No. 77 – MobilityWorks

MobilityWorks – Bill Koeblitz, president & CEO, Taylor Clark, principal

Q: Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

 

With having multiple locations across different states and time zones, one of the biggest challenges we faced was in making sure that every phone call was being promptly answered and handled correctly. We started to fix the problem over a year ago by using a service provider that could record, route and create online reports for each phone call that came in through our Web site.

As we monitored the calls over several months and discovered how many were not being answered, we realized this was much a bigger problem than we had first thought. Just as important was our ability to key in on specific areas where we needed more help. Improved follow-up reporting with the use of our new customer relationship management software (CRM) was also a high priority. We rely on a very consultative sales process, so asking the right questions and responding to the caller with informative, helpful answers is extremely important.

We started to address these concerns by planning out a new Client Care Center that would answer all of our internet-generated calls. This involved converting space at our Akron consumer headquarters to house the new team tasked with answering the calls, making appointments at our remote locations and entering the contact’s information into our CRM.

To do this required a well thought-out process for every different type of call – and in preparing our care center staff for every potential issue. They would need to know exactly which questions to ask, respond appropriately on-the-fly, and transfer it to the right person at a remote location when necessary.

This also required setting up a detailed call-routing plan that included creating a database of area codes and route options for several different 800 numbers. In the process of fixing our call handling, we also discovered a need for formalized training for our consultants.

The results thus far have been phenomenal. We now know that every call is getting answered correctly and that our clients aren’t being transferred from one person to another or to voice mail – which happened way too often in the past. Our Web site calls to appointment conversion has dramatically improved with these changes. We now have three full-time employees in our care center that have expanded their role further by handling more inquiries from other marketing sources. The combined use of call tracking software, the new care center and our CRM helped us to overcome this challenge and to provide a better experience for our website visitors needing assistance.

Q:In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge? 

A recent technology project that came to fruition at the end of 2009 involved integrating the new CRM with our new financial accounting software. The Web-based CRM had to be rolled out to 13 locations with more than 50 users being trained, all while integrating historical data and phasing out our previous legacy system. After more than a year of research, planning and development (in 2008), the rollout, testing and training process took another full year to accomplish.

This also required having to keep two financial systems running concurrently. We are now seeing the benefits of that integration unfold. While this concept and investment in technology isn’t new to many businesses, it is rare and leading edge to our niche industry.

Our next big project is to move toward virtual desktops within the next six months. We foresee a lot of benefits in not having to maintain each computer application for every employee, especially with having so many remote locations.

In terms of products, we are offering individuals much more choices in the types of vehicles that can be used with a wheelchair or scooter. Our latest being an accessible wheelchair motorcycle called The Conquest. MobilityWorks recently purchased the rights to the patented design and we are now manufacturing them here in Akron.

Another innovative product is called the TMN Robot, an automated robotic arm that can retrieve and store a wheelchair in most sedans, crossovers and SUVs. This product allows a person in a wheelchair to drive what they want to drive (with hand controls) and not have to rely on someone else to fold and store the chair in the back seat or trunk. Designed by an engineering firm in Israel, we are the only authorized reseller and installer of the TMN Robot in the United States.  

 

Q: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?

 

Our business is helping people who can’t travel without some type of modified vehicle, lift or adaptive equipment. Most have to deal with a lot of other issues in their life. You have to be caring and attentive to their individual needs and run your business with integrity. These are core values that we promote with our employees every day. That can sometimes get lost when you are talking about things like new technology and business processes.

 

Q: How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

MobilityWorks employs over 200 people, with most being in the Akron area. It was started in 1997 with the acquisition of a small van-modifying business that had only a handful of people and grew from there. We are now the largest modifier of wheelchair vans in the U.S. commercial van market and the largest providers of accessible minivans in the consumer market. In both cases, we are seen as a leader in the industry in promoting the requirement of quality-tested products and local certified technicians. We have helped to transform an industry that only a decade ago had no accreditation process of its dealers. The result has been a significant improvement in the quality and reliability of accessible vehicles for physically challenged individuals and in giving them more choices about what kind of vehicle they want to ride in.

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