A.O. Smith dedicates customer care facility

ASHLAND CITY, TENN. Saying that it is one company that takes customer service seriously, A. O. Smith Water Products Co. on July 17 officially opened a new a 20,000-sq.-ft. facility here that will provide technical support, training and service to customers for A.O. Smith, State, Apollo and Maytag brand water heaters. We believe that customer service and technical support can be real differentiators,

ASHLAND CITY, TENN. — Saying that it is one company that takes customer service seriously, A. O. Smith Water Products Co. on July 17 officially opened a new a 20,000-sq.-ft. facility here that will provide technical support, training and service to customers for A.O. Smith, State, Apollo and Maytag brand water heaters.

“We believe that customer service and technical support can be real differentiators,” said Bob O’Toole, chairman and CEO of A.O. Smith Corp., at the dedication ceremony.

Ron Massa, president of A. O. Smith Water Products, added: “We are committed to providing all of our customers with the best value in residential and commercial water heaters, and outstanding service is a key element of the value equation. We combined the best aspects of A.O. Smith and State Industries’ customer support infrastructures, and the result is a facility that is unique in the industry.”

A.O. Smith acquired State Industries last year (October 2001, pg. 1). Earlier this year, A.O. Smith moved its headquarters from Irving, Texas, to State’s facility in Ashland City (June, pg. 8). The extensively refurbished customer care facility previously had been used for storage by State Industries and, before that, the building had been owned by Acme Boot Co.

The new customer care facility consolidates functions that previously had been housed in Texas and elsewhere. The center includes:

-A technical support call center that handles inquiries regarding selection, installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting for residential and commercial water heaters;

-A training center for plumbing contractors, wholesaler personnel, engineers and service agents.

The company will begin to offer classes and seminars in spring 2003, and also plans to expand A.O. Smith and State field training programs;

-Distribution services to support the company’s diverse customer base;

-Warranty/service administration;

-Order entry and customer contact activities.

The call centers are designed to handle the nearly 60,000 monthly telephone calls generated through the 15 separate toll-free lines that support each residential brand, a plumber’s priority line and a leasing line. To minimize customer confusion, all existing telephone numbers for individual brands remain unchanged.

In addition to telephone calls, the facility is expected to receive 2,000 e-mail inquiries each month, a number that has been growing steadily.

“Using e-mail allows us to quickly provide customers with very detailed installation or trouble-shooting information if needed,” said Roy Wood, director of customer and product support. Response time to e-mail messages has been averaging between eight and 13 minutes, he added.