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WHIRLPOOL CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE SERVICE

 WHIRLPOOL CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE SERVICE
 BENTON HARBOR, Mich., Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR), world's largest manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, marks a major consumer service milestone this year with the 25th anniversary of its toll-free telephone service for consumers.
 Whirlpool was the first U.S. company to offer its customers this service, according to AT&T records. The unprecedented idea for consumer service originally was dubbed the Cool-Line, a name that stuck until 1990 when it was changed to the Whirlpool Consumer Assistance Center.
 "The Whirlpool Cool-Line was initiated soon after AT&T launched its 800-number service back in 1967," noted Carolyn Verweyst, manager, marketing communications for Whirlpool Appliance Group, "and during its first year, over 10,000 people took advantage of this unique new service."
 "Twenty-five years later, over 300 trained consumer consultants field that many calls in a single day from owners and prospective owners of WHIRLPOOL, ROPER and KITCHENAID brand appliances," said Verweyst. "And the total number of calls handled annually is expected to skyrocket from about 3 million in 1992 to over 9 million in 1995."
 This projection of continued dramatic growth should surprise no one, said Verweyst, who noted that during the first 20 years of service, the number of Cool-Line calls rose from 10,000 to 700,000 per year -- but by 1992, had more than quadrupled to nearly 3 million calls.
 And, she added, "In all the years we've offered this service, substantially less than 10 percent of all calls received have involved customer complaints."
 HELPING CUSTOMERS 'KEEP THEIR COOL'
 "Whirlpool originally launched its new service to help its customers 'keep their cool,' -- and that led to the 'Cool-Line' name," explained Verweyst. "A handful of service technicians at Whirlpool headquarters in Benton Harbor answered calls on standard telephones between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Michigan time, relying on personal experience, plus a huge library of product literature and parts manuals, to provide answers to consumer questions about Whirlpool appliances," she added.
 Today, Whirlpool serves callers in North America, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands from two Consumer Assistance Centers (the Cool-Line moniker was retired in 1990) -- one in Benton Harbor, the other in Knoxville, Tenn. -- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing a wide range of special services for owners and potential owners of WHIRLPOOL, KITCHENAID and ROPER brand home appliances, as well as for the retail dealers and home builders who buy and sell the products.
 Callers can get pre-buy product information, the names of their nearest dealer or service company, and installation, do-it-yourself repair and operating instructions. They also can order replacement parts, product literature and a wide range of accessories.
 HELPING CUSTOMERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
 Also offered are special services to help meet the needs of customers with various life-limiting physical disabilities -- or, as they're referred to at Whirlpool, "customers with special needs." Services include a wide variety of specially prepared booklets, manuals and product accessories, all of which are available free of charge.
 NEW TECHNOLOGY, WITH EMPHASIS ON SERVICE
 Whirlpool has invested literally millions of dollars to build and improve facilities, design better systems, purchase state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and train its personnel. The system utilizes state-of-the-art telecommunications and computer technology to support levels of consumer service never before possible, and currently unequalled in the industry.
 FULLY INTEGRATED SYSTEMS
 The two centers -- Benton Harbor and Knoxville -- are fully integrated and share common systems throughout. Each is equipped to back up the other in case of emergency, and both are "transparent" to callers, meaning callers don't know whether they're talking to consultants in Benton Harbor or Knoxville.
 AT&T DEFINITY COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM
 A new AT&T Definity(R) Communications System integrates and controls all telecommunications between the two centers, allowing instant transfer of calls between consultants or to a supervisor, a technician, or the other center. The caller's area code determines which center receives the call. If one center is unusually busy, or experiencing a power outage or other emergency, the system automatically redirects calls to the other center to ensure prompt handling.
 APPLIANCE DIAGNOSTICS
 A special computer-driven appliance diagnostics system helps Whirlpool consultants quickly diagnose product problems. A series of pre-determined questions leads the caller and consultant through a process that accurately diagnoses the problem and determines whether the situation permits a do-it-yourself repair or requires the attention of a trained service technician.
 IMAGE RETRIEVAL SYSTEM
 Additionally, a new computer-based image retrieval system gives consultants instant access to detailed, accurate information on virtually every WHIRLPOOL, KITCHENAID and ROPER brand product marketed in the United States during the last two decades. Available data include over 150,000 pages of pre-buy, use and care, installation, and service information previously available only on paper or microfiche.
 Whirlpool Corporation was founded in 1911 in St. Joseph, Mich. The company today manufactures products in 11 countries and markets products under 10 major brand names in more than 90 countries.
 Toll-free Consumer Assistance Lines are:
 WHIRLPOOL brand appliances -- 1-800-253-1301
 KITCHENAID brand appliances -- 1-800-422-1230
 ROPER brand appliances -- 1-800-447-6737
 -0- 8/25/92
 /CONTACT: Carolyn Verweyst, 616-927-7200, or Debbie Reinhardt, 616-926-3220, both of Whirlpool/
 (WHR T) CO: Whirlpool Corporation; AT&T ST: Michigan IN: TLS HOU SU:


SB -- DE014 -- 2989 08/25/92 11:23 EDT
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Date:Aug 25, 1992
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