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Building Business Relationships: a Customer Interview with Deborah Douglas – Gift Baskets Overseas Corporate Podcast ep. 9

Welcome, to another episode of Long Distance Short. Today’s host, Sempronia, sits down with a long-term valued client: Deborah Douglas, Senior Executive Assistant at the Will-Burt Company to discuss building business relationships!

Deborah graciously opened up about her experiences using to send gifts to valued customers and team members for 14 years. Together, the two dive into the importance of building relationships in business and the power of personalized attention. Keep listening to learn more about the power of corporate gifts and how GBO can make sending them around the world quick and easy!

Sempronia Hobgood: Welcome everyone, to another episode of Long Distance Short. Today I am very fortunate to get to speak with one of our customers, Deborah Douglas, who works with the Will-Burt company / And Deborah to get us started, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and the amazing company that you work for?

Deborah Douglas: Thank you for this opportunity. I’m going to enjoy this conversation with you. I’ve been with the Will-Burt Company for almost 19 years now. Through two CEOs, as their senior executive assistants. And we’ve been around since 1918 actually. We’re a global organization that is based in Orrville, Ohio. And we were incorporated in 1918, and we’re 100% ESOP. With 450 employees. And we also have ISO certified manufacturing locations in Oklahoma, England, Germany, and Turkey.

Sempronia Hobgood: Wow! And did I hear you’re right? Did you say you’ve been around since 1918?

Deborah Douglas: I haven’t Sempi,  but the Will-Burt Company has!

Sempronia Hobgood:  I feel lucky to get to speak with you. You’re I’m imagining one of the more knowledgeable employees there.

Deborah Douglas: May I share with you some of our fun projects?

Sempronia Hobgood: Oh I would love to hear about them

Deborah Douglas: We are part of a quarter of a million-dollar flagpole for the Palace of Versailles.

Deborah Douglas: We installed 72 lights on our pneumatic mass at the French Open. And we have masts at a 24-hour golf course in Tokyo. As well as Disneyland Paris. I think that’s exciting.

Sempronia Hobgood: So you, like us, work just about everywhere around the world, it sounds.

Deborah Douglas: Yes.

Sempronia Hobgood: Oh wow, wonderful! That explains then how you’ve been a customer with us now since 2009 using us to send gifts to your valued recipients in 29 countries for a total of 14 years. And I’m curious: what is it about our service that has made you such a loyal customer?

Deborah Douglas: Sempi this is my first conversation with you, but over the course of my relationship with your company I believe I’ve dealt with at least three, if not four people, and every single one I felt like was my friend. Because they hire so smartly that I know that everything is going to be flawless from the beginning to the delivery. And I’ll go back to Covid. I was really sick when I was trying to go through this process in December. 

And I actually duplicated several orders and I don’t remember the girl’s name that I dealt with before Mariana, but it was the woman before her that she called me, and she said, Hey, I don’t think this is what you meant to do and we looked at it again. Instead of just being, I believe your employees care about their customers, they care about perfection, they care about the process, they care about details. And so, I know, when I place an order with your company, I don’t have to worry about it after that. And it’s happened consistently with every employee that I’ve worked with. They give you the tools in the beginning, and then also send me all the links. I tell them what countries I’m looking for, they send me all the links to choose gifts from and it just couldn’t be more easy.

Long Distance Short - Building Business Relationships: podcast

Sempronia Hobgood: I am so happy to hear that, and I have to say you’re absolutely right. And that we take such care in hiring employees who truly believe in our mission to help customers stay connected to clients, friends, family, employees through gifts. We’re really about bridging that gap and I’m glad that it’s reflected in the service that you’ve gotten these past 14 years. Knowing that you’ve worked with us so long I’m also curious to know if you’ve ever used another service to try and send as many gifts as this around the world and if you have how does our service compare to any that you’ve used previously, either yourself or on behalf of the Will-Burt Company?

Deborah Douglas: Sempi, I’ve used a different companies domestically, but when I first started sending internationally, I connected with your company, and it’s been the end results have been perfect and so flawless, I’ve never looked to come partner with another company.

Sempronia Hobgood:  I’m so glad that you could find us first and that we could impress you so much that you’ve continued to stay with us. Knowing that you’ve sent, for 14 years straight. I imagine there’s probably multiple reasons, but what are some of your key reasons for sending gifts? Do you send them for instance, only for the holidays for employee rewards or other maybe personal touch points along the way?

Deborah Douglas: I send them specifically at Christmas time to special clients, and I also send them to,  we’re based in Orrville,  but we have employees that work all of the United States. So I also send them as a thank you to them because they can’t be here with us at the holidays, but occasionally if a certain occasion comes up, I’ll do an international one or domestically.

Sempronia Hobgood: That’s wonderful. And, knowing that you said both to employees and to clients, I’m curious. How do you feel that sending gifts has impacted your relationships, both with your team members and with your clients?

Deborah Douglas: And that’s a very good question. It’s twofold. When I work with my sales team here, which we have about a dozen people. Once you send me the link for  their particular country, I will go in and I will pick two or three options, and then I will send them to them. So it’s like, we’re working on this together. It’s your client, your customer, and I’m trying to give you what I think perhaps would be the best options for them. And then we also work on what the gift card is going to read. So, from a Will-Burt employee standpoint, there’s levity in it. There’s goodwill in it, there’s camaraderie in it. It’s really great and many times that salesperson will then send me the thank you card that they are sent from the customer along with a picture of what they received because they’re so appreciative of it.

