In a culture of continuous improvement, you always strive to do things better. Even the things you already do well.
And when you're a business that measures success by the way you touch the lives of people, you want every interaction to be meaningful and fulfilling.
This is especially true for customers. After all, they buy your products. To continue to strengthen the trust between the company and the customer, your business must always evolve to meet their needs.
With that in mind, executive leaders throughout Barry-Wehmiller renewed their commitment to strengthening the trust their customers place in our businesses. In August 2015, 32 people from every business and functional area of the organization – including those companies represented in BW Packaging Systems: Accraply, BW Container Systems, Design Group, Hayssen Flexible Systems, Paper Converting Machine Company, Pneumatic Scale Angelus, Synerlink and Thiele Technologies – came together to create a vision for this initiative, identifying a number of elements that are essential to the customer experience.
“In one room we had representatives from sales, operations, customer service and field service and engineering and throughout the organization who came together and identified a common passion to raise our game in the way we meet the needs of our customers,” said Brian Wellinghoff, Barry-Wehmiller Director of Strategy, Improvement and Culture. “We recognized it isn’t the work of one business or one department, but really an opportunity to share collective experiences across the organization.”
One of the most unique tools that developed out of this experience is called “Crafting the Story.” This tool taps into Barry-Wehmiller’s culture of caring, taking the phrase “Everybody Matters” to another level by personalizing projects for the team members involved through the use of pictures and storytelling.
When a new project is assigned, there is immediately a collaborative effort to “Craft the Story.” A cross- functional team collaborates to provide information that offers a full-scale picture of the project and the customer. For example, one department will provide customer satisfaction data while the responsible sales team member contributes the details about the business, its people, and what the equipment being produced means to the business.
In addition, the “Craft the Story” document includes the technical deliverables of the project, a clear definition of success, the “soft” objectives that impact the delivery of customer value that otherwise might not be clear or communicated plus any other information that will bring the project and customer to life inside the walls of our manufacturing facilities.
“What we’ve seen in a relatively short amount of time is that when you understand the story behind a project and convey that story, not just to the sales person who’s trying to sell the equipment but to the entire team, it’s an incredibly powerful thing,” O’Neill said.
“It unleashes a lot of personal pride from all team members involved in the project. It gives them a sense of personal ownership. People want to make a difference in other people’s lives and when you help them understand the people whose lives are impacted by their work, it’s moving and motivational.”
Jim Eagan, a Barry-Wehmiller continuous improvement leader, said that one of the key highlights of the “Crafting the Story” initiative is the realization that the team will have more passion for serving the customer if they understand their unique story. Because, he said, each customer defines success differently and each customer interaction may include different needs.
“For example, this isn’t Project 39233, it isn’t even the ‘Joe Packaging Company’ project, it is the project from ‘Joe’ at ‘Joe Packaging Company’ and how we’re helping his business and how we are helping Joe’s people, who will use our product. We need every person who touches the process to understand ‘Joe’s’ perception and expectations.”
“It used to be the associates inside our business only knew the project number, not the actual people who are making the commitment to them for the order,” Nancy Herzog, a Barry-Wehmiller teammate in Baltimore who is part of the “Crafting the Story” process in her location. “It was like we were speaking two different languages. The meetings and stories have helped all of our associates understand who our customers are, that there are real people attached to the machines we sell, and that their livelihood is connected to how well we perform.”
The “Crafting the Story” initiative has just begun rolling out throughout the Barry-Wehmiller organization, including in many of the companies represented in BW Packaging Systems. Already it is proving to be a very effective tool in serving the customer and working above and beyond the norm to meet their needs.
“It’s a very small piece of our Customer Trust initiative, but it’s such an important piece because of Barry-Wehmiller’s culture,” O’Neill said. “Because we have such a caring internal culture, as we extend that caring to our customers, there’s really no end to the power it can unleash – in terms of accountability, passion for excellence and commitment to get the job done and pull out all the stops for our customers.”