Tell the ITC what you think

Notice of Commission Determination to Review the Final Initial Determination of the Administrative Law Judge; Schedule for Filing Written Submissions on Review

Good news!

The ITC has unanimously decided to review ALJ Rogers' initial determination. The commission is asking Align some tough questions, and we're optimistic that they'll end up deciding in our favor (like they did last time).

In the meantime, the ITC wants to hear from "interested parties" about whether granting Align's request to block us from using imported data would serve the public interest:

If the Commission contemplates some form of remedy, it must consider the effects of that remedy upon the public interest. The factors the Commission will consider include the effect that an exclusion order and/or cease and desist orders would have on (1) the public health and welfare, (2) competitive conditions in the U.S. economy, (3) U.S. production of articles that are like or directly competitive with those that are subject to investigation, and (4) U.S. consumers. The Commission is therefore interested in receiving written submissions that address the aforementioned public interest factors in the context of this investigation.

This is a unique opportunity to make your voice heard. Send your thoughts to itc@clearcorrect.com by August 6, 2013, and we'll pass them along to the ITC.

Thanks for your support.

Sincerely,

Jarrett Pumphrey, CEO

So you've been accused of IP infringement...

As we've experienced firsthand, it's pretty lousy to be accused of IP infringement when it's not true. OXO, the New York-based consumer product design company best known for its popular kitchen utensils, provides a master class in how to respond to such accusations the right way: http://www.oxo.com/quirkyresponse.aspx.

(via: Jason Fried, 37signals)

Align's lawsuit against ClearCorrect stayed indefinitely

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the legal proceedings between us and Align. Don’t let the lack of updates fool you—all is progressing well. In fact, I’m very happy to say I’ve got some great news to share with you.

First, a refresher: Align sued us in February, 2011, alleging we infringed several of their patents. We’ve said all along that we don’t infringe any of their valid intellectual property and countersued them in May, 2011, asking the Court to declare the claims in their patents invalid.

Now, fast-forward a year. Just this past May, our legal team filed a motion with the US District Court to stay the case when Align filed overlapping complaints with the International Trade Commission (ITC), the agency responsible for regulating the trade of international goods. Despite Align’s objections, the Court recently ruled in our favor and granted the motion, effectively stopping the case indefinitely and virtually guaranteeing we can continue operating our US-based manufacturing facility without restriction for the foreseeable future.

Needless to say, this is a big win for us. We can now take attention off the federal case and put it on what really matters to us—servicing our providers and helping others where we can.

Next up for our legal team is making our case to the ITC. Bolstered by this win in the US District Court, we’re as confident as ever that we’ll see similar success in the international arena. We'll, of course, keep you posted as that case proceeds. 

Thank you so much for your continued support. I can't possibly express what a difference it's made.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask. I’m happy to answer them.

A new year. A new project.

Five years ago, we started ClearCorrect out of a passion to help. Doctors had no choice in clear aligners, and we wanted to change that.

Since then, we've remained focused on changing the clear aligner industry.

Well, now our ambitions have grown.

I’m very happy to announce Phase Out, a new ClearCorrect project we’re kicking off this year.

The purpose of this project: To change the world.

We’ve created a special place on the Internet for Phase Out where you can learn all about it, stay updated, and get involved. Please check it out and let us know your thoughts.

This is something we’re excited and passionate about. We're just getting started, but we think it can be big. I hope you’ll share in our excitement and tell at least one person about what we’re doing. Together, we’ll help a lot of people.

Here's to a happy and giving New Year. 

Steve Jobs

You inspired us.

You empowered us.

You moved us.

You reinvented & revolutionized us.

You delighted us.

You've changed us. Forever.  

Thank you. We'll miss you.

Core value #3: Be open & transparent

Trust depends on openness, respect and humanity.*

—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author

*Excerpt from “My challenge to you: only speak like a human at work

We’re lucky. We get to be something many companies don’t—we get to be real people.

