Love it or hate it, Whirlpool is a key communication tool for many people working in the technology sector in Australia. Threads relating to our brands Jumba and AussieHQ surface on a weekly or even daily basis on their forums, so we obviously spend a lot of time there. Bearing that in mind, we thought we’d share our thoughts with you on Whirlpool – the good, the bad and the ugly….
There are two great things about Whirlpool in our eyes.
Firstly, Whirlpool is a hub for news stories related to the Australian broadband industry, and also runs a community forum which covers any topic relating to technology. According to Whirpool, approximately 18,000 unique individuals produce in over 600,000 page views every day. Monthly, around 12,000 new discussion threads are created with an average of 15 posts each (for a total of 177,500 posts). It’s obviously a leading source of tech-related information for Australians.
Secondly, I think Whirlpool is valuable because it brings the consumer and service provider together in a neutral environment. The Whirlpool forums are an open conversation where anyone can input into the conversation to help resolve a question or issue. Speaking more specifically about my involvement with Whirlpool, I have found that it’s a great tool for customers to reach out to Uber and ask public questions where the answers can be moderated by the thoughts of others. Many posts on Whirlpool provide education on best practice by highlighting when it is, and when it isn’t, applied. I regularly take on board the suggestions of Whirlpool posters and share these with the UberGlobal team, as we are always open to rethinking our products and policies.
The downside to Whirlpool is that, as with any public forum, sometimes issues can be blown out of proportion. There are several ways that this can happen.
One factor that can affect how a company comes across on Whirlpool is its size. They might get a lot of complaints on Whirlpool, but does that necessarily mean they are terrible? Often it just means that they have a lot of technically savvy customers. I understand that a lot of Uber’s customers have found and signed up with us via Whirlpool, and so I can’t help but wonder if that makes them more likely to engage there in the future as a result.
I have also seen a lot of thread titles on Whirlpool that are somewhat misleading. For example, you will often see a thread exclaiming that a host is ‘down’, but in reality this is rarely the case. Large hosts, such as UberGlobal, have hundreds of shared servers which collectively have thousands of customers on them. A bad review on Whirlpool can often be the result of just one of those servers going down.
Whirlpool threads can be a battleground where disputes are rife between differing personalities. Debate is healthy and no one likes to engage in it more than a tech. This can become problematic, however, when threads on Whirlpool get caught up in small battles between people who hold differing opinions, and to suspect and suggest becomes a strong theme. Often the participants have no real basis from which to hold such suspicions and from our experience can get things wildly wrong. Unfortunately, hosters can then get caught up trying to defend such suggestion and can end up looking guilty by association.
What’s the best way for a company representative to handle Whirlpool?
I have seen so many different approaches taken by company reps on Whirlpool, and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on how best to take customer queries and complaints.
Let’s start with some examples. David from Micron21 and Adam Seliman from Panthur are both hosting representatives who have a helpful and positive approach. They often provide useful information even in threads that are not directly related to their companies, and they always remain calm and courteous when engaging with their customers. I think both of these guys strike the right balance between selling their companies and providing a valuable contribution to the Whirlpool community.
My own approach to Whirlpool is to always remain polite and try and assist with customer service issues, without getting too caught up in the various debates the community wants to discuss. I guess I’m saying that I’m there to help existing customers, not to really sell anyone on UberGlobal.
I tend to determine whether the poster has made contact with us through the traditional channels before coming to Whirlpool. Uber encourages its customers to direct concerns through the official support channels and also has a formal complaints process to try to resolve serious concerns via our senior management. If the customer has indeed already gone down the official route and found the response to be unsatisfactory, I will chase the matter up as promptly as I can, and I’ve usually found that a solution can be reached that keeps everybody happy. I do find that most people are generally quite reasonable once they can see that I’m really listening to their concerns.
This approach can also be related to other channels for customer support, but do you think that it’s the best way to go? Let me know in the comments below.
All in all I’d have to conclude that, despite complaints and exaggerations, Whirlpool is a fantastic resource for consumers looking for a mostly impartial review on tech-related products or services. It is notable that Whirlpool’s staff is made up entirely of volunteers who hope to provide information to Australian and international consumers. These staff, in my opinion, manage their forums without bias for the benefit of their readers, the consumers. Their hard work provides our customers with another channel through which to connect with us, and in the end, how can that be a bad thing?
What are your thoughts on Whirlpool? Do you post or browse there? Do you have a favourite company representative? Let us know about your experiences in the comment below!