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If you had a chance to get everything you want from your club management system – what would you ask for? Don’t be afraid to speak up. Just as club professionals are always looking for the most efficient solution, software vendors are always looking to improve their products.

At the HFTP 2022 Club Summit last month, attendees were given the chance to create a veritable wish list in a new session called “Club Software: Time to Be Heard.” This session was designed to empower the large gathering of club professionals with a collective voice to tell technology vendors exactly what clubs want and need from their products and services right now. The discussion was coordinated by HFTP Club Advisory Council members Phil Guido, CHAE and Tom Smith, CHAE and moderated by Jeremy Hoch, president of Anchor Consulting Services, Inc.

Throughout the session, attendees voiced their opinions as to what would make them extremely satisfied with their current club software. They expressed desire for everything from a point-of-sale (POS) system that can be cloud-based or hosted remotely and accessed even when the Internet is down, to an easy-to-use bank reconciliation program (after all, how can something so simple be made so difficult sometimes?). Some of the most touched-upon topics during the discussion included software support, communication and third-party integration. Keep reading for some key points brought up during the session.

Ample software support is more than essential. Club professionals seek a better way to escalate ongoing software issues. Club technology providers should offer faster, more responsive service – either by phone, email or with an online chatbot service. Many attendees voiced their contention that 24/7 support is a must, so that emergent software issues can be addressed right away before interfering with business operations and customer service. And club professionals do not want a random person on the other line – something that can become an issue when technology vendors outsource their client support services to third-party sources.

Attendees also want vendors to be more proactive about their communications regarding upgrades and scheduling updates – which should be done at convenient times, and never during operating hours when they can disrupt work. Updates can frequently cause bugs (where previously working features suddenly stop functioning properly); and so, there should also be a dev site for testing updates before they go live.

Communication is key. As this session proved, club professionals like to be heard. Many attendees indicated their interest in annual user groups or workshops hosted by the technology vendors to help improve user proficiency in the software. One attendee indicated they specialize in systems management and would like to meet with other club software “super users” so these individuals could learn from each other rather than relying solely on training from vendors.

Attendees also advocated for better instructions and release notes to improve their skill and understanding of the software and its features. Furthermore, club professionals should be able to reference past support tickets in order to identify solutions to recurring problems quickly.

Third-party integration should be seamless. Many attendees agreed that different service providers often do not work well together. With multiple parties involved, a software issue can devolve into finger-pointing and playing the blame game and ultimately, it can be very unclear who should take ownership over what. Vendors should always be willing to communicate and collaborate with other vendors.

Following the productive discussion, a request list was drafted and sent to a handful of club vendors for their response. The ultimate goal is for this to be an ongoing project, including follow-up with vendors in a timely manner to see what changes are taking place and continuous solicitation of feedback from club professionals to help them achieve maximum satisfaction with their software.

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