By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
HDIS stands for Home Delivery Incontinence Supplies, but you won’t find the name spelled out on any of the thousands of orders the company fills every month.
The 28-year-old company goes out of its way to make sure customers aren’t embarrassed by products they need to cope with their medical conditions. It sends orders in plain brown boxes. In some cases, it turns manufacturers’ cartons inside out to camouflage the contents.
“We are passionate about treating customers with compassion” and creating a long-term relationship, said Stacy L. Davis, vice president of operations. HDIS handles about 90,000 calls a month.
Owner Bruce Grench started HDIS after selling incontinence supplies to nursing homes for Procter & Gamble. He believed customers needed more information and a better selection to find the right products for their needs.
Customers who call HDIS are guided through an assessment, and the company sends free samples and information to new customers. Call center employees don’t follow a script, and there’s no time limit on calls. If a customer doesn’t have a credit card, HDIS will send a bill instead.
“That really builds trust right up front,” said Jennifer Hendricks, vice president of human resources.
After customers get their first order, they get a thank-you note from the HDIS representative who handled their call. The customer also gets a follow-up phone call to find out if the order met their needs. The same thing happens with the second order, Davis said.
Employees also send hand-signed get well and birthday cards to customers and sympathy cards when a customer or their spouse dies. A quarterly newsletter features articles on employees, ideas for seasonal activities and two columns that answer customers’ questions.
HDIS puts reps through four weeks of training before they start taking calls. The training covers software, products and how to talk to customers. Throughout training, reps sit with an experienced employee on a double-jack hookup, which allows them to listen to calls and gradually take part until they’re handling the calls on their own.
HDIS computers route customers to the same rep every time they call, if at all possible. Many reps develop relationships with customers, and it’s not unusual for customers to send notes or cards expressing their appreciation.
HDIS builds sample packs of various products. For example, it carries 10 different types of briefs, including types for men and women and in three degrees of absorbency. Customers can order a sample pack with two of each to help them determine what works best for them.
In addition to incontinence supplies, HDIS sells diabetes test supplies, aids for daily living and urological supplies.
HDIS has 250 employees at its 200,000-square-foot headquarters in Olivette. About 80 percent are part of the life cycle of an order, Davis said. Separate teams handle private pay, Medicare and Medicaid customers. Call center representatives handle every facet of an order from consultation to invoice questions to returns. They can offer customers a discount on the next order if there’s a problem.
HDIS looks for employees who are empathetic and caring, Hendricks said. Candidates go through phone interviews, two face-to-face interviews and two assessments before they are hired. In a recent round of hiring, only two candidates out of 197 were accepted.
“We really are looking for people who will treat the customer right,” Hendricks said. She said HDIS fosters a culture of caring – for customers and for each other.
The company has service goals and metrics for each department, Davis said. Calls are reviewed and monitored, and if there’s a problem, captured calls provide feedback that can help HDIS or its shippers do better in the future.
HDIS does an annual survey of current, former and potential customers asking how likely they are to recommend the company, whether they had service issues and gauging interest in new products. The company surveys some callers after calls and includes feedback forms in every box and in its catalogs.
An employee committee decides which charities get company donations and selects other charity activities. HDIS teams have participated Komen Race for the Cure, walks to benefit Multiple Sclerosis and food drives for Operation Food Search. In addition, each HDIS employee can take a day with pay every year to volunteer in the community.
HDIS has been selected as one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Top Workplaces for the last three years. It won a “Positive Performer National Award” from Inc. magazine in 1995, and Grench was named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 1999.
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