Merits bolsters its customer service

Sunday, December 31, 2006

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Merits Health Products may be extremely competitive when it comes to pricing products, but price alone doesn't spell success, said Steve Neese, vice president of sales and marketing.
That's why the company embarked late last year on a major effort to upgrade its customer service. Those efforts included expanding its hours of operation; simplifying its pricing structure; offering 0% financing for 12 months on orders of at least $5,000; improving technical and reimbursement support; and doing everything it can--such as offering financial incentives to employees--to ensure that all orders received by 2 p.m. EST are shipped the same day.
"Since 100% of everything we make is in Taiwan or China, we compete very well from a price standpoint, but in the past we have not competed quite as well in some other arenas," Neese said.
The fact that Merits may have lagged behind some competitors on customer service is no great surprise. The company started out in 1987 as an OEM manufacturer, making products for other companies (it still does), and only began selling direct to HMEs about five years ago.
"They were used to shipping large orders to very few people, and then they made the transition to a branded manufacturer selling smaller quantities and never really put in the necessary operational changes," said Neese, who worked six years as an Invacare executive before joining Merits last summer.
Neese described Merits as "a diamond in the rough." The company did the hard things well--manufacturing and developing products--but needed to improve its customer service and marketing.
"Most everyone understood that for us to prosper and grow, we would have to do this, and everyone jumped in," he said.
Merits offers a full array of home medical equipment, including wheelchairs, bath safety products and concentrators.