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Building relationships

On the job: Retail Associate Shannon Wilson-Ellis

Riverdale, MD, Retail Associate Shannon Wilson-Ellis
Riverdale, MD, Retail Associate Shannon Wilson-Ellis helps USPS build customer loyalty.

I’m a retail associate in Riverdale, MD. I work out of two Post Offices here, so the customers in the neighborhood know me pretty well.

I start my shift by sorting letters and parcels and placing them in the PO Boxes. I spend the rest of the day serving my customers at the counter and helping keep the lobby clean and the products replenished.

I joined the Postal Service 19 years ago, first working as an automation clerk in Dulles, VA. After two years, the commute became too much and I came to the Riverdale Post Office one day and asked the supervisor if she needed help. She said she did, and I’ve been here ever since.

What I enjoy most about my job are the customers.

My motto is: “A smile goes a long way.” I believe that all customers should be greeted warmly because it can help lift their spirits. I learned this once when a customer approached my counter in a bad mood. I smiled and was friendly. Before she left, she told me her purse had been stolen and that my positive attitude made her feel better.

The conversations I have with my customers have changed through the years. I remember when I didn’t have to ask the hazardous materials question that is now standard. Mailing options have also increased, which means I spend more time educating customers on Priority Mail, what can and can’t be mailed, and the cost of our products.

I’ve had some customers tell me they want to check out the competition — and then when they do, they come back and tell me that USPS is indeed the more affordable option.

I have a customer who used to come in every week, stand in line and only buy one stamp. I began telling her she could avoid the lines by buying a book of stamps, but she kept buying just one stamp.

One day, she came in to buy her usual one stamp and I handed her a book of stamps that I had purchased for her. She buys a book of stamps now.

When I’m not at work, you will probably find me watching movies with my husband, Rod, and our 11-year-old son, Derek. If I could go to the movies every weekend, I would. When we can’t go to the theater, we enjoy watching movies on Netflix.

The Postal Service has been a good career for me. We’re a family here, and it’s like a second home.

“On the job,” a series on individual employees and their contributions to the Postal Service, appears regularly in Link.

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