It is always in the interest of software buyers and vendors to make software purchases as easy and cost effective as possible. Once a software vendor has a new client, it is important to make sure that client continues using the software.
Yet, according to our most recent membership management survey, roughly 41% of all respondents had switched from one membership management software system to another. That is nearly half of all respondents switching from their previous system for whatever reason.
It is important for software vendors to understand the initial desires of software buyers and why those concerns may change when some decide to switch from their current system to a new system. Here are the top three reasons membership management software users switch.
What are users’ initial concerns?
Before we explore why a user might switch, it is important to understand their initial concerns when selecting their software option. According to our survey, the top three factors in making the decision to purchase were ease of use, functionality, and price. These were followed by concerns of support, company reputation, training, and popularity.
It’s not surprising that nonprofits, which are held back by budgetary constraints due to their entire organizations running on donations, are concerned about the price and ease of use for their software choices. Many nonprofits don’t have the money to spend on large IT teams in order to attend to all issues that may arise with the software, and therefore rely on easy-to-use software.
What is surprising is the lower concern for support and training, since not all nonprofits have the money to afford their own IT teams. Perhaps not enough effort is being made on the part of vendors to stress the importance of training and support so that switches aren’t made.
Why do membership management software users switch?
While software buyers are more concerned with ease of use, functionality, and price at the start, what is striking is the shift in concerns before the software is purchased and when a client is seeking to switch.
Now that these software buyers have had experience with one software option, their priorities have slightly shifted away from ease of use and functionality to a higher priority placed on features, cost, and support.
1. Previous software didn’t have the right features
The largest pools of respondents for the survey reported that it either took two-to-four weeks or four-to-six weeks to find their membership management software choice.
In addition to the amount of time taken to find their software choice, more than half of our respondents told us that they only participated in two demos before making their software purchase.
What does all of this have to do with respondents switching due to a lack of features?
What these numbers indicate is an inadequate amount of time being spent on the part of buyers educating themselves on their software purchase and an inadequate amount of time spent by vendors teaching their buyers about the features offered by their software option.
In addition to a lack of education on the part of buyers, further numbers indicate that software vendors aren’t responding to changes in customer desires and trends for new features.
For example, a 2014 Smart Insights survey found that mobile users had surpassed desktop computer users globally, yet, in our survey we found that 20% of respondents desired mobile app functions for their membership management software. Respondents also signalled desires for donation acceptance, custom web design, and a member discussion board.
Lacking features was the highest reason for switching membership management software at 20% of respondents and by exploring new features desired by clients, vendors can stem the flow of users to other software options by a significant margin.
2. Previous software was too expensive
As explained before, nonprofits are limited in the amount of money they have access to due to their organization running wholly on donations. Most nonprofits try to minimize administrative costs while putting as much as they can towards programs and advocacy in favor of their cause.
When looking at the spread of expected and actual cost for membership management software, the graph tends to lean heavier to the more expensive end of the cost spectrum.
These numbers are surprising considering the fact that despite nonprofits being the largest user of membership management software, even when not including religious organizations, which are typically nonprofit, the cost scale is tilted in favor of expensive software.
Nonprofits and religious organizations make up 39% of the membership management user pie, yet these organizations tend to spend less on software than their for profit counterparts. In fact, our survey found that 21% of organizations which did not qualify for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status spent more on membership management software than their nonprofit counterparts.
This data shows a contradictory set of software costs when paired with the largest consumer base for membership management software. More consideration ought to be taken into making software more affordable for traditional nonprofits and religious organizations.
3. Previous software didn’t provide good support
The lack of good support from software vendors made an uptick in priority from number four to number three once software users had experienced their first purchase and sought a new system entirely.
Once users have become familiar with the standard bells and whistles provided by software vendors, they realize that they will need outside support to keep the bells and whistles functioning. If a software vendor provides the platform but not the maintenance to keep it running, then it is no better than a car without a mechanic around to fix the kinks and breakdowns.
Either software buyers are not taking the due time to explore tech support options or software vendors are simply neglecting the potential to offer tech support, there is clearly a breakdown between clients and vendors. The truth is, as humans we don’t necessarily know what we want or need until the time comes when we need it, and this can be aptly applied to tech support since repairs aren’t on a client’s mind until something breaks down.
In order to bridge this gap, software vendors ought to place a measure of importance on educating their clients on the importance of seeking out decent tech support (and, of course, they should offer their own as well!). The small cost of fixing a bug or breakdown sure beats the larger cost of abandoning a system to seek out a brand new one, just like replacing a broken taillight is cheaper than buying a whole new car.
Has your nonprofit had to switch from one software option to another? Why did you do it and did it work out better in the end? Let us know in the comments below!