Having been in the client’s shoes for approximately 16 of my more than 20 years in IT, I regularly saw what was lacking with technology consulting firms, both big and small. Because I started my career working for one of the best-known consulting firms in California, I had an insider’s perspective how they operated. In fact, I was working as a consultant in 1999, when my client hired me away from the consultancy to work in-house in its new and growing IT Department. My area was the endpoint and everything to do with it (System Imaging, Management, Remote Access and Applications), with the goal that I would be the subject matter expert, rather than relying on vendors. Although it was also the goal of my engineering team to be experts in everything we deployed and supported, there were times when it just made more sense to seek outside expertise. In these instances, as well as when researching, evaluating, or deploying a new product, it was my job to meet with both the sales and engineering teams of the vendors we were considering.
The consulting arms of some of the biggest-name companies were often the worst to manage. Even for a relatively small project, their process required multiple meetings with people from different departments, who sometimes seemed to be at cross-purposes. After countless hours of these largely unproductive meetings, there was the wait to receive a long contract that invariably required rounds of modifications, as the contract terms favored the vendor, not us, the client. Following that process, an implementation date was set for a date several weeks away. When that day finally arrived, the “engineer’s” skill set was often so far below my expectations that I’d release them the same day or after only a few days. I guarded my Firm’s money as if it were my own, and if I’m paying good money for a service, I expect the service to be rendered by an expert in that field. To quote one of my favorite shows, Shark Tank, “I can tell from the start if the product [in this case, person] is a hero or a zero!”
So, when we started to hire people at ConnectUNow, I wanted to be certain we would be the absolute best in the area. We work to ensure everyone at ConnectUNow has all the skill sets I saw lacking in the consultants I met when I was the client. Our staff members are trained in what I believe are the three most critical areas: customer service, people management/diplomacy, and technical skills development. This is not a 2 day course, but, rather, a continuous and ongoing process. Few engineers understand that, no matter the company, IT is a customer service business, but it’s something we talk about every day at ConnectUNow.
ConnectUNow’s standards are simple, and we reiterate them throughout the year:
•Respect the client and provide the best customer experience
•Understand each client’s environment and culture
•Be open and honest
•Communicate early and often – share knowledge
•Consistently create and adhere to standards
•Proactively work to resolve issues at their source, rather than merely band-aiding symptoms
•Speak up in meetings with your well-thought-out ideas
•Appreciate your clients, team members and managers
ConnectUNow will not try to staff projects with only our in-house staff if we do not feel we are equipped to provide the best service. We are candid about the expertise we have in house, and if we have to sub contract a small piece to an outside expert, we are upfront about this with our clients. As a result, we now have clients who ask us to manage other vendors or providers in areas outside of technology, because they trust us to manage with their best interests in mind.
We commit to you that everyone at ConnectUNow will be friendly and willing to help, wherever and whenever asked. We also won’t give you answers we aren’t sure are accurate. Part of the ConnectUNow mindset is that it’s ok to not always have all the answers, but we will promise to do our homework and get back to you with the right answer for you. When you work with us at ConnectUNow, you won’t have to talk to 10 different people to get help. We will take ownership of your request and follow through to your satisfaction.
The sales pitch I often heard that “we have hundreds (or even thousands!) of employees on staff,” never worked for me. I knew I’d only be dealing with a few, and those were the ones who mattered. At ConnectUNow, our motto “sales pitch” is that, when you hire us, you will get honest, hardworking, knowledgeable people, who are worth more than you’re paying for them.
— Juan C. Ballar