Real people have names and faces. They have friends and families, real lives full of real life. They matter. They have something worth working for.

Real people aren’t perfect. They have flaws. They make mistakes and learn from them. They improve. They have something worth striving for.

Real people have opinions and values, something to speak up about. They agree with some and disagree with others. They have something worth standing for.

And real people have hopes and dreams. They have faith. They have passion. They have a certainty anything is possible. They have something worth fighting for.

There’s a lot of worth in being real, down-to-earth, shamelessly genuine people. We can count ourselves among them as long as we're open and transparent. 

So let's show the world who we really are. People will trust and respect us more when they see we’re real people—no different than them.

Core value #2: Be passionate

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
—Mark Twain

We’ve measured it. We’ve weighed it. We’ve counted and quantified it. And if the bumps and bruises weren’t proof enough, we’ve now settled it.

We’ve got fight.

It turns out, our fight is an old-school model—vintage. It’s larger than most you’ll see today. Solid and well-built, from a time before they started making them all plastic and compact. It runs a little loud. It runs a little rough. But it’ll plow over anything in its path.

Our fight will take us wherever we want to go. We just have to fuel it. Lucky for us, it runs on something cheaper than gasoline and in far greater supply: passion.

So let’s top off the tank and go for a ride. With a fight our size, no one can stop us.

Creating a league of extraordinary reps

Meet Marvin

Marvin is the not-so-mild mannered alter ego of one of our real-life account reps. Many of our doctors may recognize Marvin from the recent mailers we’ve been sending out to introduce him and the other superheroes we’ve added to our team of reps.

Marvin is service personified. He represents the months of work we’ve dedicated to completely transforming our customer service department from an inbound, reactive call center to a proactive league of extraordinary account reps, focused and driven by service.

It’s been a huge undertaking for us, and we’ve still got a ways to go (our heroes haven’t mastered all of their powers yet), but I thought before we announced our next value, this would be a perfect opportunity to share what we’ve been up to and to highlight just one way we’ve been injecting our first core value into one of the most important parts of our company.

Holy crappy service, Marvin!

Several months ago, we had one of the best realizations we’ve ever had: our customer service sucked. It hadn’t always sucked, but it sucked then. Phone calls were going unanswered. Messages weren’t being returned. And our doctors were having a harder time than they should have been.

Our initial response to this realization was MORE. More reps, more managers, more shifts, more phone lines, more computers, more technology, more, more, more. That helped for a little while, but just a little while.

The problem was in our customer service model. Something like a tier-based system, we had “specialists” dedicated to handling various parts of a doctor’s account: If you needed some shipping supplies, you’d call rep A; needed to check on a case, you’d call rep B; had some technical questions, you’d call rep C. The result for our doctors wasn’t a pleasant one. Callers would get bounced around and end up disgruntled, thinking the right hand didn’t know squat about the left. The model was broken, and what had only kind of worked with 1,000 doctors wasn’t scaling well at 10,000. Adding more of what wasn’t working wasn’t the solution.

After our legs stopped swinging from that initial knee jerk, we came up with a better response: CHANGE.

We looked back in our short history for the time we had serviced our doctors the best. It didn’t take long to find it; all the stats and feedback pointing to it made it easy to spot once we were willing to look.

It turns out, believe it or not, we delivered our best customer service when we had a single, solitary rep. Just one. She had no fancy technology, just a notepad for tracking stuff. When doctors called, they could easily reach her. She had no elevated tier to defer to; she had to learn everything so she could answer anything. We had considerably fewer doctors back then, numbers she could manage on her own and numbers that allowed her to forge lasting relationships, many of which continue today, years later. She was passionate about service, and she did whatever it took to make sure her doctors were happy.

She was our first superhero, the prototype. And if we were really going to make a change that worked, we’d need to get her back in a cape.

