After nearly 20 years at Pagliacci, Ruth Cohen, Phone Center General Manager, is retiring. In 1998, when she started working for Pagliacci Pizza, the entire customer service operation was located in a back room at the Miller store on Capitol Hill. “There were about ten of us,” Ruth says. “If you pushed your chair back you ran into someone else. The room was hot and noisy.”
Fortunately, just a few months later the company moved into its present-day headquarters on Pike Street. Customer Service Representatives (CSR) got the space and tools they needed to field the expanding number of calls. The customer service team grew to more than 40. Ruth worked closely with the late Jun Kenney to train and manage the new CSR’s.
“We’re kind to our customers,” Ruth says. “We love them when they’re ordering, but we also take care of them when something goes wrong. We stand behind our product, and if we mess up, we make it right. Pagliacci’s customer service is something that makes me proud of Pagliacci.”
Ruth works hard to put herself in the customer’s shoes. Especially with complaints. “I ask myself, How would you feel? And then it’s about taking care of the customer.”
On a busy night it’s not always easy. “I’ve been called every name in the book. But customers have also been crazy kind to me.”
John Clifford, Pagliacci’s Director of Operations, says, “Ruth is well known for her calm demeanor and service-focused attitude. Many location managers are effusive about how she has helped them out.”
In the company’s darkest days, after the passing of Jun, who had been the voice of Pagliacci from the beginning, Ruth graciously and effortlessly stepped into the enormous shoes that had been left empty. It’s her calm demeanor and empathetic attitude that made Ruth successful.
“Ruth is the quintessential mother hen,” says Jeff Woodruff, Pagliacci’s Vice President of Operations. “Whether it is connecting with and nurturing the CSR’s or taking time to repair delivery bags with her needles and yarn, she fits the mold.”
Ruth’s dedication once led her to sleep in the office during a snowstorm. “We were hit with a huge storm,” John remembers. “Rather than risk heading home and missing work, Ruth slept overnight at the office to make sure she was around to answer phones and coordinate with stores. Given that we aren’t really set up for sleepovers, subsequent snowstorms saw Ruth in a hotel down the street!”
“You do what you’ve got to do,” Ruth says sheepishly. “I live way out past Redmond. Now I have a Subaru and can get home in the snow.”
In her retirement Ruth plans to devote more time to family, granddaughter, some travel, and her growing business making hand-crocheted lace wrist cuffs, chokers, collars, fingerless gloves, and more. She sells them through her Etsy shop Scarlet Rabbit.
“I cater to niche crowds,” Ruth says, “like the gothic community, steampunk and the Victorian community.”
Reminiscing about leaving, Ruth says, “It’s going to be a lot quieter in my life, which isn’t all bad, but I will certainly miss the people. One of the things about customer service is we’re all talkers. That’s why we like a job like this. There are a lot of fun conversations that go on. When you work with the same people day in and day out, you develop a real sense of camaraderie.”
Ruth has done as much as anyone to facilitate that spirit of camaraderie, in the office certainly, but also with the thousands of regular customers she’s dealt with week in and week out.
Ruth, you will be missed.