Be Great in a Few Things

Investing in core competencies

Today’s clientele are savvy and smart, and most of them wear x-ray glasses that can see right through inexperience from a mile away. In the world of Information Technology (IT), no organization can possibly know it all or be an expert in everything. Technology today is too complex, ever changing, and moving at a very high rate of speed. For these reasons, clients expect us to say, “No, we don’t specialize in that,” more than we have ever said it before. Furthermore, organizations that specialize and invest in being great in a few things have the best chance of securing long-term relationships with clients built on proven performance.
In my last blog, we explored the customer service pillar of flexibility in the context of what customers are expecting from IT Solution providers today. As a reminder, I am writing from a customer service roadmap called CustomerFIRST where the word FIRST is an acrostic:

    • Flexible
    • Invested
    • Responsive
    • Strategic
    • Trusted

 

This week I am addressing the 2nd pillar of successful customer service: Invested.
I recognize how difficult it can be to get a meeting with a prospect in the first place and the last thing any of us want to do is walk out of her office without something to pursue. At the same time, a discovery discussion about needs and challenges followed by a crisp, clear description of what your organization is great at, creates the foundation for a future partnership, even if that partnership does not start right now. On the flip side, selling beyond our headlights creates a very likely “one and done” experience with a lot of potential risk. Clients just aren’t willing to put up with this type of experience today. They demand quality and success on the first engagement – period.
The winning Customer Service approach is to be crystal clear about what your organization is great at and stick to what is right in the center of your wheelhouse. Only expand your offerings when you can invest in those areas of expertise in a meaningful way.
Invest ZunesisThe second key component of this new customer service approach requires all of us to be highly networked so that we can refer other organizations or partners to serve the immediate needs of the client. Above all else, a true IT Solution Provider desires to make the lives of their clients better. Therefore, if an IT Solution Provider knows of a company that can do what a client needs, he is obliged to refer the client to that organization. The development of an IT-Solution ecosystem is essential to being a true IT Solution partner today.
Current Social Media tools like LinkedIn provide a simple and fast way to establish meaningful IT Solution ecosystems. I personally have seen the power of this connected ecosystem in recent months in helping client of ours find new jobs, find new employees, and get solutions to IT challenges that my organization was not able to provide. I sincerely believe that this approach of “making the lives of our client better,” even when we don’t cash the check, creates strong client relationships.
Many organizations will see this approach as a way to help their competition and will shy away from embracing the IT Solution ecosystem approach. While I completely understand this line of thinking, I believe it is short sighted and very 1990’s.
In summary, the successful organizations know what their strengths are and they invest heavily in their success, evolution, and maturation. Investing includes training, focus, intentionality, and limitations on scope and expertise. To provide additional services and areas of expertise, today’s IT Solution Providers are encouraged to reach outside the walls of their own organization to partner with other companies that do what they do not. This is the best way to serve customers in 2015.
Next week we will explore the importance of being Responsive and how speed of action has expanded into many other facets of business.
Until we meet again, I wish you the very best in your efforts to serve customers in the ways they wish to be served.

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