I am constantly amazed by companies who try to roll out cool new technology, yet haven’t tested their systems before selling incomplete systems to clients. Usually, these seem to be tech companies, but this time it is a traditional long-time manufacturer – Whirlpool. But the problem wasn’t caused by the hardware – the oven and microwave. Those worked perfectly. It was the system integration – or lack thereof – that caused me untold grief over many weeks. And systems integration means software integration, which means Information Technology.
Time for a new oven/microwave
My wife and I needed to purchase a new oven/microwave combo after our 28-year-old oven quit working. After visiting some retailers, looking at options, and doing extensive research on the Internet, we decided to make an online purchase directly from Whirlpool.
Whirlpool IT win – fantastic web site for pre-purchase activities
Whirlpool had a great web site with excellent information to help us make our choice. The sizing was important since it needed to fit in an existing spot in our kitchen, and the Whirlpool web site made it easy to calculate measurements and determine which model would fit and offer what we needed. In addition, Whirlpool touted their “internet-connected smart oven” that worked with an app on our iPhone’s. While we were not sure how important that feature was, we were intrigued, especially since we were upgrading our house to a smart home.
After purchase, the bad times begin
While the purchasing experience was fantastic, the after-purchase experience has been an absolute disaster.
It all started when I got an email from Whirlpool notifying me that our order had been delayed.
Whirlpool IT Failure #1 – Order status link from Whirlpool email did not point to the correct place on web site
I tried checking online to find the status of our order, but when I clicked on the link in the email that Whirlpool had sent me, the link did not work. It just sent me to the Whirlpool support home page. I was forced to search for an order status
Whirlpool IT Failure #2 – No single sign-on to Whirlpool web site. Multiple logins and passwords required.
I had to wade through three different Whirlpool logins and web sites to track down the status of my order. I guess Whirlpool IT folks never heard of SSO – single sign-on. Every time it sent me to a new Whirlpool URL, I had to create a new user ID and password and rekey all my data in. What a pain.
Whirlpool IT Failure #3 – Difficult to find phone number to call for help
After several days trying to find the status of my now-delayed order, I decided to call their help desk and see if I could track it down. I had to search for about 10 minutes to find how to call support. After finally getting to the Whirlpool support page, I saw that they offered online chat sessions for support. Great, I like chat sessions. They typically are a much faster way to reach tech support people.
Whirlpool IT Failure #4 – Chat session dropped and not reconnected
I opened a chat session and after waiting 20 minutes for someone to answer my chat, I asked a few questions and promptly got disconnected from my agent. I tried opening another chat session. This time it took closer to 40 minutes to get an agent on-line, and once I had them on-line, they were of no help, and said I had to call the help desk to get information. Well over an hour wasted on chat that doesn’t work.
Whirlpool Customer Support Failure #1 – Long, long phone wait times
I finally decided to try the old-fashioned way and dial the phone. My first call required me to wait on hold for 40 minutes. The person who answered my phone call wasn’t able to help, so after 5 minutes of trying to solve my problem, transferred me to another department, where this time I had to hold for nearly an hour before talking to a real person. Of course, this person also wasn’t able to help me and had to transfer me to the “Whirlpool Connected” help desk. Luckily this third wait was fairly short.
Whirlpool IT Failure #5 – Whirlpool web site would not send confirmation email for Whirlpool iPhone app
Once I finally had a technician on the phone that was able to help me, they tried to help me connect my iPhone app to my oven. I had downloaded the Whirlpool app and registered my email in the app to create a user account, but the app would not let me log in until I confirmed my email. The Whirlpool web site was SUPPOSED to send me a confirmation email that I would click on to confirm my email, but it never sent the email. I clicked the button over two dozen times to have the site send me a confirmation email. It never sent me an email. The tech tried to send me a confirmation email. I never got it. I checked my spam filters. I received OTHER emails from Whirlpool, and the tech even sent me an email, but the Whirlpool app that was supposed to send me a link to confirm my email and it just never would send it.
I even called back two days later and STILL had not received the email. The technician tried again, to no avail. We even tried a different email address, and their system just never would send a confirmation email. Finally, the technical contacted “the developers” and had them confirm my account manually. After several days, I was finally able to log into my Whirlpool app on my phone. Unfortunately, my troubles didn’t end here.
