In the current environment of supply chain challenges, inflation, and the pandemic, Arctic believes customer service is the key to success. We spoke with the Director of Customer Service for Arctic Walk-ins, Freddy Remolina, to hear about why Arctic has allocated more resources to customers and how the team will continue to set the standard in being there when it counts. A slightly edited transcript of the conversation can be found below.
Freddy, you are not only the Director of Customer Service, but take an active role in providing customer service yourself. Please tell us a little bit about your career here at Arctic.
Freddy: “Absolutely- I’m Freddy Remolina, Director of Customer Service at Arctic Industries. I started back at the end 2019, assisting Arctic- which was more of a part-time role at the time, and in November of 2020 I joined Arctic full-time. This was during a challenging time because of the pandemic, however it was also a great time for Arctic as there were a lot of changes happening within the organization, which would eventually pave the road for the company to ensure that Arctic remains a game changer in the industry.
My main duties at Arctic are developing tools to better support our customers. I develop internal procedures to be more efficient at providing prompt assistance to our customers. I also work in conjunction with the Engineering team on technical and troubleshooting material, installation guides and videos, and other essential documentation to ensure understanding of our products. At Arctic, everyone does customer support in one way or another. We have a growing team of dedicated individuals that not only understand the core values of our company, but that commit to make them a reality in their daily work interactions with our customers and their team members.”
What are the many facets of what the Arctic team does with/for customers day-to-day, in terms of parts, support, delivery updates, etc?
Freddy: “I would say that our tasks at the support team get broken down into five/six main things. Firstly, we assist our customers when there are issues during and after delivery. We process parts orders from our parts website at mywalkinparts.com, along with purchase orders from dealers, and parts covered under warranty. We assist customers and service companies with warranty inquiries, exclusions, and terms and conditions. We assist service companies processing warranty service calls on our equipment, and we provide technical assistance to customers. Lastly, we have to place orders for equipment that is under warranty but not necessarily ours, like when we call our OEM’s and our vendors. That is equipment that is packed and sold with our products, so we have to claim those warranties on behalf of our customers because everything has the Arctic tag on it.”
It’s definitely not an easy time to be in customer service with the pandemic and supply chain issues. What would you say that Arctic is doing to go the extra mile for customers in this environment?
Freddy: “All of us had to experience these challenges in one way or another at a personal level. Supply chain issues and shipping challenges are not just affecting our industry. Fortunately, our customers have understood this, and they have been able to work around these challenges along us. Arctic believes that while some things may be out of our control, like supply chain constraints, others are within our control, and we are working hard to make sure that we do not oversee those. Customer care is one of those. Being there for our customers in challenging times like this is crucial. Transparency, constant communication and prompt support is the key to achieve that. The assurance that they have a company that will back them up from beginning to end, and not just take their order and look away, is priceless. In the end, we want our customers to know that during these times, or during any time, we are here for you. We are adding more team members to our support team to ensure we can succeed at this goal. While many companies decided to cut on their staffing or stay short-staffed after the pandemic, Arctic is doing the complete opposite. We are growing our customer support team as we know that this is the only way we will stand above others. A great product must have great support.”
Your team not only provides support, but has also developed the accessories and parts ordering through Arctic’s MyWalkInParts site. How has the site evolved and what is planned to enhance the customers’ ability to order and receive support through the MWIP site?
Freddy: “Mywalkinparts.com started as a simple platform for customers to conveniently purchase walk-in cooler and freezer parts directly from the factory. It wasn’t very fancy and a bit generic by today’s standards but proved to be extremely useful not only for our customers but for the company. In 2021 we did a complete makeover of the website because we understood that not only we needed to work on more product offerings, easier checkout, better pictures, but also that our customers were asking for a better online experience, and their feedback allowed us to do just that. We are very excited about the new website as it goes in-line with our newer image and development of our main website, and it’s worth mentioning that the website has been very well received by our customers. On the pipeline are exciting things for our parts website like installation guides and videos, troubleshooting guides and videos, ordering templates for gaskets and new products added to the catalog.”
What is the biggest challenge the Customer Service team faces day to day?
Freddy: “Issues where we depend on other vendors to help our customer, or situations where we have no control. Good examples of those are back ordered parts under warranty from our OEMs and transit damage. These issues are hard to solve promptly, especially nowadays with the extended lead times the industry is experiencing. What we have learned is that constant communication and giving the customer the assurance that we will work hard to help them, amid the situation, goes a long way.”
