Better training

When you call Invacare Corp.’s customer service with a question, you won’t be placed on hold for a miserable amount of time only to be passed around to multiple people before hanging up, feeling dejected and answerless. It doesn’t happen because the manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment empowers its front-line employees with the tools they need to make decisions, answer questions and correct errors.

Customer service is such a critical component of every company that leaders need to ask themselves if they’re equipping their employees to sufficiently provide assistance. Invacare leaders, including Director of Customer Service Elizabeth Gwynn, asked themselves that very question — in fact, they do it often. And it has resulted in a thorough training program that benefits the customer and the employee.

A main source of input for employee training comes directly from Invacare’s customers. If customer feedback mentions the need for training in a product line or skill, the topic is quickly incorporated in training.

The key to providing excellent customer service is making sure that element of your business is a constant focus for employees.

Invacare’s customer service representatives participate in formal classroom sessions and graded training assessments each month. The purpose is to address new information and refresh employees on critical components to their jobs. Along with formal training, Invacare’s supervisory team provides ongoing coaching to touch on individual needs of team members.

Perhaps Invacare’s greatest commitment to customer service and the department that delivers it is through its “pay for knowledge” program. The program defines a career path for those looking to move up within the department. Employees attend 248 hours of training centered on company products, system applications and leadership skills. In July 2009, the company added a mentoring component.

It’s all a part of the customer service departments “E4” mantra: “Exceptional service, every time through employee empowerment.”

How to reach: Invacare Corp., (440) 329-6000 or