In 2012 the Professional Association of Management Consulting Services Providers within the Austrian Chamber of Commerce had a research conducted by Gallup Institute, a renowned market research group among Austrian clients of management consulting services.
From July to September 2012 400 companies in Vienna and Lower Austria were interviewed.
- A majority of those interviewees, who had already bought management consulting services, had made use of services in the areas of organization, processes, quality, technology and logistics, followed by finance, marketing and coaching.
- Mediation has rarely been requested and only relevant for companies with more than 250 employees.
- Expert reports and training are also relevant to large companies. About one-fifth of clients claimed to regularly benefit from these services.
- According to their answers management consulting services are used between one and four times per year, one fifth of large companies with more than 250 employees make use of management consulting services more than 10 times a year.
- 41% of the customers are loyal to a provider, a further 24% have two providers, 32% more than three. While 54% of small businesses assign only one provider, 58% of large companies with more than 250 employees assign up to 3 and more management consulting services providers.
- The typical volume of annual assignments per year from small businesses is usually below 10,000,- Euro, from clients with about 50 employees the assignments reach up25.000,- Euro and even above this sum from clients with more than 250 employees.
- 83% of the clients of MCS prove to be satisfied with the services. Smaller clients show poorer reviews as they report that service performance often does not meet their expectations as implementation does not seem to be tailored to their business needs. Nevertheless satisfaction is in no area rated worse than 2.2 (from 5).
- As important trends for the future from the customers’ viewpoint the researchers identified the specialization of the consulting provider, a long-term partnership between consulting firm and its clients and the ability to provide external perspectives. Know-how transfer from the consulting service provider to the client also has substantial relevance. Networks within various consulting firms are regarded as the least important.
- When choosing a management consulting services provider clients obtain one to three bids. Among companies with 50 employees and more a majority obtains 3 offers per assignment.
- The decision for a particular provider is usually taken by the executive managers or the entrepreneur himself/herself (92%), in only a few companies department management is also involved.
- The most important criteria for purchasing decisions are coherent offers and plausible calculations, followed by personal linking during the first consultation and recommendations from business partners. Experience, a corresponding offering and specialization of the provider are also relevant. The provider’s prominence and a convincing web-site are the least relevant. Certifications and the provider’s track record only show significant relevance for companies with more than 50 employees.
- When assessing the providers’ marketing tools recommendations from business partners are ranking in first place followed by his/her engagement as a speaker at seminars and conferences and direct marketing. For smaller companies direct marketing is more important, whereas print media are more relevant for companies with more than 50 employees. Classic advertising in print or online media are less important.
- The consulting process being provided along a European standard is regarded to be relevant by one third of the management consulting clients without any variation between smaller or larger companies.
- National or international certifications of providers are regarded to be important by more than 50% of the clients; larger companies put even more emphasis on them.
- Every second customer is convinced that providers working in accordance with national or international standards provide more trust and reliability, among larger companies with more than 250 employees even three-quarters share this view.
These findings were compared to the results from a corresponding interview series among consulting providers (members of the Professional Association of Management and IT Consulting Services Providers).
The comparison shows: For clients of both, management as well as IT consulting services, a European standard is much more important (33% resp. 34% accordance) than for the member companies of the section. Among them the accordance is only half as high (17%).