CBS Office Interiors celebrate 30 years in business this year. As the Managing Director of CBS this milestone has given me cause to reflect on the last three decades in business, and how we got to where we are now.
One factor of our success, I believe, is the longevity and strength of many of our relationships with our clients. Some companies have been along for the entire journey so far, starting when CBS sold office equipment such as faxes, photocopiers and even typewriters (remember those?) in the Eighties.
Clients such as HRG Worldwide and Boehringer Ingelheim have used our services for numerous projects over the years, and we’ve built close relationships with their respective teams during this time. These on-going relationships have not only helped shape our business, providing us with many insights that have allowed us to refine and expand our services; but they have also enabled us to deliver solutions with additional value to these clients because of our close relationship.
I asked Joy Cross, Business Service Support Manager at HRG Worldwide, and Tom Ryan, Head of General Services at Boehringer Ingelheim, for their insights into our professional relationship. Joy Cross reminded me of how even the little things can make a big difference to a professional relationship:
“It is something that happened a long time ago but I have never forgotten it – We had had a table swap with another office – the removal company delivered the replacement boardroom table to our office in Farnborough late one afternoon. It was only when they got here they realised the fixings had all gone missing! I called CBS at nearly 17.00 that evening in a panic as we had planned to use the room for a high level meeting starting at 08.30 the next morning – I was assured they would sort it out and sure enough when I got to work at 08.00 the next day the table was up and fixed! AND all the chairs had been put back around the table and the room was ready to go! Never forgotten it!!”
Over time CBS has become embedded in our clients’ organisations so that we have a deep understanding of their objectives, their working practises and the challenges they face across their business. This allows us to provide them with intuitive solutions that delve deeper than the average project brief can hope to deliver.
Tom Ryan shares his thoughts on our working relationship:
“We have worked with CBS for many years covering a variety of areas, but the past few years they have taken on a major refurbishment project. During this project they have encountered numerous changes from our original specification and despite this they have still delivered a quality finish. Their attitude on the job is exemplary and they have delivered on time in budget on every phase. In summary they are accommodating, flexible, competitive and most of all a nice company to work with.”
That’s not to say that those clients who we’ve only known for a few years get less of a service! Having grown our business together with our longstanding clients we have a vast amount of insight and expertise to offer them, ensuring that their projects benefit from these relationships too.
I was asked recently what I thought was the secret of great customer relationships. While this may sound like a cliché, I think the most important thing is that it’s about the people. While it may be a business-to-business relationship, it’s the relationships that we build as teams and individuals that really count.
Perhaps one of the advantages we have at CBS is that many of our employees have been with us for a long time. Being able to deliver continuity to our clients over time is important, while I am always available for our clients to speak to, it’s great that other members of the CBS team also know them well and understand their requirements. Tom Ryan says:
“Continuity is so important it gives an opportunity to build up good working relationships. My long time association, and frank open relationship with Phil and Alan ensures that any problems can be discussed openly and sorted amicably.”
Another factor in our relationships with clients like Boehringer Ingelheim is that we are always keen to support them in other projects such as their charity work. Last year our logistics and project management team got involved with their local community day, which helped a primary school build a greenhouse out of recycled bottles. Boehringer Ingelheim’s corporate social responsibility initiative, Community Spirit, is a very significant part of their culture and ethos, and therefore I think it’s important that we also embrace these initiatives and align ourselves with their CSR goals. Our logistics and project management expertise were also put to good use, and our designers will be taking inspiration from this project!
Customer service is something I believe is a key differentiator between organisations offering a similar service or product. Of course there are other office interiors companies but none of them have our team or, I believe, our focus on customer service. We start building relationships with new clients by tailoring our team to their requirements. Some clients want to be heavily involved in a project whereas others want us to take control so they can focus on their jobs. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach; instead we match our team to our clients.
Joy Cross says:
“I have always used the no surprises, no excuses analogy, they [CBS] have never lead me to believe they could deliver a service they are not equipped to do, but the service they do deliver usually exceeds expectations.”
We also regularly review our Customer Service Processes and have proactive strategies in place. These include working with our team to ensure they meet our customer service standards, as well as rewarding individual members of staff for outstanding customer service. I’m also very keen to monitor and measure our service by inviting feedback from our clients, even going so far to encourage them to speak to each other! We hold a number of hospitality events throughout the year where clients can meet and talk about their experience with CBS and this is very much part of our long term relationship building process.
Tom Ryan has this to say about the CBS team:
“Nice people to do business with at a reasonable cost and with a great sense of humour and broad shoulders to accept all the banter from our guys linked to the project!!”
Our team and the way they build strong professional working relationships is without doubt the reason our longstanding clients are still with us after 30 years. I really value these relationships and know that they are integral to our success. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary we will most certainly be raising a glass to clients such as HRG Worldwide and Boehringer Ingelheim and their teams!
CBS Office Interiors