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How Digital Innovation Helped Whirlpool Create Seamless CX and a Connected Field Team

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“The impact of Covid across the world gave us the opportunity to completely rethink how we delivered customer care as well as communicating with our engineers in the field visiting customers' homes. WhatsApp provided the perfect solution for both of these issues and meant we could continue to meet our care targets despite the extreme circumstances
we were operating under.”

Taylor Mumby, Customer Service & OMNI Channel Business Manager, Whirlpool UK

The Brand:

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Whirlpool Corporation is the world’s leading kitchen and laundry appliance company with nearly 80,000 employees worldwide. Customer service, warranty planning and field services are the foundations of Whirlpool’s dedication to its customers’ post-purchase experience for all its brands including Hotpoint, Indesit, Whirlpool and KitchenAid.

Whirlpool prides itself on delivering outstanding customer experiences across all of its brands. It’s at the core of their business culture and operational model.

The Challenge:

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The majority of Whirlpool’s employees in the UK are deployed in the field either to deliver new appliances or for in-home repairs of existing products. Covid-19 brought a huge challenge; continuing to provide this service without any reduction in quality of care.

In-home visits continued but were carried out under strict social distancing rules and the 500 strong contact center was closed. It meant the customer service team were unable to rely on the telephony systems to communicate with both customers and engineers in the field. On top of this, in the four month period following the first lockdown announcement, there was a 106% year-on-year increase in inbound customer inquiries.

The Solution:

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Whirlpool approached Conversocial for a solution that helped tackle both the volume of customer inquiries and the increased demands of a newly home working workforce.

As a channel familiar to customers and engineers, Whirlpool set up WhatsApp Business accounts for two main audiences: one for field technicians to provide assistance to engineers in the field undertaking repairs and the other focused on customers needing to request an in-home repair appointment - adding automation to help customers self-serve or escalate for warranty repair requests.

The customer-facing WhatsApp account saw the number of conversations treble in the early days of the first national lockdown after being added to the website’s ‘Contact Us’ page. Whirlpool also simultaneously reduced mentions of its phone number for all brands to move inbound call volume from voice to WhatsApp Business.

 

The appointment booking bot achieved an average containment rate of 27%, meaning more than ¼ of inbound inquiries were not escalated to contact center agents.

 

 

The Business Impact:

For Customers

1. Efficient Booking Process: The appointment booking bot achieved an average containment rate of 27%, meaning more than ¼ of inbound inquiries were not escalated to contact center agents.

2. Round the Clock Availability: Automation allows customers to arrange their own bookings outside of office hours. With WhatsApp bots appointments can be cancelled or amended all within the channel 24 hours a day.

3. Quicker Resolution: Average call times for issues that began using WhatsApp were 33 seconds shorter than those that were purely phone calls. Utilizing automation, Whirlpool were able to collect key information for agents ahead of speaking to the customer, leading to swifter resolutions.

 

 

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For Field Engineers

1. HQ Communications Simplified: Engineers are able to send images and videos over WhatsApp to support staff in HQ whilst on home visits. Before private messaging channels were launched, email was the only solution for this and wasn’t widely used. WhatsApp now allows for more efficient conversations between engineers and Whirlpool HQ for suggestions and solutions, which has been especially helpful for newer engineers encountering issues they hadn’t seen before.

2. Prior Case Referencing: The asynchronous nature of WhatsApp gives Whirlpool’s field engineers access to every interaction between them and agents at HQ. Any fault they have previously encountered has a ready and waiting solution to refer back to all within the app. It’s helped reduce the number of calls between engineers and support agents by essentially providing a solutions channel for reference whenever they need it, rather than relying on single interaction phone calls.

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The Future:

Whirlpool is looking to expand its integration of WhatsApp into customer interactions in 2021, with two key goals:

1. Complex Conversations: Move beyond initial bot capabilities such as appointment booking and information gathering, to implement more Natural Language Understanding (NLU) into the company’s CX strategy. It will mean the bots are able to identify the specific intent of a customer and route the conversation into the right flow, adding an extra layer of seamless automation to customer conversations.

2. Proactive Notifications: Reaching out to customers over WhatsApp requesting pre-appointment information. By engaging ahead of the engineer visit, it will allow Whirlpool to pre-order any spare parts that may be required, with the aim that most appliances will be repaired on the first visit.

 

“The initial integration of WhatsApp into our CX operation has changed how we approach customer conversations. We want to make digital platforms like WhatsApp our customers’ preferred and most used method of contact when getting in touch with our technical team to improve the scope and quality of the experiences for both the Whirlpool customer and us as a company."

 

Taylor Mumby, Customer Service & OMNI Channel Business Manager, Whirlpool UK

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