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Employee Story

Employee Spotlight: Cuong

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The first full week of October marked National Customer Service Week, and this is the perfect time to share the story of an Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington employee who is undoubtedly one of the best in the business.

More than 30 years ago, Cuong’s career in the customer service industry began while waiting tables at a restaurant during his high school years.

At the time, there was a monetary benefit to making sure customers were happy, but what piqued Cuong’s interest in the customer service field was helping people and being able to “see them smiling.”

After high school, Cuong decided to pursue a job opportunity at Rite Aid, working his way up the career ladder into a variety of managerial roles and staying with the company for 15 years.

After a friend told him about a management job opportunity available at Evergreen Goodwill’s flagship Dearborn nonprofit thrift store, he decided to apply and was hired on with the company in Sept. 2007.

After spending several years working in store management positions, Cuong decided to use his skills to help future customer service professionals be successful on the job.

It’s that passion for providing excellent service and for interacting with customers that have landed him in the position he has today – working as an instructor teaching cashiering and customer service skills to Goodwill students who are learning English as a second language (ESOL).

“I just bring my skills that I learned in the store, work with the people, and I bring it to the class,” Cuong said.

He says his favorite part about being a teacher is watching the progression of his students from start to finish, especially when it comes to witnessing their comfort level with communicating and speaking greatly increase.

“In few months, you can see a big change for them, you can see they’re confident, they can talk more, they’re happy, and they’re working – that is the goal,” said Cuong.

Cuong says his technique with teaching really is about helping his students out of their comfort zone and doing away with hesitations about speaking with the public. He says being able to relate to their experience helps with doing that.

Emigrating to the United States in 1980, Cuong says he didn’t know any English and had to “learn from scratch.”

“[It gives] them a little security that they don’t see someone else speaking very fast and just worry them,” Cuong said. “I think that for me, I kind of relate … and also immigrate here.”

Committing more than three decades of his life to the field of customer service, Cuong says he loves his current job and wants to help as many people as possible by continuing to work with the organization to expand its vocational l ESOL programs.

“I just want to continue helping students to move on to better life,” Cuong said.

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