In a world where entrepreneurship is growing leaps and bounds, there is more and more competition. No matter what type of business you operate, there will certainly be others subtly, or possibly quite blatantly, wooing your customers and muscling their way in on your piece of the market. You need to make sure your company stands out as one of the best.
Almost every company says they are the best at what they do even though a vast majority have never taken the time or put in the effort to define what the “best” really means. Seldom do firms have standards in place to really measure against.
According to CS3’ President, Gary Crouch, “a Standard is an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations. CS3’s 18 Service Pillars are the standards we use as our model to measure the quality of the services we provide our clients. While some of the Pillars are very specific, others are of a more general nature. Taken as a whole, they provide the parameters within which we operate, assuring the customer’s needs are the focus, not the process of team dynamics, or the personality quirks of its members”.
The 18 Service Pillars, or 18 Consulting Behaviors as they were known in the beginning, were birthed back in 2007 when CS3’s management team met with long time mentor, Ed Kless, who brought up the concept of a series of behaviors of successful consultants that would assist them in becoming the best of the best. He believed that consultants who exhibit these behaviors were the ones who stood above the rest. They excel, not only because they are experts in their field, but also because they have mastered these behaviors and embraced them as part of their business ethics. The CS3 management team quickly adopted the behaviors as a standard for becoming and remaining an employee.
The behaviors were rolled out with a flourish, branding was put in place, art work was diligently developed that embodied the essence of each defined behavior, and our employees loved the opportunity to tie their day to day activities and achievements to a specific behavior. As consultants, this validated what we were already doing for our customers and gave us an even greater goal to target.
As the years past and our culture evolved and completely embraced the 18 Behaviors, the team took it to the next level, once again differentiating CS3 from a sea of consulting firms with similar offerings. We began to not only look at ourselves and recognize our own team members for exemplifying a certain behavior, but watched and listened to our customers and identified specific actions that THEY were doing that exhibited one of the 18 Behaviors. Each month, a client was awarded a framed picture of the behavior artwork along with public recognition via press releases and newsletter stories. The clients loved the accolades and the consultants loved sharing the stories.
From there, the 18 Behaviors morphed in to 18 Service Pillars, a different name but an unchanging set of standards, and we once again put the focus back on CS3 team members since their talent, integrity and dedication to our clients is what makes us the best. Each month, there are multiple employees that provide customer experiences that stand out above the norm. Management recognizes this. Competitors recognize this. Our clients recognize this. When an outstanding action is identified, a nomination is sent to the management team for review and one team member each month receives the Service Pillar Award from the group of nominations.
Shawn Slavin, Vice President of Consulting, CS3, is often heard saying, “Quality can only be delivered when a standard has been established. CS3’s Service Pillars define our standards. Today, they are ingrained in to who we are and how we operate.”
As a client of CS3, rest assured that each interaction with our team will encompass these 18 Service Pillars:
- Be Authentic – Authentic behavior is the most powerful quality we have as consultants. Authenticity is about undisputed credibility when you articulate what you are experiencing. In other words, you express the emotions you feel without being emotional.
- Exhibit Professionalism at All Times – Conduct every action & communication with absolute professionalism. Bring a sense of calmness and assurance during times of stress for your client. Continuously work on improving your skills and knowledge. Maintain an impeccable character.
- Demonstrate Success -Success is always measured against the client's written objectives and can only be achieved when it is demonstrated to the client. Always insure acknowledgment is communicated up and down throughout the client's organization.
- Engage in Knowledge Transfer – Knowledge transfer has occurred when your client is self-sufficient in their day-to-day operations. Multiple methods are employed including training, mentoring, hands-on experience, and interactions to insure success
- Stay Clear of Politics – While you must, without question, know and understand the politics of the client's situation, stay clear of getting involved. Do not get drawn in and choose a side.
- Focus on Delivering Value – Everything you do for a client should provide a return on their investment. Just because you CAN do something, does not mean that you SHOULD.
- Make the Client Look Good – Publicly recognize the contributions & successes of the client & their team. Always pass credit to those who have earned it.
- Take Administrative Tasks Seriously – Administrative tasks are essential to the success of every project. This includes documenting project details accurately and on a timely basis.
- Know Your Audience – Know to whom you are speaking, but do not talk up or down to anyone. Treat everyone's time and position with respect.
- Spend Money as if it was Your Own – Clients expect to be billed for your expenses, but spend wisely. For travel, always seek the most cost-effective alternative. For meals, eat as you would at home. Always give the client the option to save money.
- Project a Positive Attitude – Adversity and challenges are part of every engagement. They should always be met with a "can do" spirit. A positive attitude is contagious to the rest of the team.
- Communicate – Communication is a two way process: always seek to understand BEFORE you try to be understood. You should use many forms of communication: calls, email and face-to-face, always assuming there will be an external audience.
- Show Up Ready to Work – Study project information before you arrive. Have your materials (agenda, handouts, etc.) ready to go. Know what you are going to do this visit, discuss it briefly with the client as you arrive, then get to it.
- Look for Improvements – Your relationship is based on trust and your ability to find and create solutions. Help your client identify needs they might not be aware of by looking past the immediate pain and find the root cause. Propose solutions or further research with the goal of developing alternatives.
- Protect Your Integrity – Be truthful, even the when the message is hard for your client to hear. Be reliable. If you are unable to meet a commitment, communicate that quickly.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver – Always be conservative in your estimates and promises; then deliver more than what is expected.
- Never Leave the Client Guessing – Call to confirm every appointment. Arrive before your appointed time and debrief when leaving. Never leave without an acknowledgment from the client. Follow up the next day.
- Know When You are in Over Your Head – If you suspect that you need help, ask for it. Always try to refer the situation to someone who can deal with it most expediently. It is all right (in fact, it is preferred) to say you do not know but will get the answer.
The 18 Service Pillars defines CS3 and what we stand for. They are part of the overall vision and mission of the company They are the way CS3 does business and the way the CS3 team members live life. They are what makes our company great. They are our true differentiator.