6 April 2016
The trend towards converged communications is steadily increasing, with more and more businesses looking for these solutions. According to our Connected Business Report, approximately a third (32%) of surveyed businesses say that they have converged totally. As well as this, 56% have partially converged, only holding back from full unification because of existing contracts with various providers tying them in.
The move towards unification makes sense for consumers. It is cheaper to package everything together, and a single bill makes the admin easier. But bundling voice, mobile, data and maintenance also works for telecommunications resellers, who stand to benefit from providing more services and better customer relationships.
Here are five ways to see how your single service solution stacks up.
Part of the appeal of unified services is that telecommunications becomes easier to manage. Many smaller organisations are time poor and taking care of the monthly billing for all of their different services takes more time than necessary.
For unified packages to stand out, channel partners’ billing capabilities must be first class. It’s an area in which your provider should support you by providing training and advice on how to make billing simple, for you and for your customers.
There will be few things more frustrating to a customer moving onto a unified package than a service dip. Especially if they were enjoying good service levels with their multiple un-converged products.
The simple answer for resellers is to make sure that they are confident in offering an exceptional service before entering the market with a new solution. That doesn’t just mean knowing that a new mobile product, for example, works. But knowing that you can provide instant trouble-shooting, business continuity and device support – backing it all up with a service level agreement (SLA).
In an information age, no business is likely to accept a lack of clarity around what they are buying. And if a channel partner can’t clearly outline their service portfolio, they are likely to lose out to one that can.
Unfortunately, there are many different definitions of what convergence actually is. To get your offering understood speak to your provider about how they define convergence. If their pitch isn’t clear enough, perhaps consider working with another.
Buying the right thing
The ownership of lines and networks can have a massive impact on how suppliers can assure quality and remedy faults. And not every provider is the same. There is a crucial difference in product offerings that every channel partner should be aware of.
While some own the lines that they are selling to channel partners and end users, others do not. Providers that fall into the latter category are reliant on a middle-man to address any issues with the line. It means that their SLAs are subject to their line owner’s, and more uncertainty for you as a channel partner.
Sales and installation is one thing, but to ensure a positive and profitable continuing customer relationship, channel partners must provide good aftercare. Hiring expert staff, taking advantage of provider-led training and assigning point people for each customer are good steps. But no channel partner selling unified comms should underestimate the importance of 24-hour phone support.
Offering bundled communications packages can mean big business for channel partners and hugely beneficial for customers and prospects alike. But without a comprehensive, well-defined and high standard offering, your unified solution will not work for anyone.
The key to success is a good provider relationship that touches all areas of the communications package. From training and supply, to billing and aftercare.
6 April 2016 | Justin Coombes
The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.