What are three most important elements of a great customer service culture?
Freddy: “I would say a prompt response, firstly. Nobody likes to wait to hear from a customer support agent. The second important element would be listening to your customer. Listen first, always, and step into their shoes. You never know the situation that the customer is in. Sometimes it may sound completely out of the ordinary, but if you’re listening clearly to what they have to say, and step into their shoes, things will typically make a lot more sense. Lastly, I would say that you should offer a sincere apology when things don’t go well, with the assurance that we will make our best effort to make it right.”
What makes Arctic different from other customer service teams you have worked with before?
Freddy: “Arctic is a very fast paced environment internally, and priorities can change in a second. Nevertheless, the team is always able to pull it off no matter the circumstances, which is incredibly gratifying. I would also add that everyone in the company is always willing to help, which is great.”
How are the inner workings of the engineering, sales, manufacturing and customer service groups in Arctic? What does Arctic do to ensure that the customer is taken care of from the inception of the project to post-installation care?
Freddy: “We have created an environment of cooperation internally that works very well. As I mentioned at the beginning, we all do customer support on one level or another. From the Project Coordinator who is helping with the details of your project, to the production team making sure that your product is on time, to the financing team working with you on payment terms, to the pre-assembly crew making sure your box fits together well before packing and shipping, to us at customer support offering assistance once the walk-in shows up to your door. Once the product is in the customer’s hands, the customer support team becomes the main point of contact. We make sure their inquiry gets to the right place, whether we can handle ourselves at support, or whether we need the assistance of the engineering, sales, manufacturing, or any other team, we are here to help.”
Feedback on Positive and Negative Reviews
Customer #1: “I had to call for help regarding the warranty on my brand-new walk-in cooler installed 6 months ago. I do understand the company has to clarify who was the responsible party (installer/manufacturer), however the warranty department representative won’t give me a chance to explain the situation first and try to understand the customers’ needs. She continued talking over me and finally had to talk over her in order to say a single word. Listening to your customer first, then addressing the issue should be the right order.”
Freddy: “I think this particular customer was a representative of precisely the faults that we had at that particular point in time, 4 years ago. When we go back to the three main things that you were asking me about providing great customer service- we talked about it without even knowing it, and that’s listening to the customer first, before you start talking. I would say that the past is the past, you can’t change it, but it’s there to help you make changes and improve on the mistakes you made. The most important thing is that our team now is cognisant of these problems and strives to make sure these things don’t happen again.”
Customer #2: “Freddy, I just have to say one thing- thank you!!! For all of your guidance, for your willingness to help sort out everything, for your commitment to your company and standing by your product and providing everything you did to help me understand everything. As of Tuesday last week, part of the delay as I had been hoping, Houston… we made contact! Our walk-in was turned on and today, I’m glad to say, it’s purring like a kitten. Stay awesome, blessed, and have an absolutely spectacular rest of the year. Respectfully, Edgar R.”
Freddy: “Oh yeah, I remember Edgar. That was actually when I first joined Arctic full-time. This was a very particular situation, involving a huge miscommunication in between him and the dealer. The dealer that sold him his box, made a mistake on the design of the box, and so you can imagine as a customer that just spent tens of thousands of dollars, only to find out that the racks will not fit into the cooler- it was an unfortunate situation. He had been trying to reach out to customer support and finally it arrived at my desk. I worked with him, the dealer, and the engineering team to manufacture the parts that he needed for the cooler instead of starting over from scratch. He was extremely grateful for all of our help. He understood that it was not really our fault, but he was happy to know that there was somebody there that would help him after he spent all of this money, when the dealer kind of turned their back on him.”
Customer #3: “Freddy, I hate to give a 10, but you guys always respond promptly and fair treatment of the decision to warranty or not. I’ll let you know if things change.”
Freddy: “Yes, this is one of our dealer reps. We have a very good relationship with all of our dealers- we work together because in the end we’re all trying to help our customer. That was just a quick, “Hey folks, things are going well at Arctic and we hope they don’t change.” Which to me comes as great news because this means that all the changes that we have been making are paying off.”
Customer #4: “Thank you for all the extra effort. No wonder Arctic is #1, with dedicated employees like you all.”
Freddy: “I think that’s a great one to summarize this interview and what we’re all about here at Arctic. It highlights the fact that everyone at the company is working together to be there for the customer, which is what we want our customers to think about when they work with us. We have a great product, and a great team to show for it.”
Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, Freddy!