These customers are particularly demanding because they do not have in-depth financial knowledge, but they do need to be able to formulate professional accounts.
On top of this, small businesses and sole traders rarely have a large IT budget. The combination of these challenges mean that this award is as fiercely contested as any.
In the end, the judges opted for Simply Books, which was also the successful winner of the same category in last year’s Accountancy Age Awards.
The product continues to impress the panel of judges, and despite strong competition, it won the award unanimously. The judges believe that Simply Books has made ‘excellent progress since last year’ and that the product ‘hits the spot’.
The experts say: ‘The product represents stunning value for money, and the company offers great customer service.’
Brand recognition is vital in this market, and Simply Books has been extremely successful in maintaining a strong brand.
The judges are particularly pleased by its reliability and the quality of its customer service. The company is so confident about the reliability of its product, that it annually budgets for just 10 minutes of telephone support per user.
To reinforce this belief, the company has put its money where its mouth is and includes support as part of the £100 price. Despite this, support is still offered between 9am and 9pm, seven days a week.
The growth of the company has also been staggering. While Simply Books had just 200 customers in March 2002, it now provides accountancy software to more than 2,100 users.
In response to an ongoing customer survey carried out by the company, 100% of respondents were either pleased or very pleased with the software and the provision of support.
Part of the strength of Simply Books is that the company has a clear objective as to what its software is required to do, and targets new functions in response to user demands.
‘In the coming year, we are launching version 3,’ the company says. ‘This will have some new features – items most requested by our customers – but it will mainly be angled at improving simplicity of use.’
To help provide an easy learning curve for new users, transactions will be entered on an interface modelled on a spreadsheet, which provides a familiar starting point. Transactions do not need to be completed to be saved, which greatly cuts down on frustration and mistakes.
Next year could be a very interesting one for Simply Books. After PC World started to stock its software, it was sold by Dabs.com, Amazon and Staples.
The company is also in advanced negotiations with WH Smith, which it believes will help more entry-level people to switch to accountancy software.
OTHER SHORTLISTED CANDIDATES:
- Benchmark Software, Chancellor
- Sage, Sage Line 50.
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