To the untrained eye watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi, some sporting events appear more complex, more tactical or more skillful than others, prompting debate over whether some gold medals are harder won than others.

A common joke is that the only strategy for the bobsled run is ‘lie flat and try not to die’ when in fact it requires nerves of steel and a precise combination of skill and physics. The same goes for curling, while many are oblivious to the finer points of sweeping, serious fans regard curling as ‘chess on ice.’

In every sport, as in business, it is not just tactics, training and technique that have a bearing on success but also technology, talent and trends. It was these particular 3 x ‘T’s that Matthew Poyiadgi, Managing Director of Pearson VUE highlighted in an insightful presentation to Industry Council. Referring to the role technology plays in changing society, he cited compelling statistics that illustrate the speed at which our world is changing - including the fact that the number of texts sent every day now surpasses seven billion - more than the number of people in the world.

On a global scale, consumers’ capacity and inclination to communicate is growing exponentially, posing challenges to organisations trying to keep pace with an avalanche of contact across every channel. Like skiers, we need to ensure we stay well ahead of the avalanche.

The way we use technology to communicate is changing - half the time a phone isn’t used as a phone. Matthew’s view is that SmartApps which gather intelligence on our behavioural patterns will predict our behaviour in future as technology helps to make service more personal.

But in the midst of exciting technological advances we need to consider whether our people and our processes are geared up to meet altered service expectations. We also need to understand what consumers want and are concerned about in an altered service environment.

Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos MORI describes today’s consumers as highly anxious, nervous about the use of their personal data, obsessively checking their mobile devices, and clear that customer service is increasingly important to them. He also sees the march of the smartphone creating profound behavioural change as the percentage of the population who have them has jumped in four years to 60% from just 10%.

In this context, consulting customers and communicating their views throughout the organisation is critical if we are to deliver the service they expect. One organisation which has just announced a major public consultation is the Co-Operative Bank who we are delighted to welcome on board as the newest member of Industry Council.

Group CEO Euan Sutherland has launched a wide-reaching public poll on the group’s future, admitting candidly that in recent years the Co-Op had lost touch with its customers, members and the communities it serves - he is determined to remedy that.

Customer consultation is one way to check that you are getting things right but it is not enough in itself. That requires a focus on the fourth ‘T’ - transition. It refers not just to transition in the marketplace and in consumer behaviour but also within our own organisations.

One of the biggest and most common stumbling blocks to progress in customer service is the existence of operational silos within organisations. We need to break down silo walls in order to pull together as a single team focused on the customer.

It is important to have a realistic understanding of where you stand currently in the transition process. That is where CCA Global Standard© Version 6 comes in as a new tool designed for the modern marketplace with a powerful new benchmarking element designed to help companies through the process of transition.

In the 12 years since we launched the first version of Global Standard© we have continued to hone it and adapt it to changing circumstances. In sporting parlance, it really is now the ultimate team coach, helping organisations keep up with new dynamics at play and to benchmark themselves against others so that they can achieve peak performance.

In a rapidly-changing and highly competitive environment, Global Standard© is an important part of the strategic formula needed to achieve gold standard service.