Whirlpool's Customer Service Strategy: Know What Makes Your Customers Mad

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
Today is the first day of Frost & Sullivan's Customer Contact East conference, where contact center executives and customer relationship experts converge. This morning, Lynn Holmgren, national director of Whirlpool's customer care operations, shared some of her experiences. Her theme was to know your customers, and understand their satisfaction threshold. She called it the "customer pissometer."

Today is the first day of Frost & Sullivan's Customer Contact East conference, where contact center executives and customer relationship experts converge. This morning, Lynn Holmgren, national director of Whirlpool's customer care operations, shared some of her experiences. Her theme was to know your customers and understand their satisfaction threshold. She called it the "customer pissometer.""What will make your customers mad," she asked the audience. Obviously, it's different for every company. At Whirlpool, she says that customers don't mind waiting up to a minute to get to a live agent on the phone, as long as their situation is resolved in the first call. Holmgren also knows that transfers between departments and multiple technician visits edge the "pissometer" up the spectrum. By understanding a customer's satisfaction threshold, a company can balance a positive customer experience by keeping efficiency and effectiveness. She does recommend, however, that these interactions all have a compound effect, so understanding a customer's interaction history goes a long way to keep the meter reading low.

In another example, Holmgren explained that many people call into Whirlpool's customer care center with reports of a broken appliance. Their description of the problem usually involves the customer's best impression of how the broken washing machine or dishwasher sounds. So Whirlpool worked with RightNow to add an FAQ and sound bites to its website so customers could match their noises to a particular problem and identify it.

"A positive customer care experience leads to a higher likelihood of customers engaging in loyalty behaviors," she said.

On a related note, Holmgren discusses Whirlpool's Customer Bill of Rights, employee empowerment, and its Gold Ring Promise in the Spring 2009 issue of 1to1 Magazine.

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