. A year before that, UNITED, the year before that PURPOSE.

You’ve been through all of our words of the year. This year, it’s THRIVE. So, you continue to thrive and excel even during the pandemic and in product availability issues and are doing a phenomenal job for us.

What does it mean for you to thrive and what advice would you offer up to a fellow Memory Maker to help him or her thrive this year? 

Cherelle:

The advice that I would offer is to make sure that you prioritize yourself, make time for yourself, right. So take time to make time for you, because when you are in a great state of mind, you’ll make great things happen.

So that’s exactly what I did. I made sure, especially with having to more or less, we spent way more time alone than we did these past two years than any time before. So that’s what I would advise.

Charlie:

Okay. So along those lines, what do you like? Do you have a morning routine? What are your best daily habits that have served you well?

Cherelle:

Yeah, I actually picked up meditation throughout this time, so I will, I wake up every morning at 5:15h. I roll out my mat. I do have a little bit of it’s I go to YouTube. It’s a thing I listen to every morning. It’s 15 minutes I sit there and I just eliminate the noise and I allow myself to kind of zoom in and prepare my day.

Cherelle:

That’s great. Hey, so secrets to your success. What do you think or what you think are or have been the secrets to your success?

Cherelle:

I’m being consistent, right. Owning my opportunities and making sure that I strive everyday to become greater than the day before. 

Charlie:

Okay. What show are you currently watching? 

Cherelle:

1883.

Charlie:

Okay. What do you love about that show? 

Cherelle:

You know, it’s a Western, so I’m really big into horses. And ranches, and so ..

Charlie:

Love it. So when you stop working for the day and you’ve got some time for yourself, what do you like to do for fun or to relax? 

Cherelle:

I love movies. So watching a great movie, maybe reading a book, listening to music, those all call me.

Charlie:

Awesome. And what are you currently reading?

Cherelle:

The Memoir, Will Smith’s Memoir. 

Charlie:

Love It. Love it. So, you know, we’ll go into like remote work, and and you know, do you work remotely? 

Cherelle:

I do. 

Charlie:

Does your whole team work remotely? 

Cherelle:

Yes. 

Charlie:

So we talked about flexibility, how that, like, our whole call center, most of our call centers now, like working remotely and how’s that working out?

Cherelle:

You know, but I actually kind of love it. I actually do. There are times where I just miss the noise of people right. Interacting with people. But I also do find it to be quite refreshing at times when you can just lock in to work, right. Without the just the normal day to day calls center noise. So I enjoy it.

Charlie:

So you just gotta make sure you get your fair dose of people in real life. 

Cherelle:

Yes.

Charlie:

Okay. Last question. To someone who is not a Memory Maker and is thinking of coming to the River, what advice would you offer to that person?

Cherelle:

I would actually tell them, well, number one apply and come and join. We’re more like a family than we are a job. And so I think that you would super enjoy it.

But most importantly, I think I mentioned this a little earlier. But just be patient with yourself. Take it one call at a time. Be curious to ask as many questions as you can, you know, throughout your training and trust your leadership. We’re going to make sure that we will lead and guide you to help you follow through in your career path.

Charlie:

I love that because you have as leaders, our new higher success is our scorecard, and we have to ensure their success. And we have a lot of people who come on Stories from the River who talk about patience. 

Cherelle:

Yes. 

Charlie:

And just stacking the wins one day at a time. 

Cherelle:

That’s important. 

Charlie:

Cherelle, you’ve been great. Thank you for what you’ve done for the company. I look forward to seeing you thrive again this year. And that’s it for today from Stories from the River with Cherelle Mannus. 

Cherelle:

Perfect. Bye guys. 

Charlie:

Thank you.

Welcome to Stories from the River, a podcast brought to you by Broad River Retail, where we’ll explore the personal journeys of our Memory Makers and share real stories from across the organization. And now for your host, president and CEO at the River, Charlie Malouf.

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