Lehman Associates recently conducted a comprehensive survey of use and satisfaction of AMS systems across the association industry. The AMS study was based on findings from online surveys distributed to nearly all US-based associations with an annual budget of at least $1M. Nearly three quarters of the associations surveyed were using commercial association management software. Despite less than stellar client satisfaction scores, the study found that client retention rates remain high.
On average, respondents who were currently using association management software rated their systems 5.6 out of 10 across 29 distinct categories – a mediocre rating at best (Euclid’s client ratings are far better than that…but more on why that is later).
The individual product elements that received the best reviews – basic reporting capabilities, customer self-service, ease of use, website/CMS integration, and support – are considered base functionality by most AMS providers. The worst reviewed product elements included mobile delivery options, social media capabilities, sales force automation, engagement scoring, 360 degree member records, and executive dashboard.
Despite these mediocre satisfaction ratings, 60% of associations chose to stay with their current AMS provider. This is due largely to the high financial cost and resource drain of implementing a new product. As a result, this trend is likely to continue.
Low Satisfaction with Mobile Offerings:
One of the most fascinating findings of the Lehman study was the low client satisfaction scores given to “mobile delivery/app options.” In fact, of the 29 product attributes measured, mobile scored dead last. In the 2013 Lehman study, 63% of survey respondents identified mobile capabilities as an important or very important factor in their AMS buying process.
This is not a surprising finding. Both members and staff are increasingly engaging with their associations “on-the-go”, and AMS systems need to adapt to the change. This observation is one of the reasons Euclid has been working for years to develop both CV Mobile Member and CV Mobile Team, two mobile applications that allow users to engage with their association from anywhere, at anytime.
Importance of Customer Relationship Management
AMS users also deemed customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities to be extremely important in choosing the right association management software. 86% of respondents considered CRM capabilities to be important in their decision making process. Additionally, users overwhelmingly prefer CRM capabilities to be included as part of the AMS system as opposed to integrating a CRM application with their AMS, having a CRM in place of an AMS or using separate CRM and AMS systems.
One of the key benefits of a quality AMS system is the ability to store all of your association’s data in one place and then using that data to better manage and understand your membership. The second part of that equation is as important as the first – storing all of your data in one place is only valuable if your AMS has the CRM capabilities to put that data back to work.
Engagement and CRM have been a main focus of the Euclid development team for years. ClearVantage uses the data points it tracks for members to generate a custom member engagement score depending on what interactions the client believes are most valuable. ClearVantage 9 features new social media tools that allow associations to track their social engagement directly out of their AMS. CV9 also includes the Online Marketplace which allows users to download and install new reports and business intelligence directly from ClearVantage (e.g., predesigned attendee badges; interactive business intelligence gadgets that allow users to “drill down” into reports and view more detailed information).
The Lehman Associates study reaffirms many well known facts about the association management software industry. Mainly, that users across the association industry are less than satisfied with their AMS providers, but the high cost of switching has kept client retention rates high.
Euclid is proud to say that we buck the trend of mediocre satisfaction rates. In fact, 88% of ClearVantage users would recommend their AMS on ReviewMyAMS.comcompared to a website average of only 58%. Why is that? We believe it’s because we pay very close attention to what’s going on with technology and develop products like ClearVantage 9 and CV Connect that make effective use of new trends (like social media; mobile applications; etc). We also listen to our clients (listening is an underrated skill) and pride ourselves on excellent, responsive customer support. Our partnerships with clients last long after the go live and include not just upgrades, but ongoing projects with clients to develop new online functionality, train new users and provide timely reports that make best use of their data.
What do you think is the key to developing a positive long term relationship with an AMS provider? Do the findings in the Lehman study resonate with you? Let us know in the comments below!