Working at Kintec has been one of the most relevant jobs to my degree thus far. It isn’t everyday where you are able to provide assistance to a customer that can actually change their life. Needless to say, this job is a lot more than just selling shoes.
Applying for this position, I wasn’t exactly sure what “Pedorthic Assistant” meant. It sounded very professional and I much preferred it to being called a “Shoe Seller”, even if it was simply selling shoes. I was a bit hesitant entering this role since my previous work experience was essentially asking people if they wanted fries with that. In preparation for my interview, I went to the nearest Kintec location and checked them out myself. I walked in and was immediately greeted with a smile and a wave (sun was shining, birds were chirping, it was a good environment). I went up to the fellow co-op student and asked her what exactly a Pedorthic Assistant does. She was happy to explain and spent her time with me doing gait analysis and pointing out key features of a supportive shoe such as heel counter, pitch/drop, torsional stress, cushioning, flex point, tread, etc. Soon after, I had my interview and mentioned my experience at Kintec. My manager seemed impressed and took interest in the lengths I went to in order to understand the position. Going to that extent for my interview is absolutely what helped secure my co-op position at Kintec.
My training at Kintec was definitely a wake-up call as to what I should expect on the floor. It was a long two weeks, filled with: anatomy, gait analysis, customer service, lab training, and administration… I was overwhelmed. Thankfully, the team at Kintec offered their full support and made me feel confident in my decisions. Over time, I was able to come to my own conclusions and provide customer service I was proud of. I can honestly say that anybody working at Kintec will offer the time and energy to ensure you leave a satisfied customer, and that is something I truly value in a company. Kintec makes this clear with their five-step process in a customer interaction:
1. Meet a Fitting Expert
This is the initial interaction between customer and Fitting Expert where I introduce myself. I find out what the customer is in need of, or what their referral is requesting.
2. Tell Us About You
Before I pick a product, I get to know my customer a little better. Even if I am just asking what they do for a living, it will give me a better idea of who they are and what circumstances they physically spend the most time in. Based on their answers and my knowledge of our shoe selection, I later recommend a shoe that will best suit their condition.
3. We Tell You About Your Feet
Kintec offers a free gait analysis. We usually look for indications such as: angle discrepancies between calves and ankle, abduction/adduction of the toes and the valgus/varus angles of the ankles.
4. Together, We Select the Right Shoe
Some shoes have certain aspects about them that will compliment a flat foot or perhaps a high arch. Based on everything I have reviewed with the customer, I collect all of this information and select a shoe.
5. Your Fit Guarantee
Kintec offers a 30-day comfort guarantee. In the event the shoe does not provide the service the customer is looking for, we allow that time to return/exchange.
Once I was comfortable following these guidelines, I realized how well this could build a relationship with a customer and the importance of that. It felt very rewarding watching someone who had walked into the store limping walk out the door perhaps with a bit more spring in their step.
Despite the common misbelief, Kintec helps provide service not just with respect to supportive footwear. Kintec also books appointments for custom orthotics (and custom bracing). The Pedorthist spends an hour doing a variety of tests such as assessing gait, palpating, range of motion, etc. Based on these results, the Pedorthist then takes a cast of the customer’s feet. This cast is made for the production of their orthotics, which are designed to “enhance or restore impaired or missing function in walking” (Matjacic, p. 446). Kintec helps their customers with a variety of other products such as: off the shelf insoles, custom/off the shelf braces, spider tape, calf stretchers, compression socks and other devices that help to limit injury/pain.
With all of these products, there comes certain training necessary to fit them, and Kintec offers a lot of opportunity for growth in this way. For example, you can become a certified compression sock fitter with Sigvaris or a Fitting Expert with regards to custom knee braces and supportive footwear. Another hands-on experience offered at Kintec includes lab modifications done on orthotics/insoles. During my co-op, I learned how to modify and apply metatarsal pads, arch cookies, heel lifts, forefoot extensions, and top covers.
Ultimately, working as a Pedorthic Assistant has given me a better idea of what my degree entails. I’ve learned more about injuries from customer experiences than I have sitting in a lecture hall. Working on the floor at Kintec is where I’ve learned the most, not hovering over a textbook. My work term at Kintec has expanded my knowledge and made me comfortable assessing injuries and offering suggestions to lessen pain. This co-op experience was so much more than selling shoes and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.
Matjacic, Zlatko. Gait analysis and synthesis: Biomechanics, orthotics, prosthetics. 17. 5/6 2009: 445. EBSCO. Web. 14 Aug 2016.
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