When it comes to customer service, the mission of Invacare Corp. is to give every customer an excellent experience every time. What helps bring that about is a team of associates passionate about the products the company manufactures and the services it offers.
Each customer service representative participates in “A Day in the Chair” program soon after initial training is completed to experience first-hand the daily challenges of a wheelchair user. As a result, the CSR gains an enhanced ability to empathize with the consumers and to understand that a wheelchair is more than just a product; it’s critical to the quality of life for the person.
That’s just a part of world-class service Invacare, under the direction of President and CEO Gerald Blouch, offers through its CSRs. By using a new workforce management tool that allows resources to be scheduled so that customers have shorter wait times to speak to an agent, callers now experience a 37 percent reduction in time on hold.
Likewise, during CSR idle time, crucial updates are deployed through webinars so CSRs can stay up-to-date on the latest practices.
Invacare focuses on five key areas to deliver exceptional customer service: being accessible to customers, keeping promises, listening to customers, swiftly and thoroughly dealing with complains, and taking the extra steps to reduce customer effort.
Numerous other motivational practices ranging from mentorships to community service help keep Invacare customers “front and center.”
How to reach: Invacare Corp., (440) 329-6000 or www.invacare.com
Rock Your Prom 2012 began with the modest goal of increasing brand awareness among Northeast Ohio students and school administrators. When it was all said and done, Rock The House Entertainment had provided students from Chardon High School with a night of joy and happiness that they would never forget.
The original prize was to be a $5,000 entertainment package. But when it became clear how much Chardon High students wanted to win this contest in light of the tragic school shooting on Feb. 27, 2012, Rock The House decided to expand the prize in a big way.
Under the leadership of founder and CEO Matt Radicelli, the company reached out to friends in the event industry and garnered support from more than 20 companies.
In the end, the event received more than $150,000 of services, including a national recording artist and the honor of being the first prom to ever be held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
It was a beautiful example of what can happen when a company is willing to stretch itself beyond expectations to make the customer happy. And it gave Chardon students a night to remember in a year that had been tainted with dark memories.
How to reach: Rock The House Entertainment, (440) 232-7625 or www.rthgroup.com
If you haven’t taken a moment recently to look around Greater Cleveland’s business community, it’s time you do so. You’ll have to experience the pride you feel. After having the privilege to sit on the panel of judges for this year’s Smart Business World Class Customer Service Awards, I am reminded that we are surrounded by innovators, strategists, pioneers and true “bar-setters” of what will soon become world-class standards in customer service.
Unlike when you might see a bright neon sign on the front of an establishment flashing “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” or “World’s Best Corned Beef Sandwich,” “world-class” is a difference that is obvious once you get a taste of this year’s World Class Customer Service Award winners. The term is not something that is displayed on a neon sign — “world-class” emerges as a result of passion and the unwavering, tenacious commitment to a company’s vision and purpose.
Regardless of the industry, the winners that were selected all had one common strand of DNA in the makeup of their company philosophy. That common strand is the ability to convey the beliefs and purpose that are at the core of their company’s mission to every associate within the organization. From the newly hired part-time cashier all the way to the longest-tenured top-level executive, there are no associates who don’t have crystal clarity on their purpose followed up with the accountability to deliver on those expectations.
In addition to communicating and delivering on core principles, I also learned from all our winners that you must deliver an incredible amount of TLC — not the TLC that your grandmother was an expert in delivering; this TLC comprises training, listening and customer care.
Consistent, oftentimes daily, training is the foundation for associates who are expected to produce repeat customers and profitability. A competent associate today, without consistent training, will most likely not be a competent associate tomorrow. Change occurs rapidly, and unless we are committed to this concept we will undoubtedly be surpassed by someone who is.
This group of award winners has also been able to react to trends and see opportunities, sometimes before they even exist, through the often lost art of listening. They listen not only to customers but also to associates who are on the front lines and are faced with constantly changing demands of customer service. Unless the customer and the associates are heard, misguided decisions are often made.
