What clients of management consultants (really) want

When client organizations use external consulting services or compare consulting proposals, they expect or want to recognize added value. In the end, of course, it’s all about the return on consulting, which means that clients want to get more out of the results than they have invested in the consulting services. But since consulting is an intangible product, it revolves around customers’ expectations before a specific consulting service is provided.

It’s not only the expertise that matters…

A majority of the clients surveyed in the Cardea Consulting Market Trend Study in 2019 say that the greatest added value of a consultant lies in bringing in new impulses and perspectives and in providing new approaches and methods. Since client organizations already have a great deal of expertise in-house, the expectations to be fulfilled by external consultants go far beyond the contribution of specialist knowledge: mastering challenges in today’s client business environment calls for the ability of consultants to reduce complexity and uncertainty and to increase adaptability and speed.

Many clients are faced with the question of a fundamental reorientation of their business and therefore need the creative potential of external experts. They demand that consultants have the ability to quickly and comprehensively grasp and understand data and facts as well as to provide flexible and intensive support in developing and implementing solutions.

Not standardised best practice approaches…

The consulting industry has long thrived on international benchmark know-how and best practice methods. Today’s customers want to know little about these, as much of it has already been internalized in the organizations. Today, the focus is on individualized and solution-oriented consulting, adapted to the respective corporate situation of the customers. The consultant is no longer just a “trusted advisor” or “concept and knowledge supplier”, but a “co-creator“, “co-entrepreneur” or even “co-operator”. 1/3 of the customers see classical consulting companies in this role, 2/3 of the customers other providers, such as agencies or coaching providers.

New consulting formats and offerings are in trend…

More than 90% of customers believe that the landscape of solution providers is becoming larger and more diverse. 2/3 of those surveyed have already made use of innovative “consulting products” such as analysis tools, software as a service, self service consulting or remote consulting.

The reason for this are shifting customer needs in a changing market environment: More than 80% of the customers surveyed are increasingly looking for advisory services that create new consulting experiences, promise more cost-effective, more efficient, faster solutions, and leave more responsibility to the customers and offer more potential for self-enablement.

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