A Columbus company is making it easier for new parents to be much more confident when installing their child’s car seat.

Dorel Juvenile, a Columbus-based car seat manufacturing company, has a new video chat program designed to return to the days of face-to-face customer service while also enhancing children’s vehicle safety.

Using only an iPad and a smartphone, Dorel developed a customer service program over the summer that allows consumers to call into the manufacturing headquarters in Columbus and speak with a trained professional who can answer questions about the proper way to install a car seat.

“We want to help them get to know the seats better,” said Rebekah Pacey, one of eight Dorel employees trained for the video chat program.

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The employees answer any car seat-related question for any of the car seat brands Dorel produces, including Cosco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, Maxi-Cosi and Disney Baby.

They are also trained to advise on mechanical differences in the seats, such as whether a child should be rear- or front-facing, or whether the straps should go over the shoulder or the lap.

Each year, about 70 percent of car seats are either improperly installed or are used when they no longer should be, said Michelle Williams, the program’s creator.

Most of those errors are accidental, she said, caused by an adult who does not understand the proper way to use today’s technologically-advanced seats.

“Car seats are not really juvenile products,” Williams said. “They’re made for kids, but adults are the ones who install them.”

In just the four months since it began, the response from adults needing help with their car seats has been overwhelming, Williams said. In fact, the eight representatives have created an appointment- only system to adjust to the large number of customers seeking help.

“We were hoping we’d start with a steady stream, but it’s been a whole fire hose,” Williams said.

Right now, the eight employees use two iPads and two on-site locations to speak with customers about car seat troubles, Williams said. But soon, the program will need to expand, she said.

“We’re prepared to make the necessary investments,” she said. “Dorel is completely supportive of the program.”

Ideally, Williams said, she’d like to see one or two employees working on the video chats full time, making it easier for customers to get help in emergency situations.

For now, Williams said, the program is in the pilot stage, so she wants to watch its growth and progress before making any long-term decisions.

But even if the video chat program explodes into a round-the-clock operation, Williams said she does not want the representatives to lose sight of their purpose.

The program is not just about pleasing customers to increase sales, she said. It is about returning to days gone by, when a consumer could simply walk up to a merchant and ask for help without jumping through hoops to get there.

“The milkman doesn’t come to your door anymore. No one puts your gas in your car,” Williams said. “We’re trying to bring back that face-to-face customer experience.”

How to use the video chat system

What you’ll need:

  1. A car seat or booster seat
  2. A car
  3. A smartphone
  4. An account with FaceTime or Skype

To use the video chat customer service system:

  1. Get to know the car seat or booster seat as well as possible, then make a list of what you don’t understand.
  2. Call Dorel Juvenile at 800-544-1108 to schedule an appointment.
  3. Prepare questions, being as specific as possible.
  4. Call the number given to you at the time of the appointment and have the car seat on-hand, ready to be installed.
  5. Follow along with the representative as he/she explains how to install the seat.
  6. Ask follow-up questions to ensure child safety.

Most common car seat mistakes
  1. Purchasing a used car seat without researching it first.
  2. Placing the car seat in the wrong spot in the car.
  3. Using a car seat as a crib.
  4. Installing a car seat or buckling a child incorrectly.
  5. Reclining the seat at the wrong angle.
  6. Switching to a forward-facing seat too soon.
  7. Dressing a child in bulky outerwear.
  8. Moving to a booster seat too soon.
  9. Using a booster seat incorrectly.
  10. Using a vehicle safety belt too soon.

Source: mayoclinic.org

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.