SOURCE: Avaya Inc.

Avaya Inc.

January 25, 2010 10:27 ET

Avaya Delivers Customer Service Excellence for Whirlpool Corporation

Appliances Leader Uses Avaya Contact Center Capabilities to Speed Customer Service, Boost Productivity and Reduce Costs by 12 Percent in First Year

BASKING RIDGE, NJ--(Marketwire - January 25, 2010) - Avaya today announced the results of an expansive contact center implementation it delivered for Whirlpool Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. The results discuss benefits gained after Whirlpool integrated the contact centers of an acquired company, streamlined customer service operations, and expanded its home agent program.

Advanced contact center technologies are essential in helping Whirlpool deliver superior customer service consistent with the company's strong brand and reputation. Their agents manage sales inquiries and customer service issues linked to a wide range of brands including KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Brastemp, Consul and Bauknecht. When Whirlpool acquired Maytag Corporation in 2006, the company not only added world-renowned brands -- including Maytag, Jenn-Air and Amana -- it also accepted a new challenge in customer service integration.

Using Avaya contact center solutions, Whirlpool successfully integrated nine contact centers with approximately 1,900 agents on different customer service platforms into one efficient system. According to Whirlpool, this strategy -- along with the addition of call-based routing and the optimization of call times -- yielded significant results including the reduction of costs by 12 percent in year one and 10 percent in year two.

Virtual, Home-Based Agents Drive Greater Productivity

As a first step in the integration of Maytag's customer service operations with Whirlpool and all of its brands, Avaya helped the company seamlessly and cost-effectively consolidate nine contact center locations into just four -- and implemented an expansive home-based agent strategy.

Using Avaya technology, Whirlpool allowed its most productive agents to work from a home office, an incentive that helped the company retain its best employees. Whirlpool also extended the work-from-home option to agents with 6 to 12 months of experience in a contact center, resulting in lower turnover rates among home agents.

A more streamlined and virtualized contact center operation -- backed by an Avaya Communication Manager IP telephony platform -- helped Whirlpool boost productivity among agents. Whirlpool home-based agents took up to eight more calls per day than those in traditional office locations. Furthermore, due to the flexible capabilities of the Avaya solution, agents using laptops could manage customer communications from virtually any location, allowing them to maintain business continuity, even in emergency situations.

"Avaya provided Whirlpool with the flexibility to allow our best agents to work remotely, reducing employee turnover and keeping our most seasoned agents on staff," said Kathy Nelson, vice president, Customer and Appliance Care. "After implementing Avaya, we're now able to allow one-third of our call center agents to work from home."

The Right Agent at the Right Time & Location

Whirlpool gained significantly on the customer satisfaction front due to a call routing design created by Avaya Professional Services. The various requests that come into Whirlpool contact centers require fast routing to the appropriate agent, and Avaya ensured customers reached the right agents more quickly, regardless of location. By more effectively matching agents with consumer questions, Whirlpool decreased hold times, with 75 percent of calls answered within one minute.

"The Avaya Professional Services team has been invaluable in helping us create and update a routing system that works at every level," added Nelson. "It is designed to make sure that a person with the right skill gets each call. This supports our commitment to eliminate repeat calls, transfers, complaints and escalations."

Whirlpool's contact center implementation was put to the 'ultimate test,' according to Nelson, when a tornado occurred in Tennessee and a blizzard hit Michigan -- two of their primary locations.

"We were amazed at how well we came through a day of weather disasters at two of our locations," said Nelson. "We were able to re-route calls to the unaffected sites and to our home-based agents, without requiring extra help from carriers. As a result, we saw virtually no effect from the disasters. Without Avaya contact center technology, it would have taken us days to recover."

Whirlpool's contact center operations won several prestigious awards from the International Quality and Productivity Center, including Best Call Center Culture and Best Use of Technology. Additionally, the company reported that customer satisfaction improved from the prior year, reinforcing that the integration of Whirlpool and Maytag's customer service operations not only went smoothly, but also enhanced experiences for customers.

The Avaya applications, systems and services involved in this implementation include: Avaya Communication Manager; Avaya Professional Services, Avaya one-X Agent, Business Advocate; Avaya Call Management System; and Avaya Modular Messaging.

About Avaya

Avaya is a global leader in enterprise communications systems. The company provides unified communications, contact centers, and related services directly and through its channel partners to leading businesses and organizations around the world. Enterprises of all sizes depend on Avaya for state-of-the-art communications that improve efficiency, collaboration, customer service and competitiveness. For more information please visit www.avaya.com.

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