Originally from Quimper, Virginie is a self-confident woman who has followed a non-standard career path. Having studied mechanical engineering, Virginie achieved a distinction in her school-leaving exams. At the age of 18, this go-getter won a competition for a study grant promoting technical careers.

In 2002, she joined GDF SUEZ and entered the field of customer relations as a phone adviser. Listening, advising and selling with a smile, Virginie has flourished in this career, because over and above the sales aspect, it’s listening to customers and advising them that really motivates her. It’s with GDF SUEZ DolceVita – the Group’s natural gas and electricity supply subsidiary – that she has chosen to develop her career.

When Virginie heard about a national competition to choose France’s Top Adviser, she thought “Why not me?” She passed the online test and the regional selections, and found herself in front of the national judging panel. At the official ceremony hosted on October 10 last year in Paris by the French Customer Relations Association (Association Française de la Relation Client or AFRC), her name was announced as the winner amongst 2,500 thousand entrants from all over France.

The role of the telephone sales adviser is changing with the emergence of Customer Relations 2.0, something that Virginie sees as an opportunity for progress in her specialty.

Here’s what France’s Top Adviser for 2013 has to say:

“I offer my customers appropriate products and services over a headset phone in an open-plan office. Then there are new processes, where we test new products and services that may be offered in other ways, including via digital channels. I’m thinking here, for example, of web callback, which is where the customer clicks on a web page button to request a callback, and also of all the different initiatives that involve the use of new technology.

In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of developments in communication and the way advice is given. Obviously, compared with spending eight hours on the phone giving strictly controlled answers to the same questions, these developments really break up the routine. Today, it’s a completely different customer contact career, which varies from one task to another.

Of course, there are customers who are unhappy for one reason or another, but the aim is always to respond to their dissatisfaction by trying to understand what’s happened and find the right solution. And I can tell you that in 98% of cases, the customer relationship works very, very well. For me, this job is not the stereotype it’s sometimes made out to be. Instead, I get the feeling that my customers are happy to have me on the other end of the phone, and the reverse is equally true.