How to Honor Your Customer


Many companies talk about honoring the voice of the customer, but how many actually bring the customer's voice to the shop floor? MarquipWardUnited (MWU), a division of Barry-Wehmiller does, and in an elegant and powerful way. 

The company graciously allowed me to tour their facilities in Maryland a couple of weeks ago. The  evidence of their "Living Legacy of Leadership" was everywhere, from the team huddles, to the visual boards throughout the shop floor, to the way in which the company gave all employees an extra day off because they just completed a year without an accident.

[Quick digression: think about that for a moment. The company gave everyone an paid vacation day because workers were able to stay safe for a year. There's a huge economic benefit to the company for not losing any worker days, and the company shares that benefit with the people who make it happen. That's real "respect for people" in action.]

Making a connection with customers is a challenge for this plant. Like shop floor workers in most companies, MWU workers don't ever get to meet their customers. They work hard to meet customer needs, but they don't really know who's using their machines. And that's where the customer profile cards come in. The key details about each customer are put on a bulletin board so that workers can see who's buying their machines and why. 

 

These cards (actually about 8½ x 11) tell workers which machines the customer bought, why the customer bought them, and what they'll be used for. They also provide information about the customer: where they're located, how many people work there, and what the new machines will mean to the customer's success. And if people want more information, the salesperson's and project leader's names are on the card as well. 

We all know (or should know!) how Barry-Wehmiller honors its employees as full human beings, not just a pair of hands that must be bought. But these cards show that the company honors its customers as human beings as well, not just as wallets dispensing money to fund the company's operations. 

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