Association managers have a deep and complicated relationship with their AMS provider, similar to buying a home. There’s a lot of shopping, a lot of discussion, several tours and definitely some convincing before purchase. Then there’s the financial and contractual commitment, accompanied by the fact that you just don’t want to go through the hassle of moving after a year.
But just like your house, problems can crop up with your AMS from time to time. As homeowners, you likely file dripping faucets or a blown light bulb on the mental “to-do” list, but you know not to ignore a roof leak or a raccoon in the attic. The same goes for your AMS. Some problems are okay with a work-around for a little while, but there are some that are classic indicators of pending disaster if they’re not handled.
Here they are:
1) Terrible customer service
Besides being a general warning flag for any company, bad customer service with an AMS is particularly painful. Often there’s an understanding or knowledge gap between the complete utilization of the software and the association executives' understanding, which makes sense. Association pros hardly ever start their careers as software engineers. Usually an extra explanation or training is needed, and maybe occasionally the product itself is acting up.
What small staff association leaders really need is someone to pick up the phone and work with them through the problems, whatever they may be in a timely fashion. A company who only provides blanket responses, who has slow response times, or who continues speaking computer-language to a person who doesn’t understand to begin with isn’t great customer service to a person who needs an issue handled and then move on.
2) Constant service interruptions
Can you imagine owning a house where things constantly broke? Would you buy that house to begin with? An AMS is not like an investment property for you to come in, experience the hiccups, and fix and move on. It’s not for you to fix. For you, it just needs to work. Service interruptions happen with software of any kind; even Google goes down every once in awhile. But when you are having difficulty getting work done on a regular basis it’s a problem.
3) No matter how hard you and your AMS try, it just doesn’t fit
If you’re missing a major feature or are constantly butting against the ceiling or walls, chances are that’s not going to get better any time soon. Not every AMS is a perfect fit for every association. It takes a lengthy and careful sales process to figure that out!
4) You change; the AMS stays the same
Your association grows and changes every day. You need an AMS that can keep up and continue to suit your needs even as they get bigger and more complicated. Sometimes that looks like a product or service upgrade, but sometimes it looks like a change in provider altogether. The best way to handle that is to call your AMS and ask them about the additional services or features you need to handle your growing membership, additional events, or whatever great developments your association may be facing.
5) Nobody else likes it
No matter how much you like it, if it doesn’t suit most of your members it doesn’t suit your association. You must have an AMS platform that your members can use easily. Otherwise, what’s the point?
As always with associations, this is all highly subjective. What works for one won’t necessarily work for all associations out there! It’s up to you to contact your AMS and have a frank and honest conversation about your needs, wants, and concerns. If there’s a big problem, ask about it.
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