With a partner network across Canada, Invacare is responsible for providing support and education in all provinces and territories. And while their technical education team was successfully teaching their partners how to service, repair and maintain their products, the associated costs and travel time were becoming excessive.
“We have customers all across Canada, from downtown Toronto to Alberta to the Northwest Territories," says Rick Alves, Technical Education and Services Manager at Invacare. “Explaining complex components or demonstrating how products work is difficult if you're not directly onsite with the partner, so we had to set up regular in-person demonstrations."
While Invacare did attempt to minimize travel expenses by hosting education sessions at central locations for the surrounding partners, some would inevitably be unable to attend or would need an additional one-on-one session. This meant that the flights, hotel rooms, conference rooms, rental cars and other expenses could quickly get out of hand.
And for Alves personally, the travel time would often conflict with, and prevent him from focusing on, his second responsibility: managing the Invacare IT department.
Now, the experience at the Invacare headquarters as well as its partner locations across Canada is more seamlessly connected. Employees and partners are able to communicate more efficiently, and travel costs are down.
“With the IFPD and built-in camera, we can now effortlessly host a remote training session and do a high-level introduction of a product or troubleshoot with a partner," explains Alves. “It is also helpful that we can blow up the screen if the partner has a camera, so we can see what they're doing and help with a specific issue. This has really cut down on our travel time."
The company is also experimenting with using the IFPD to record and upload videos for their partners who lack high-speed internet access.
And at Invacare headquarters, the IFPD has also made a significant impact on the day-to-day experience of employees and managers.
“It's made some of our board meetings more interactive, while the touch and drag-and-drop capabilities means they're simpler as well," says Alves. “Plus, I now have more time to devote to managing the IT department."
“One of the features we use most is actually the mobile stand. It allows us to take a 75-inch screen and move it from one location to another. We've already used it in the lounge, showroom and boardroom. The portability is so convenient," said Alves.
Invacare has hopes of using the IFPD on the road in the near future, as well.
“We see the potential for using this at tradeshows soon," says Alves. “We'd love to engage attendees by using the IFPD to showcase our website, or high definition videos of our products."
With the partner education issue at the back of their minds, the team at Invacare visited Ricoh's Customer Experience Centre (CEC) in North Toronto – not initially to solve this problem, but instead to tour the upgraded printer models they had recently purchased from Ricoh as part of a separate agreement.
During their tour of the CEC, Invacare was introduced to the New World of Work and Executive Board Room demo rooms. They were immediately impressed with the Interactive Flat Panel Displays (IFPDs), and saw the potential for improving their partner education with this cutting-edge technology.
“When we saw the IFPDs, we knew they would be the right fit for our organization," explains Alves. “We wanted to improve our service offerings to our partner network across the country, and this was the answer."
After some additional visits to the CEC, Invacare signed on for Ricoh's mid-size meeting bundle: an IFPD, Logitech® Meet Up Camera, LG™ Microphone, as well as Windows® 10 Controller and 25 Ricoh Unified Communication System (UCS) licenses.
Acting essentially as a large touchscreen, the IFPD's ability to provide remote collaboration, display complex graphics and important documents, and show precise details via remote conferencing appealed to Invacare's desire to improve the experience for their partners while ultimately cutting down on travel costs.
“We thought the CEC was rather impressive," says Alves. “It has a little bit of everything. We saw different incarnations of the IFPDs, some as fixed units on the wall and others with the portability we took advantage of. It was helpful seeing all of the products set up and in use."