While hosted telephony is enjoying a solid period of growth, there are two trends that, together, present resellers with a significant challenge. Firstly, the focus across most offerings today is price, with little real differentiation. Secondly, the ways in which businesses communicate are changing; the proportion of business transacted through a telephone is diminishing, meaning that it is no longer the high value, core communication mechanism for most businesses that it once was. Ultimately, this means business communication is increasingly positioned as an area ripe to reduce overheads, rather than one to differentiate and add business value.
Here are some of the most effective ways that resellers can maintain high margins, build a more loyal client base and increase average revenue per user (ARPU) with hosted Unified Communications (UC).
- Go beyond white labelling to differentiate – white labelling alone won’t always cut it with today’s savvy buyers who can perceive it as anti-competitive and inflexible. Resellers with successful long term strategies can still use their brand to differentiate, but instead of simply putting their logo on a user interface, they demonstrate their own unique brand via their expertise and values. They’ve taken steps to find the best solution for each customer, and can demonstrate confidence in their propositions by being transparent about what they’re selling, and how they utilise that to add value.
- Consider value innovation principles – rather than focusing on on simply beating the nearest competition, resellers can take a ‘value innovation’ approach – where they create demand for something new. This is far more effective as it renders competition irrelevant. If a reseller can learn from the unmet needs and desires of its ‘most important customer’ profile and not be constrained by its current skillset, people or products, it can develop and deliver much more compelling and valuable services and propositions. Yet, value innovations rarely occur without making changes to product too. For hosted UC resellers, product is hard to control and change, so it’s important they choose a platform that can provide the flexibility to add value and develop a proposition that is in line with their customers’ needs.
- Think wider than UC by adding context – end users, and indeed resellers, are becoming more frustrated with a major flaw in the way that many UC tools are built: instead of unifying, often they’re both built, and operate, in silos. Successful resellers will seek to move up the value chain by looking beyond chat or the phone call and instead adding context to their proposition. Contextual communication delivers simple experiences within the context of what someone is doing. For example, apps that embed a video or chat function within a web page allow efficient and frictionless communications in the context of what that page is all about. For resellers it enables them to offer open, joined up solutions that allow people to interact with businesses, customers and the real world using all, and any, available media.
- Pave the way for long term loyalty rather than lock-in – A fundamental factor in earning customer loyalty is for trusted resellers to protect their customers’ interests and continue to meet requirements. This means maintaining as much control and flexibility as possible, particularly with regard to key areas such as sale prices and contract lengths. Resellers must ensure they maintain this control throughout the contract period, rather than just at the beginning or end, so they are empowered to deal with changing requirements as the customer grows, or as circumstances change. An example of this might be having a choice over how the solution is deployed or rolled out, and the ability to migrate to something else.
Unified communications has long provided opportunities for resellers, but the game is changing with digital transformations and changing customer behaviour. There is far less value and opportunity in simple telephony solutions today, so to effectively differentiate and add value, resellers need to begin building out new value propositions that map onto this change and embrace the flexibility needed to meet different customer requirements.
Guest blog by Rob Pickering, CEO at IPCortex.