When Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family is released on Oct. 6, you’ll find many stories with a simple, powerful, transformative, and testable idea: that every one of your team members is important and worthy of care. In the next few weeks, we want to give you something of preview of the book by focusing on some of the people whose stories ultimately became part of a bigger story at Barry-Wehmiller. Some of those we’ve told on this blog, but we want to use this space to deepen and expand on those individual experiences and show the ripple effect of what happens when everybody truly matters in an organization.
How do you or people on your team view relationships with customers? Is it just business, as is often said, or are they viewed as a person instead of a number or a dollar sign?
Sarah Beth Settle is the Western U.S. Customer Service Specialist for replacement parts and upgrades at our Hayssen Flexible Systems (now BW Flexible Systems) company in Duncan, South Carolina.
Hayssen provides flexible packaging solutions for many food companies who have goods in your refrigerator and in your pantry right now.
Sarah’s been with us since 2007, but in 2012 she had one of her most significant challenges in her customer-facing role.
For the second time in 18 months, one of Sarah’s customers suffered a major flood. Mud covered the facility, machines were damaged. It was a customer she had built a very deep connection with and there was a real fear their parent company would just close the location, rather than try to work through the issues.
Because of her relationship with the people at the plant, Sarah took the situation personally.
“They had become my family,” she said. “I just couldn’t stand the idea of them losing their jobs.”
Teams from Hayssen were involved in the clean-up and getting machines back online, but there was the problem of replacing parts in some of these machines. Parts that had been obsolete for ten years.
Sarah worked diligently with her friends at the plant to compile a list of the needed parts. Then, she and other teammates scoured the corners of remote Hayssen warehouses to find exactly what was needed. They were able to get the needed parts to the customer within days.
Today, that plant is still up and running.
Because of her care for her friends, Sarah couldn’t just give up.
“It would have been very easy for me to say that day, ‘these parts are obsolete, we can’t do this,’” she said. “We didn’t do that.”
Barry-Wehmiller measures success by the way we touch the lives of others. That holds true for every stakeholder in every part of our business. It includes our teammates, but it also includes our customers. That’s how you build a better world through business, by taking the opportunity to touch every life you encounter in a positive way every day. Sarah did that by acting quickly to help friends who could have lost their jobs.
The importance of viewing your customer as a person, not just as a dollar sign was driven home to Sarah in our Culture of Service Foundations class through Barry-Wehmiller University. “It just deepened, for me, how having a relationship of trust, where someone treats you like a person, can really increase the value of your day,” Sarah said.
Someone who had a profound effect on Sarah was one of her professors in that class, Ken Coppens. Ken’s journey of finding and using his gift to inspire change in others is prominently featured in the prologue to Everybody Matters.
Sarah said she often jokes that Ken is one of her “Yodas” in Barry-Wehmiller. “I know that I can trust him and I know if there’s something I’m trying to work through in my head, he is going to encourage me and help me and get me where I need to be,” she said.
“I’m not in a leadership role in a formal sense, but I can still help others in the same way Ken did for me.”
Sarah came to manufacturing from the food service industry, so she already had a sense of the importance of relationships in customer service. But through Ken’s leadership and her experiences at Barry-Wehmiller, she gained a deeper level of understanding. Focusing not on dollar amount of sales, but on building a connection with her customer, Sarah said, is something you can’t put a price tag on.
“The reality of it is, if you’re not building a relationship with your customer and if you’re not in a role like customer service because of people, then you’re probably doing the wrong thing, because it really is about people,” Sarah said.
And when you make it about people, you’ll go the extra mile to help make a difference, which in Sarah’s case, helped save her friends’ jobs.
“There’s a phrase I grew up hearing,” Sarah said. “‘If you change one life, you can change a world,’ because each person has their own world.”