A Lesson From The Bunker

May 22, 2013
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller
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During a recent round of golf with my wife Cynthia, she laid her sand wedge down on the fringe of the green before preparing to putt.

As it is easy to forget clubs once we lay them down on the course, I started to thoughtfully remind her to pick it up. Suddenly I changed my mind, simply picking up the club and returning it to her.

I seized the opportunity to serve.

This simple statement—and seemingly inconsequential gesture–represents an exciting new vision to build a Culture of Service throughout Barry-Wehmiller.

While we continue to believe outstanding customer service is crucial in business, we believe our opportunities to serve transcend our relationships with our external customers and extend to anyone we have an opportunity to serve. This adjustment in our view about service to others is in total alignment with our vision of measuring success by the way we touch the lives of people.

Our new commitment to a Culture of Service challenges us to recognize the countless service opportunities with which we’re presented each and every day.

This new vision is not what I expected when I challenged our Organizational Empowerment Team to look at the way we dealt with our customers–in my view, those who provided us the opportunity to be in business. I felt like our relationships with our industrial equipment customers were too transaction oriented and needed to be more relationship oriented.

After all, if we truly wanted to live our foundational vision of measuring success by the way we touch the lives of people, shouldn’t our Truly Human Leadership culture be extended to the relationships with our customers? The team answered my challenge in ways I had never anticipated, with an end result that far surpassed my expectations.

While most companies view a customer as external to the organization – one who pays for goods or services – the team wrote a different definition. They avowed that anyone becomes a customer at the moment we have an opportunity to serve.

At first, I hesitated. Why such a broad definition? It seemed a bit strange. I should think of my colleagues, friends and family as customers?

They reminded me that we often treat those to whom we are closest far worse than we would ever treat an external customer. Is that really how we want to behave? What disconnects does that behavior create within our organization? And don’t those disconnects ultimately get in our way of serving our external customers?

The team created a vision to build a Culture of Service within Barry-Wehmiller such that serving others became a natural, seamless part of our daily lives. They developed a course for our Barry-Wehmiller University to open the hearts and minds of our organization to the world of service opportunities not seen before.

While my initial goal was focused on enhancing our relationships with our external customers, the team delivered a result profoundly more powerful to all our customers—internal and external alike. In striving toward a culture of service, we aim to seize every opportunity to serve and, in doing so, increase emotional connections that cultivate better relationships thereby offering ultimate service to all. In other words, touching lives through our business.

Our Culture of Service professors are working hard to drive this new vision deep into the organization through the classes they teach.

The response has been exciting—from the subsidiary president who expressly endorsed the course as a key factor for his business’ success in the coming year, to the aftermarket customer service representative who is more aware of her outside salesperson’s needs, to the dad who is getting greater cooperation from his spirited son since learning to view the issues through the boy’s lens. We’re well on our way to a culture in which we are inspired daily to take action to meet the needs of everyone.

As leaders, we need to be more mindful of the myriad customers within our sphere of influence. We should seek and then seize every opportunity to serve.

It may be as simple as picking up a golf club.

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