How Boutique Firms Win Clients Through Global Customer Service

Unearthing the human element of IT is often a challenge for clients, and more often than not, external consultants and vendors often struggle to effectively help the matter. And while all vendors should be working to offer clients a personable, business-centric approach to IT solutions, most end up falling short. In fact, the value of bringing a human face to the table can be a decisive factor in competing with larger global competitors armed with far larger resource pools.

Boutique IT firms, which can range from dozens to a few hundred members, are dwarfed in size by the 10,000+ member-firms with multiple strongholds in every continent and hundreds of countries. Yet by focusing on providing clients with strategically placed regional resources, stressing the importance of creating a consistent line of communication, and maintaining an adaptive approach to delivering solutions, boutiques can consistently compete with global rivals. And win.

Being local. Everywhere.

When taking on a client, the best small firms position themselves as a true IT consultancy. They approach every client with the intention of developing a partnership, and one of the ways they do this is through creating strategic operational centers that are located geographically near their key clients.

Physical proximity is certainly a differentiator given the number of vendors who rely completely on outsourcing. The ability to have project managers, analysts, and delivery experts on the ground to immerse themselves in a business is invaluable – even if it’s solely via a hybrid or near-shore-like model.

This can mean a number of things. It may mean developing temporary offices in order to work with clients during the strategy and project initiation phase. It can also mean shifting work schedules to account for differences in time zones when dealing with a company on the opposite side of the country. This concept extends further to adapting to a client’s jargon or even cultural needs to create a more compatible working environment.

The same strategists – day in, day out

People first, technology second. Successful boutique software firms know this is the best way to undertake any business technology project. One of the most difficult challenges with delivering technology solutions is communicating the value of a new application, system, or software. Firms have to focus on socializing solutions to fit the exact needs of the clients by providing a consistent team work on any one project. The success of a large-scale project doesn’t just require talented developers, it requires the best business strategists who can see any single project through from beginning to completion and maintenance.

Rather than a rotation of representatives communicating progress or expansion of scope, clients should be able to deal and coordinate with the same individuals from start to finish. A consistent set of faces personalizes the approach to developing technically demanding systems that require more than just competent lines of code. It provides immeasurable value and provides quality control in the face of success and pressure situations alike.

The best solution — not necessarily the most convenient

Closing accounts and delivering solutions may seem straightforward, but there is a definite difference between providing a solution that client wants and providing a solution that the client needs.

>Projects can evolve greatly from day one to delivery, and because business requirements evolve rapidly, the most successful boutiques are quick on their feet. In order to create beneficial services for businesses, sometimes a firm has to re-evaluate, reconfigure or re-engineer to create a more suitable system because their original plan does not truly provide operational value.

As a boutique firm, large-scale projects often change in scope, have a shifting set of client resources and a constantly morphing timeline, whereas the bureaucracy of larger organizations can certainly act as an impediment to adapting solutions in the midst of a project.  Medium-sized firms should be structured resource-wise to avoid these bottlenecks and wasted resources, allowing the project team to regroup as needed to satisfy the needs of their clients. Clients most value the ability to pivot resources as fast as their industries evolve, and the ability to make an agile shift in a changing landscape is always appreciated internally, even if not commended externally.

There is nothing altogether revolutionary about employing these strategies — the difficulty often comes purely down to execution. Yet, these are key tenets to servicing clients’ enterprise-scale software needs and making good on the promise of delivering better business through technology.

Originally featured on MediaPost.com

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