Sempronia Hobgood: That’s so wonderful! We always wonder, what kind of feedback do you receive from your recipients? So knowing that they send  a little thank you card or a picture of what they’ve received back to you is great. I’m curious, do you have any feedback from the recipients of your gifts that sort of stands out in your mind over the past 14 years?

Deborah Douglas: A couple of years ago, not everyone responds, that I recieve anyway, not everyone responds with the thank you but I would say many do every year. And a couple of years ago and I don’t remember her name or what country she was from, but there was an option in there that you could create this package just for a woman. Instead of the general gift baskets that you have available and I remember sending her that, and I don’t know if those items aren’t available in that country or perhaps they’re too expensive or then that easily available, but you would have thought that she just won the lottery when she received that or perhaps she was having a bad day and just really brightened her day, but hers sticks out most in my mind,

Sempronia Hobgood: We love to hear that, and I do know that in several countries we are thanks to the connections that we have with many local suppliers and things. We are able to get some items that are a little harder to find. I’m not a hundred percent certain that was the case here, but it’s certainly the case in some locations that our gifts are unique in that way that we make some items a little bit more accessible. And you’ve spoken a great deal about the personal touch that we have here at Gift Baskets Overseas, and feeling like you’re working with a friend and people who truly care when you’re working with us to get your holiday gifts. Other than that, since we’ve spoken to that so much already. What is your favorite part about working with us?

Deborah Douglas: Sempi,  I truly honestly can’t emphasize this enough. I guess I would say the person on the other end. I was going to say I have no favorite part because from the initial contact when I start working on these in the end of October, till the time that I received notification from your company that they’ve been received on the date close to the date that I’ve asked for them to be received. It’s the end results, just perfect, it’s just flawless. So if I had to pick one thing, it would be the person that I’m working with. But really all of it is it’s just so easy to do.

Will-Burt Logo

Sempronia Hobgood: Deborah that is just so reassuring to hear that truly lets me know that we’re doing it right! You know, having you love everything, from start, to finish. Curious to know if you have any way of sort of measuring the success of your gift-sending campaigns. For example, some people measure customer or employee retention metrics or others measure just kind of the number of thank yous that they get. Do you have any way of looking at this to deem whether or not this year’s batch of gifts was successful?

Deborah Douglas: I personally do not, but I can tell you that the salespeople are turning in, with consistency, pretty much the same names year after year. So that tells me something, but we all know that success is built on relationships, like the one I have with you and your company. So that in itself is a metric I think.

Sempronia Hobgood: Wow, you couldn’t be more right, and I love that you say that that success is built on relationships because more and more it’s about that personal touch. About being able to feel like you really connect, not just with the products that a company is selling, but with the people who stand behind it, so it’s customers, like you that keep us motivated. That keep us honest, being with us for 14 years you’ve probably seen a lot of our programs grow. A lot of them come from customers, like you, giving us ideas. So I thank you for sticking around and for being so willing to speak with us. And I know you’ve worked with a few corporate gift specialists now. So, thank you for being willing to build those new relationships to trust that new person coming on and see that you still get the same great service.

I have one final question for you and it’s just a curious, personal note here. If you could describe your perfect  gift that you would like to receive if you were a part of a company’s holiday campaign, what would that gift be?

Deborah Douglas: I am a low-maintenance person Sempi. I would say … You know, I liked that basket that I gave that woman a couple of years ago. I think because it felt more tailored to her as opposed to a wine basket or a food basket. I think that’s what I would say, something tailored to a woman. 

Sempronia Hobgood: Okay, so something like a spa relaxation. A girl’s day kind of basket.

Deborah Douglas: Yes. Yes.

Sempronia Hobgood: That’s, if you’re going to get something to relax.

Sempronia Hobgood: So I can certainly appreciate that and Deborah before I let you go. I want to ask one final question and that is, if you were speaking to a first-time customer of Gift Baskets Overseas. Somebody who’s on the fence about whether or not they’re going to shop with us, what would your message to them be?

Deborah Douglas: My message would be give me a call, so we can speak directly. So I can tell you that I can’t say enough good about this company after 14 years. I can’t think of one time,  not one time something wasn’t right. or that the ball was dropped. I’m 68 years old, it’s the most flawless experience, I have had in my corporate career. And I would tell them I’m not being paid for this.

Sempronia Hobgood: and that’s a true testament, isn’t it? Deborah, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I truly appreciate it, and I’ll make sure that I pass along these kind words to the corporate gift specialists that have worked with you. I’m sure that they’ll love hearing just how well that they’ve done. And I hope that we get to see you again this season. I suspect that we will

Deborah Douglas: Yes, absolutely. And thank you so much for your time Sempi.

Wrapping Up Our Customer Interview About Building Business Relationships with Gifts

This has been another episode of “Long Distance Short” — your podcast for tips, tricks, and real-life stories of how to make the most of any long-distance relationship. If you want to learn more about a corporate gift campaign with, you can email the team at [email protected], call toll-free from the US and Canada at 1 888 673-2822, or request a call by going directly to the website:

You’ve heard one customer’s take on building business relationships with gifts; now what?