And lastly (only because it helps with the cleverness of the acronym!), Customer Care. Both internal and external customer care must be a priority. The winners showed remarkable consistency in both the constant recognition of a job well done within the organization, and a genuine appreciation of the customers their companies were designed to serve.
Congratulations to all of the World Class companies that are being recognized. We are truly surrounded by the Best of the Best!
John Spearry is the general manager of Metro Lexus. Reach him at John_Spearry@metrolexus or visit www.metrolexus.com.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. launched a new process in 2012 to ensure every employee at Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world are working toward a wildly important goal, or a W.I.G.
By following Stephen Covey’s guide, “The Four Disciplines of Execution,” Ritz-Carlton hotel teams like Kelly Steward, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland and her staff, focus on the most important objectives, define actions to establish a standard for performance, and showcase clear measurements and accountability.
What could be the most important goal for The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland? — Guest engagement. The hotel’s W.I.G is to achieve a certain percentage of guest engagement on its Guest Satisfaction Index Scorecard. With the W.I.G. in place, each department within The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland creates measurements as to how it can aid in achieving the W.I.G. For example, the front desk team created measurements to ensure they say a guest’s name at least three times during check-in or during an interaction. Every employee has a clear measurement to complete on a weekly basis over the year in order to achieve the W.I.G.
The departments create scoreboards to measure their weekly successes and opportunities to improve and corporate calls are held to ensure the hotel is staying on track. The Ritz-Carlton’s overall goal is to provide effective, impressive service.
How to reach: The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, (216) 623-1300 or www.ritzcarlton.com
WCCS 2013 – Hyatt Legal Plans
From inception, Hyatt Legal Plans’ strategy has been to build its business by focusing on quality service. As a result, the company is the nation’s largest provider of group legal plans, serving more than 10 million employees of the nation’s biggest employers.
Hyatt Legal Plan’s philosophy of keeping it simple while providing world-class service has endeared the company to its customers and constituents and is the strategy behind its operations. William Brooks is CEO for the 35-year-old company.
With a mission statement of “Quality Service Always” the company makes sure clients have immediate access to a live person. It combines that with a “once and done” strategy that ensures callers speak with the right person in one call more than 97 percent of the time, earning a client satisfaction rate of 96.5 percent in 2012.
Hyatt’s call center hires only candidates with four-year college degrees and at least two years of customer service experience. These representatives refer plan members to the largest network of attorneys in the industry who must be in practice a minimum of seven years and have no bar association issues. Network attorneys average 25 years in practice, the highest in the industry.
Hyatt’s call center is the showcase of the organization and the major reason why a company would pick Hyatt over the competition.
How to reach: Hyatt Legal Plans, (216) 241-0022 or www.legalplans.com
Hospice of the Western Reserve Inc. CEO William Finn knows there is only one opportunity to make it right for the patients and families who interact with his organization and his team.
“Our mission is to assure that the patient has everything he or she needs in order to manage pain and symptoms in an environment of dignity and peace,” he says. “We walk with them through this journey that for many is their first experience with death and dying.”
This begins with a well-trained staff.
Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Admissions Team receives in-depth education designed to reframe their “first face” role. This includes formulating best-practice language tailored to a patient’s specific needs, as well as learning how to view each encounter with a patient or family member as an opportunity to offer access to the right level of care they need versus creating the perception that they’re being sold a service.
A unique solution Finn’s team provides is bereavement support and crisis intervention to the community-at-large. For example, when a teacher, police officer or student dies, Hospice of the Western Reserve provides immediate phone consultation and often on-site services.
As a result, the Elisabeth Prentiss Severance Bereavement Center has garnered recognition as a source of expert advice related to school crisis response.
How to reach: Hospice of the Western Reserve Inc., www.hospicewr.org or (216) 383-2222
Inside the corporate headquarters of PartsSource Inc., you’ll find a whiteboard that reads, “The customer is not always right. The customer is always the customer!”