Splicing Marvin with the prototypical genome

Her name is Carrie. She used to be our one and only account rep, and now she’s back leading the project determined to mutate Marvin into a service-driven hero. Taking her successful actions from the past and scaling them up to work with more reps and more doctors, we’ve been making changes bit by bit. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Doctors have dedicated reps.
    There’s no more bouncing around. Just as it was with doctors who depended on Carrie, doctors now have just one person they can call, one person they can know by name, one person they can depend on for anything and everything.

  • Reps have dedicated teams for support.
    Carrie’s support team was just me, but she had one nonetheless. Now, once again, if a doctor’s rep is unavailable for any reason, a team member familiar with his or her account can step in and assist if needed.

  • Reps have fewer doctors.
    We’ve reduced the number of doctors per rep by nearly 80%, down to the range Carrie was handling. Reps are now free enough to give their doctors more time and attention.

  • Reps work when their doctors work.
    Back when Carrie was a rep, most of our doctors were based in Texas, so she was working when they were. With doctors now scattered across the US, having reps just work 9 – 5 CST doesn’t cut it. Reps are assigned doctors by time zone and they work 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (at least) for whatever time zone their doctors are working in.

  • Reps are trained better. 
    Carrie had been with ClearCorrect from the beginning. She had seen every version of our products and every iteration of our processes. That’s a lot of knowledge. New reps now receive the most comprehensive internal training we’ve ever had on our products or our processes. They may not be able to answer every question just yet, but we’re working on it.

  • Reps live and breathe service.
    Carrie was driven by a pure passion to serve. It’s the same for our reps now. They’re there to help their doctors, not push for sales. They’re free to take as much time as they need and do just about anything to ensure their doctors are happy and satisfied with our products.

So far, the changes are working well and the feedback from our doctors is positive. Carrie won’t be hanging up her cape just yet as there’s a bit more to do, but now Marvin and the other superheroes on our team are flying in the right direction, and they’re gaining speed.

We’ve learned a lot about what it really means to be service-driven over the course of this project, and we expect to learn quite a bit more. I hope this inside look at one way we've approached being service-driven has been helpful or at least interesting.

Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or even your own service-driven experiences with us in the comments.

Core value #1: Be service-driven

We’re a service company that just happens to sell shoes.
—Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com

We’ve got a secret.  Despite popular belief, we’re not in the aligner business.  We deal in a rare and valuable commodity. It’s the one thing everyone wants, the one thing no one can get enough of.  It never fades or goes out of style; versions of it from the ’70s and ’80s still look good today.  And while it’s always in high demand, it’s often in short supply. 

We deal in service. 

Now, there are varieties of service:  There’s crappy service.  We don’t touch the stuff.  There’s so-so service.  The market’s saturated with it, so we don’t sell it.  There’s good service.  Most people looking for service expect to find at least this one, so we keep some on hand.  And then there’s exceptional service, the brand that excites and surprises.  We can’t stock it fast enough!

See, this secret means that no matter what else we sell—right now it just happens to be aligners—there will always be someone out there who wants what we’ve got. 

All we have to do is deliver it with service.

ClearCorrect core values

When we started ClearCorrect, there were just a handful of us.  We knew who we wanted to be and what we wanted to stand for.  It was simple. 

As we’ve grown, maintaining that sense of identity has become more and more challenging.  New employees, new opportunities, even new customers have all brought their own ideas and their own values to the table.  It’s gotten complicated.

Complicated isn’t good for anyone, so we’re simplifying things again.

We recently took pen to paper and defined the core values that make us who we are, the values we believed in when we started the company.  There are nine of them.  We haven’t always exemplified them, but now that we’ve defined them, all of us here at ClearCorrect—and there are a lot of us here these days—can embrace them with the same passion and commitment we had when it was just a few of us.

To celebrate this milestone, we’ll be rolling out our newly defined core values, one value at a time.  Every week or so, we’ll post the value itself and a slew of other posts related to the value, including some behind-the-scenes looks at exactly how we’re injecting that value into everything we do.

We’re kicking it off next week with the first of the nine, so be sure to check back then.  We've got some good stuff planned...