The Software Bureau Annual Benchmark 2018

The Software Bureau is the renowned leader in data processing, sortation and Mailmark software. More than 125 organisations rely on Cygnus, SwiftSort and GeMMA as the backbone of their data services function. The business has its roots in the mailing industry where the founders built software for their own data processing needs before branching out to become a software vendor for the rest of the industry. To ensure the business remains acutely focused on those real-world needs of data professionals, The Software Bureau publishes an annual benchmark customer survey. They asked customers to provide feedback about everything from product capabilities, to support response times and industry trends. The results for this year are in!

Why Clients Choose The Software Bureau Over Competitors

The most popular answer for choosing The Software Bureau over our competitors was the unique functionality offered by our software. Ease of use and being a previous user were also prominent answers. During the past 20 years The Software Bureau has introduced functions for just about any possible data processing brief. Advanced deduplication, seeding, merging, deceased and goneaway suppression give clients confidence to tackle even the most challenging brief.  Many users of Cygnus data processing suite continue to cite the ability to build data processing jobs using a canvas-like graphical user interface as the most intuitive method of working with data to clearly visualise processing and minimise errors.

Moving into the future, we have a comprehensive range of Swift branded products being released to complement SwiftSort, which has been available for the past few years. These products are targeting primarily but not exclusively, at the automation market. Our data hygiene solution is supported by our ground breaking SwiftCore application, a cloud based data processing platform. Please get in touch for further information about any of these solutions.

 

Customer Satisfaction

You may have heard the question ‘How likely are you to recommend this product to a colleague or friend’. The average response to this question was 8.3 out of 10 with 30 of the 55 respondents awarding The Software Bureau a 9 or 10.

The support team also fared well achieving an average of 8.7 out of 10 for responsiveness and 8.4 for knowledge. These figures are very slightly down on last year, where they were 8.9 and 8.7 respectively, and I would hope this is purely a consequence of new members of the team coming on board and obviously needing time to build their knowledge and learn the complexities of our software and the industry. In addition, there have been new initiatives in the last 12 months such as Joint Industry Committee, plus the introduction of GDPR – our support team are required and expected to understand the nuances of such things which again, can take a little time.

Whilst we are not complacent, we should grab the opportunity to bang the drum and share positive feedback with our customers. Of the 55 respondents, 41 wrote a specific, and very positive comment about our support and customer service. Thank you.

We also received a few negative comments and whilst we don’t really like them – does anyone? – we recognise we are not perfect, will take criticism on the chin, and try and make amends. The main issues cited were lack of automation in Cygnus, a ‘dated’ user interface, and the recent price increase.

Usage and Industry Trends

Sentiment among users of The Software Bureau products remains strong for the next 12 months. Of the 52 Cygnus users who participated, 44 expect their use of Cygnus to increase or stay the same in the coming 12 months. Of the 11 SwiftSort users, 9 expected their use to increase or stay the same, and 30 of the 35 GeMMA users expected their usage of the product to increase or stay the same.

As per last year, clients cited a wide variety of business challenges from GDPR, to volume and margin pressures facing their organisations. In addition, uncertainty over Brexit and political concerns also featured. This uncertainty is making it more pivotal than ever to ensure high value data services remain the differentiator for mailing businesses and data bureaux.

What was particularly reassuring was the number of respondents that expected the level of data processing work and mailing campaigns to increase. 19 of the 26 respondents who answered the question ‘Why do you think your use of Cygnus will increase?’ cited an increase in data processing. The other reasons were non-specific business growth rather than a growth in data work itself.

How We Can Improve Cygnus?

Although the responses were overwhelmingly positive, there are always areas where The Software Bureau can improve. Two topics mentioned more than any others were documentation, and speed of processing. We admit our documentation is somewhat out of date, and we have been undertaking the ongoing process of updating them. More technical tips and tricks videos will also be produced in due course.

How We Can Improve SwiftSort?

The handling of Unicode was mentioned a couple of times and this is being addressed in a future, all new version of our sort engine. We also recognise that upgrades to SwiftSort tend to follow those released into the Cygnus sort engine and again, this should be resolved with the new engine once released.

How We Can Improve GeMMA?

The main comment here was related to lack of automation. GeMMA can be automated via command line so those users will be contacted individually to detail how this is done.

Resources

The overwhelming request from our customers was for more ‘Tips and Tricks’ webinars and videos. This will be made a priority moving forward and we apologise that this area has been neglected over the previous 12 months or so.

GDPR

It was very reassuring that of the 55 respondents, all but one said they were already compliant or were working towards it, and that one respondent’s answer seemed to be down to not knowing rather than not actually being non-compliant.

Follow Up

The Software Bureau will be contacting all clients who have responded to answer any specific queries raised and where relevant, to discuss more detail about product functionality, future development, and training plans in the coming months.

And finally……. The Winner Is

As a thank you for participating in the survey The Software Bureau entered each respondent into a prize draw to win £100 Amazon voucher. Naturally, a Cygnus USP (user specified process) called ‘Prize Draw’ was used to randomly select the winner. The lucky person randomly selected was Neil Grover of Metromail in Seaham, County Durham. The voucher is on its way to Neil.

By |2018-08-22T15:15:43+00:00August 22nd, 2018|

About the Author:

Mark entered the DM business in 1986 at the Sudbury based Prolog. Since then Mark has worked for many companies including GWC, Olwen Direct Mail, Olwen International in Baltimore. In 2000 Mark took the role of Client Services Director at The Software Bureau helping users of Cygnus, SwiftSort and GeMMA make the most of the software.