It’s an acknowledgement that there are times when a customer is in the wrong. But any business that prides itself on providing exceptional service understands that you don’t gain anything by arguing with a customer whom you believe to be wrong. Rather, it’s your job to gain an understanding of the problem and find a way to solve it.
It’s a philosophy that has enabled PartsSource to become a leading provider of medical replacement parts. The company is led by A. Ray Dalton, founder and CEO, and follows a philosophy to do whatever it takes to get customers what they need.
PartsSource works with its customers to locate the parts they need, but then sticks with them throughout the process to make sure the order is filed and then fulfilled properly. This includes a call to verify delivery and confirm that the package contains exactly what was ordered. The effort to be responsive in times of need is continually refined to provide a level of comfort for customers that PartsSource will be there when needed.
How to reach: PartsSource Inc., (877) 497-6412 or www.partssource.com
When Marvel Studios needed a new place to shoot “The Avengers,” the film’s executive producer contacted the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. It was requested that the commission’s president, Ivan Schwarz, be in Los Angeles the next morning to discuss moving production from Michigan to Cleveland.
The fact that Ohio had a motion picture tax credit was a plus, but 37 other states had one too. It was Schwarz’s willingness to go to California on such short notice and his and his team’s ability to make things happen quickly that ultimately brought the film production to Cleveland.
Calls were made to governmental entities to ensure that the production crew would have its needs met completely. The commission operates with the goal of bringing economic development to Northeast Ohio, not A-list celebrities. Everyone at the commission works to ensure that work on the film can be done with minimal interruptions and as costs effectively as possible.
A software program is used to create custom location packages when production requests and opportunities present themselves.
Production on “The Avengers” resulted in $40 million spent in Northeast Ohio as businesses from coffee shops to lumber companies felt the impact.
How to reach: Greater Cleveland Film Commission, (216) 623-3910 or www.clevelandfilm.com
Fred Ode launched Foundation Software in 1985 with the purpose of building a company that would be a dominant force in the construction accounting software industry — and that offered customer-friendly solutions. Each client was his own responsibility and Ode, chairman and CEO, went the extra mile to supply the client with exceptional service and attention.
The company grew, and that meant adding more employees. Ode made it his priority to bring people into Foundation Software who shared his goals and desires to provide world-class customer care.
Today, the company has nearly 4,000 clients across all the United States and goes out of its way to monitor and deliver the best customer support possible. Foundation Software makes each client feel like its No. 1 priority.
Many sales result from referrals from current clients or CPAs familiar with Foundation Software. A satisfied client is happy to tell any contractor using Foundation for Windows about the company’s service and support. Clients not only get a sophisticated yet easy-to-use accounting program but a team of experts with considerable industry and accounting knowledge.
With the system formula of sales, welcome, implementation/training and ongoing support and education, Foundation has refined its processes over the years to deliver whatever it takes to ensure the best customer service it can give.
How to reach: Foundation Software, (800) 246-0800 or www.foundationsoft.com
At Faber-Castell, one of the company mottos is, “Doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” Founded in 1761 by a cabinetmaker, the firm is one of the world’s oldest industrial companies — and that motto and its longevity show that the organization stands for a consistent delivery of a quality experience in all areas of business.
Headquartered in Cleveland, Faber-Castell USA offers a wide range of creative and writing products for all ages. It is part of the Faber-Castell family of companies founded in Stein, Germany.
The motto above is a motivational driving force within the entire company, which is led by CEO Jamie Gallagher. By following through on the smallest details, Faber-Castell believes this characteristic sets the company apart from the competition. Employees know that even the smallest personal gesture can make a huge impact.
And when small gestures are considered, they may be the deciding factor in a customer’s decision to continue purchasing or seeking out Faber-Castell brands in the future, regardless of price.
Highly trained, dedicated and motivated employees are vital to the company’s success. Employees are rewarded with a yearly product allowance and discount so that they, their friends and family can purchase Faber-Castell products and, in effect, become “brand ambassadors,” spreading the word on “doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
How to reach: Faber-Castell USA, (216) 643-4660 or www.faber-castell.com