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One for the AMS Vendors: Get PROACTIVE

I was trading emails with my colleague (and fellow AMS consultant) George Breeden recently, and he raised an issue that I’ve long felt was missing from essentially every AMS vendor out there. George put it this way:

The vendors should be taking proactive steps to maintain and build the relationships, not just in a reactive manner when they think the client is leaving – it’s too late then. I would suggest that part of the package would be a yearly gap assessment and recalibration (training, BI, usage, etc) to help make sure the organization was getting the most of out the AMS system. If they were smart, they wouldn’t charge for it either.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and I would add the following, which I’ve suggested to some of the AMS vendors. Every AMS vendor should have a client ombudsman. The ombudsman’s job is to reach out to every single client on a regular basis, to get a sense of what the client is doing, how happy or unhappy they are with the AMS product, and what kinds of issues the vendor should be focusing on.

The reality is that the vast majority of associations that I talk to feel like they’re out there on their own when it comes to their AMS. They feel like the only time their vendor listens is whent they’re spending money. I’m always harping about how associations need to view this as a long-term relationship (see here, for example). Perhaps I need to start harping on the vendors, too.

For associations: What do you think? Is your AMS vendor paying attention?

For vendors: What do you think? Why can’t you implement these ideas?

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  • Andy

    No, my vendor is not paying attention. They invited some of us to their office for a meeting, saying they wanted to get feedback. When we started expressing our frustrations they just pushed us back to our resellers.

    Not, in my mind, a good way to build relationships with customers paying you tens of thousands of dollars each year.

  • Wes Trochlil

    >>When we started expressing our frustrations they just pushed us back to our resellers.

    Well, that’s not exactly the kind of response we’re looking for, now is it? Especially if they invited you for feedback.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

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“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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