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CTI eliminates runaround for Whirlpool customers.

On that rainy Sunday when the diswasher stops working and there's not a repairman in sight, you're in luck if the dishwasher comes from Whirlpool. Your first call to Whirlpool's customer service 800 number will put you in touch with a personal representative who can lead you, step by step, through the entire repair process.

When he says "try this and call back" --and you do--he'll be the person who answers your next call...and he will remember you and what you talked about. Throughout the day, and for weeks to follow, each time you call Whirlpool you will be routed automatically to the friend you made on the first call.

Whirlpool makes customer service more like getting help from a neighbor, not an impersonal multinational corporation.

This degree of personal service becomes all the more remarkable when you realize that Whirlpool will receive over 1.6 million calls this year and expects this to grow to nine million calls per year by 1995. But Whirlpool believes that the care a customer receives on a call is often more important in earning long-term loyalty than if the customer didn't need to make that call in the first place. Each call is an opportunity to build a bond of confidence and commitment between Whirlpool and its customer.

Whirlpool has rededicated its entire organization to pursuing excellence in all aspects of customer satisfaction. It undertook the biggest expenditure in customer service technology in its history--more than $20 million invested in new software, networking capabilities and related equipment, services and facilities.

It consolidated 26 district offices into two national customer assistance centers that operate in tandem: a remodeled facility in Benton Harbor, Mich., close to Whirlpool headquarters, and a new center in Knoxville, Tenn., that opened late last year.

Standing behind this exceptional customer service capability is a team of vendors who together provide an integration of existing voice and data processing technologies and resources that is rapidly changing the face of call center operations.

For this project, Whirlpool continued its existing relationships with IBM and AT&T and selected a new player, Aristacom International, Alameda, Calif., to provide the voice/data integration applications that enable computers and switching systems to function as a cohesive single environment.

Whirlpool stores and processes its data on multiple IBM 3090 mainframes running CICS, a transaction processing system. An AT&T Definity Communications System Generic 2 PBX resides at each of the two service center sites and they process calls in tandem. The G2s use AT&T's ASAI protocol to enable two-way communications between the computer and switches. Aristacom provides the gateway that links the switch and computer and translates information to and from ASAI and SNA formats as necessary.

SCIL*Link Intelligent Call Processing software resides on the mainframe. SCIL*Link, working with Whirlpool's existing database and customer service applications, manipulates voice and data so a customer's call gets linked with his or her data and then both are simultaneously and automatically routed to the correct service person.

It works like this: As a call comes in, the caller's phone number, provided via AT&T's ANI (automatic number identification service) are sent by the switch to the computer.

The software pulls the caller's records and checks them for special service needs such as identification of the service rep the caller talked with last time. The computer tells the switch where to send the call and prepares pertinent data records to go along.

The call and the data are then released almost simultaneously so the service rep receives them together. This usually happens within one or two phone rings.

The service rep no longer hears the frequent complaint, "I already told the other guy what I want--why do I have to do it again?'' The customer's need are addressed quickly and intelligently, and he or she makes a new friend in the process.

And Whirlpool? They're just growing and getting better all the time--thanks in part to computer-telephone integration.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:computer-telephone integration in customer service
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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