At your service

Sunday, March 31, 2002

Old hand handles Sunrise customers
LONGMONT, Colo. - Four years after leaving Quickie Designs, a company she joined in 1981 when chairs were being sold out of a garage, Shelia De Lany is back at Sunrise Medical, this time as v.p. of customer service. From Fresno, Calif., De Lany will lead a staff of more than 100 in call centers at Fresno, Calif.; Longmont, Colo.; and Somerset, Pa. Ten days after she rejoined Sunrise, HME News spoke with De Lany.

HME NEWS: Are there any trends in customer service on the vendor side of the business?

SDL: Absolutely. Service is a differentiator. It's a strategy in and of itself. But you can't really differentiate until everything else is right. The company has to be good.

HME: Where are you now, and where do you want to take customer service at Sunrise?

SDL: We're in the process of making sure we understand the important factors in maintaining and building relationships by segment, whether in respiratory, rehab or a full-line dealer. What are the six to seven key things that need to be done?

HME: For example?

SDL: Phone technology. If we need to make a change to phone technology so that we can route customers more flexibly. We also need to make sure we've got specialists on our service team so we can get customers to the right rep. We need to be sure we're easy to access.

HME: Online ordering: Where is Sunrise with that initiative now?

SDL: More than 10% of our orders are placed on the Web, and we're looking at programs taking that to the next step. We're doing some pilot programs on a systems-to-systems approach where a dealer might not have to use our Web ordering format but their own, so that their system can speak to our system.

HME: How do you evaluate your performance?

SDL: We have identified and will continue to work to identify the key factors from the customer's point of view. Is it phone hold time, accuracy of the order, ability to ship and deliver on the promised date? Sixty-eight percent of customers will switch companies because of real or perceived indifference. Only 14% switch because of actual product problems. Recognizing those kinds of general statistics is important.

HME: Any changes on the near horizon?

SDL: We're looking at a phone system upgrade that will take us to the next level in terms of flexibility and responsiveness. We're continuing to work on Web access and to look at systems-to-system solution. Because we are a products company, we are looking at new product introductions and making sure our individuals in the call centers are part of the training, not only on the product but how it fits in the marketplace.