How many times have you been promised the world by slick marketers, only to be severely disappointed with the actual delivery? No wonder we have all become cynical.
Honest feedback from existing software users can be an extremely important factor in making your decision. The key word is "honest". Most vendor websites will have a section for customer testimonials and reference clients. Take a look at these, but take them for what they are worth: Most vendors carefully selected the best comments and most gushing customers. Some vendors even go so far as to change the wording or make up reviews! This is not necessarily the case for every vendor. For example, at Wild Apricot, we publish a full list of raw comments from our regular customer review - the good, the bad (grammar), and the ugly!
So how do you find out what's the real deal?
Start with a Google search. Look for "XX software user reviews" or even "software XX sucks". You may have to wade through many pages of search results to find useful and unbiased places of user feedback.
How do you know when you find genuine feedback?
- Reviews on third-party sites (not controlled by vendor) are usually better. For example, capterra.com allows anybody to submit user reviews for software.
- Look for places where you see balanced feedback - good and bad. If you only see good reviews, it might not be authentic. If it is all bad, you might be looking at a special case - there are always difficult situations and frustrated customers for any software product.
Also, beyond the testimonials page, be sure to check out the software discussion forums. Even if they are hosted by the vendor, take some time to read through them and see what people are asking and complaining about - and how the vendor responds.