Vendors forced to improve customer care

Software vendors who do not listen to end users in the current market downturn will not survive, analysts and IT managers warned this week.

Lack of after-sales support and vendors selling products that are of no real benefit to the customer's business will be ditched by end users who are placing suppliers under the microscope as a result of shrinking IT budgets.

IDC software market research analyst Grace Lai said there is a prevalent practice by vendors to "sell a box of software, get someone to install it and walk away".

End users soon complain the software hasn't delivered what the vendor promised and Lai said customer's don't forget this when it's time to develop the software or re-assess suppliers.

"Customers are driving a real change in the market where software vendors are being forced to turn to a services model," she said.

"Australian research shows customers are not just selecting vendors based on cost and functionality but also after-sales contact."

Lai said this will force software vendors to extend service offerings to current customers and improve communication channels.

While the application software market is expected to top $US8.5 billion worldwide by 2004, IDC predicts that "related services" will be almost twice the size, at $US16.3 billion, in the same period.

"This represents some significant gains for vendors, particularly those in the enterprise application market to expand revenue streams," Lai said.

An IT manager from a financial services firm who spoke to CW agreed promises aren't always kept because vendors are more concerned with the sale.

"Im reducing the number of vendors I deal with and just dealing with those that are actually interested in my business, not just making promises," he said.

Lai said when it is time to grow customer's assess the level of after sale support received by showing hip-pocket restraint.

"Ultimately end users are the big winners in the current downturn. They will force vendors to develop a services manifesto."

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