Adding value to software delivery services

Empathy and a well-defined strategy are essential to delight clients in the service we provide them.

Recently, in a consulting project for a specific client, we used the Kano model as a guide to conduct our account strategy. This was a slight distortion of the original use of the model, which was thought for product development; we believe, however, that this subversion is legit, since it was very useful.

The idea was to think of three kinds of attributes of our services, focusing on client satisfaction:

  1. Basic attributes. These are the “must-be’s” of the service, which cannot be absent. Without these attributes, the product or service is simply incomplete. For this client, it meant delivering a system which would integrate multiple components in a single payment flow. The application that solves this client’s problem is now in production.
  2. Performance attributes. These are what adds perceived value to a product or service at the proportion that they exist. In general, at TW we continuously deliver quality software in an agile manner, transforming the client’s processes while doing it. Clients usually call us expecting some of these attributes. For this last project, we helped the client in seeing the benefits of test automation and of sending quality code to production. The client was satisfied with our architecture, which allows for rapidly plugging new components in.
  3. The delighters. These are the surprising elements, the ones the client could not anticipate but which add greater satisfaction. To be able to deliver delighters, we need to deeply know the client and search for components which were not explicitly asked for, trying to understand the hidden needs of the client. For this specific client, it was a beautiful javascript code which was pluggable to their architecture, connected to the product development pipeline, and which would allow for other users (which the client did not think of in the beginning) to enter the system. Besides that, we did two API endpoints so the client could have access to usage metrics on the payments flowing through the system, pointing them in the direction of a data based organization.
  4. Indifferent attributes. These are the aspects that the client is oblivious to, and which don’t add value directly, but that can be important for consultants. In our case, the team often went out for meals, happy hours at pubs, or took walks to different bakeries in the neighborhood together. This didn’t make any difference for the client, but it made the team more integrated and happy.

The best part is that we did that intentionally, planning our backlog to get there. Empathy with the client, good use of strategic thinking and constant adaptation of processes and methods, these are the key capabilities for software projects, specially when it comes to consulting.