BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — As a customer relations manager for Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry, Joe Carrita’s forté is problem-solving.
Whether troubleshooting concerns or developing parts and service manuals and videos, he’s always working to find effective solutions that keep businesses up and running. His area of special interest is the on-premises laundry segment.
Carrita answered a few questions about his role in customer relations and some of the key lessons he has learned over his 23-year career.
When it comes to working with customers, what is the one thing that stands out for you?
On-premises laundry customers are unique. These properties include hotels, hospitals and assisted-living facilities—places where laundry is key to the overall health of the property.
By health, I mean literally the health of those who stay in the facilities and figuratively from a revenue standpoint. A property may only have two machines, so if one goes down, they’re at 50% capacity. We need to treat our customers with a sense of urgency and find inventive ways to address challenges.
How did you get involved in the laundry industry?
This industry has always held a special place in my world. As a kid, I lived across the street from American Dryer Corp. I’ve always thought it was funny that I ended up working and building a career in the laundry industry.
I have held a variety of roles starting out in the shipping department. From there, I moved on to the service technician team and various roles in production, serving with the different brands including Maytag® Commercial Laundry and ADC™ Laundry.
What have been some of the key lessons you have learned along the way?
The roles I’ve held have allowed me the opportunity to learn everything I could about the machines—unique features, key benefits to those features, and of course, how the machines are built.
So much goes into each machine—outside of the individual parts. There is a commitment that serves as the foundation to each washer and dryer that leaves our manufacturing facility. It’s a commitment to building durability and dependability into each machine. Each part, person and feature supports that commitment in order to help our customers thrive in their specific markets.
I try to constantly evolve and learn from new people. That’s how I’ve approached my whole career—I make sure I listen more than I talk.
You mention people—what is it about people that stands out for you?
I have always been fascinated with the people. Our customers and the people behind our machines have continually fueled my desire to always build the relationship.
Even though I am no longer on the production floor, the production teams still see me as one of them. This is important because I rely on that team’s years of in-depth knowledge every day in responding effectively to our customers. Recognizing the importance of that bond, I have worked hard to carry on the relationships I have built over the years.
That idea of building lasting relationships is also something we work to do with customers. In particular, at Whirlpool Corp. Commercial Laundry, we try to do more than listen to our customers—it’s about always treating them with respect and working to form a bond. Sometimes customers simply want to be heard, so we give them that time. Then, we share what we understand of the situation and how we can help. Our goal is to try to make things as easy as we can for them.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Most of the time, we follow a fairly common pattern, even while the details shift constantly. I start each morning by checking in with our technical service team to make sure they have the resources and information they need to be successful.
Throughout the day, I often jump in on questions that require what I would call the “heritage knowledge” I’ve gathered over the years on how various machines or processes developed over time.
I also have the opportunity to give tours to visitors at our Fall River, Mass., facility, and occasionally travel to new customers and distributors to offer training on machines. That training goes back once again to our brand’s core commitment to serving the customer, as well as the machine’s end-user. Holding a supportive role in the industry through training and service helps us have an impact on our customer’s business and the industry’s overall growth.
Is there a specific day that stands out?
Each day on the job is different, which is what I love most. The wide variety of responsibilities, people I get to meet, and the issues that need to be addressed—they are all incentives to do the job well.
However, I will say that fielding unexpected questions allows me to think even more “outside of the box.” There is one request that was perhaps the most unusual, and one I don’t think I could have predicted. In fact, it was a call that had started out sounding like a joke, but after getting on the line, I realized the request was real.
We received a call from a movie production team. The movie’s producers wanted to know how to make a machine appear to turn on, but not actually turn on. Apparently there was a big fight scene and for the culmination of the scene, someone would be slammed into a washer. This was a fun discussion and our team found ourselves both asking and answering questions we wouldn’t have predicted prior to that call. However, we were able to provide answers and ideas that helped the movie team make it happen in the end.
How would you summarize the role customer service holds in this industry, or any industry?
In all circumstances, it all comes back to one lesson I learned early on: listen more than you talk. It’s advice that I share with my team at work, but also with my own children as they start to pursue their own interests. I’ve learned I have to try to understand the other side of things and grasp not only how I view the issue, but how others do.
If we look at things only from our own perspective, we’re never going to be able to please the person we need to please the most. However, in the end, everything we do here is meant to put the customer first.