Whirlpool IT Failure #6 – Unable to “claim” my oven with iPhone app and register it online for warranty purposes
The next step once I had the Whirlpool app unlocked was to “claim” my oven using the iPhone app. I programmed my oven to recognize my home WiFi network and then used the app to read the bar code presented on the oven display. And waited. And waited. And waited. Finally the app timed out, saying it could not find the oven on the Whirlpool server.
So another call to Whirlpool support. Luckily I was smart enough last time to get a direct number to “Whirlpool Connected Support” so I didn’t have muddle through the normal customer phone system. I was quickly connected and the technician once again walked me through the process – that I had done several times already. After repeated tries, the tech finally asked me to tell them the oven model number and serial number over the phone. Viola, they were able to find the oven, since it had indeed connected to the Whirlpool web servers. They registered the oven in my name so that now when I called for support, they could see the model and serial number of the oven I had purchased.
Whirlpool IT Failure #7 – Data not shared between ordering system and support system
Remember, I ordered my oven directly from the Whirlpool web site. They KNEW the model number and the serial number when they shipped it to me. It was on the paperwork and email they sent me. They KNEW who I was. But for whatever reason, the information from my order was never sent to the support site. I had to re-enter everything – my name, email, phone number, address, etc. And now I had to call Whirlpool on the phone and read the model and serial number of my oven to a person on the other end of the phone so they could register it in my name. Is this 1990 we are talking about? Geez.
Whirlpool IT Failure #8 – Oven info not updated in database
Finally I was getting close, right? My oven was registered in my name. I was able to log into the Whirlpool app on my iPhone.
I tried claiming the oven again, but no luck. It would not show up in my iPhone app. You know, the cool app that is supposed to give you control of your oven from anywhere. The app I probably didn’t really need, but the app that had sold me on the cool Whirlpool oven. The app that doesn’t work.
I called Whirlpool Connected Support again. They tried to walk me through claiming my oven. After 30 minutes of trying, they said they could “see” my oven on the Whirlpool server, but I was unable to claim it with my iPhone app. Tech support said they would escalate the ticket to the engineers and once they had the problem fixed, tech support would call me back.
I waited. For a week. Not a peep. So I tried calling again. Luckily I got through quickly, talked to a tech about the open trouble ticket. Thankfully they could see the steps we had already been through. The tech put me on hold, called someone else, and after 10 minutes came back and said “your oven is such a new model, the information has not been entered into the back-end database so you won’t be able to claim it – or use the app to control the oven – until they get the oven model information entered into the database.”
“How long will that take?”
“We don’t know. We will call you back when it is done.”
No idea if it would be a day, week, month, or ever.
Whirlpool Corporate Failure #1 – This is a big one – Selling a product that has not yet been tested, supported, or even entered into your support database!
In my opinion, this goes all the way to the top. Deciding to sell a product that is not supported or EVEN ENTERED INTO YOUR SUPPORT DATABASE? That is just very, very poor customer support and borders on fraud in my opinion. Sure, I have an oven I can cook with, but I bought the oven based on all the cool things I could do with it using my iPhone. I paid EXTRA for those features. And they don’t even work yet? Not only do they not work, you have not tested them, and you have NOT EVEN ENTERED THE OVEN MODEL INFORMATION INTO YOUR SUPPORT DATABASE?
A good product damaged by poor support
The sad thing is we are happy with the product in general. The oven looks nice, it cooks great, it fits the space I had for it. Whirlpool’s pre-purchase buying experience was fantastic. But their after-sale support has just been horrendous and makes me wish I had chosen another product. I would ask for a return if I was able to get another oven in a timely manner, but because of the COVID pandemic, deliveries of appliances can take months. Hence, we are stuck for now with a product that doesn’t provide the features so highly touted on Whirlpool’s web site.
And much of this problem is the failure of back end IT support systems.
As an IT professional, it is a reminder of how important it is to actually test the customer experience and ensure that the service you intend to offer is as good as expected, and at least works as intended. As the world changes into a more connected place, this integration of IT with sales, support, and marketing is becoming even more crucial. No longer can IT be an island or considered a cost component of doing business. It has to be ingrained into every facet of your business and can make or break your customer experience. Unfortunately, Whirlpool is allowing their lack of IT prowess to ruin their customer satisfaction.