Our COO: An Interview with Stephen Fason
In a recent interview, Stephen Fason, Chief Operating Officer of Cell Nutritionals, was asked about his involvement in the Cell Nutritionals’ daily operations.
Q: What is it like managing operations for a small company like Cell Nutritionals?
“I’ve never worked in a large corporate environment, so my role is not so different from what I’ve always done. I’ve run my own business successfully for 17 years. That’s something that certainly beats the odds.”
Q: You have a reputation for customer service. Where does that come from?
“That’s a bit like asking me why I’m left-handed! I guess I’ve always enjoyed figuring things out. I was the kind of kid who followed the television repairman around and learned how to fix things for myself.
Part of good customer service is fixing problems, not just schmoozing. Don’t get me wrong, I invest in the relationship part, but if you can’t solve the customer’s problem in a timely manner, then talk about customer service goes nowhere.”
Q: What did working in the computer industry teach you about service?
“Problems don’t always crop up during normal business hours and so it’s necessary to work evenings and weekends at times.”
Q: Can you say more?
“Sure. I’m used to working when I need to work, not according to some arbitrary schedule. If a delivery of Cell Nutritionals products comes in late on a Friday and our orders are backed up, I’m not above coming in on the weekend to get everything ready for Monday’s picking and shipping.
I know how to pitch in when necessary, like when Teri was on vacation and we had a huge special running.”
Q: Since you don’t run a store front, do you ever miss the interaction with live customers?
“I’ve never been far from customer feedback, and Cell Nutritionals is no different. I actually read and respond to all the inquires that come in to “Orders.”
The first year we were in business, our shipping rates were higher, and I heard about it frequently from members. Sometimes I thought members had way too much time on their hands, since they seemed to quibble about every quarter they spent. I didn’t get very far explaining that many of the companies these members were comparing us with have higher prices.
Over time, it became clear that many of our members were not just being difficult, but really had to pinch pennies, because they were honestly facing trade-offs. I looked at the numbers and decided that we actually could drop our shipping rates. I don’t hear much about shipping rates anymore.
I enjoy communicating with members who write to “Orders,” although I think some of my friends would be surprised that I actually take the time to write.
There’s something about this business that is amazingly personal, even though we don’t see our customers come through the door every day.”
Q: We hear that you have another source of member feedback!
“I take it you’ve been talking to Teri. Teri’s a genius when it comes to banter and connecting with customers. Although I’ve known her forever, she never ceases to amaze me with her lines. If the day is a downer, then you only have to listen to Teri talk about her calls. You always learn something important and you can’t help but crack up.”
Q: Rumor has it that you once worked as a Mouse. Care to comment?
“That’s really not that funny — (long pause). Okay, I’ll give you this one. It was in high school. I worked at Chuck E Cheese Pizza, and I had to work birthday parties. And, by the way, Chuck E is a rat — Mickey is the mouse. Any other stupid questions or are we done?”
If you are interested in contacting Stephen Fason, write to him at