In today's empowered customer world, enterprise software vendors must rethink their value propositions and the experience they deliver, as the converging forces of cloud, social media, mobile and big data have fundamentally altered the enterprise software sales process, according to a survey of around 6,000 U.S. consumers by PwC.
The study found customers are more likely to purchase from highly regarded companies and 84 percent will recommend a vendor after a great experience, suggesting software vendors should identify key influencers to serve as brand advocates and build communities among customers.
With 78 percent of companies now embracing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, companies are creating agile, streamlined environments which require software to support the flexible workplace. Furthermore, the report said businesses are moving away from traditional IT infrastructures to a flexible hybrid model that supports cloud computing, indicating software vendors should offer options to support mobility, but also need to selectively expand to new devices.
"Responses to our survey suggest that the days of large-scale sales and implementations are behind us and as a result, software vendors in this demand-driven environment are no longer able to mandate terms," Patrick Pugh, PwC's U.S. software and Internet leader, said in a statement. "Today's software customers have options and expect next-generation sales to be uniquely tailored to their needs and able to move at the pace with which they do business. To stay in the game, leading software vendors need to deepen relationships with customers and offer what they value most."
According to the survey, the advent of new user interfaces such as tablets and mobile devices are driving the focus toward interaction with the end user. Customization, adaptability and multichannel access are top of mind considerations for today's software end-user. The report suggests partnering with system integrators to achieve a smooth installation of software and additional features.
"Some of the top drivers of great customer experience for the software industry--smooth installation, prompt support and personalized attention--serve as powerful guides for other industries to follow in determining how to create meaningful experiences to drive long-term customer loyalty," Paul D'Alessandro, PwC's U.S. customer impact leader, said in a statement.
Creating long-term partnerships with customers by building credibility through reliable products and support will also be a critical component to a software vendor’s success, the report said. While support issues will invariably arise, PwC analysts advise that 24 hours is the window in which most customers want issue resolution, and suggest vendors conduct root-cause analysis on service issues and invest in processes and technology to help minimize errors.
The company’s report, "Experience Radar 2013: Lessons from the U.S. Software Industry" provides an analysis of behavioral profiles for the enterprise software segments, up and coming corporations, emerging empires and big business behemoths. In addition, the report outlines the small to medium-size business (SMB) category across three behavioral segments: mid-sized movers, elemental establishments and vivacious ventures.