Why it's time to reconnect with customers, by Mark Curtis-Wood, Group Sales & Marketing Director, Vaioni Wholesale

Vaioni Wholesale serves the needs of over 600 channel partners, which means we provide robust connectivity and a range of associated services to a huge number of end user businesses.

Those organisations come in many shapes and sizes, and operate in sectors from retail and media to manufacturing and property management. Some of them will be weathering the current Covid storm well, while others might be struggling to survive. All of them will be concerned about what the next few months might bring.

As a channel business, your instinct might be to take a step back. The last thing the harassed CEO of a struggling SME needs right now (you might assume) is an impromptu call from the people that supply their leased line or IP telephony. As long as those systems are working, they’re really not a priority at the moment.

We take a different approach. At Vaioni Wholesale, we think now is exactly the right time for channel businesses to reconnect with customers. An IT manager with a hundred spinning plates in the air might appreciate the opportunity to vent. They might grab at the chance for a little expert advice. They might value a bit of human contact. Whatever it is, in tough times a ten minute video call can help cement a relationship and underline your commitment to a customer’s cause.

Human contact is key
We’re not talking about a routine sales call or service review. You’ll do those anyway. Instead, this is the time to go off-calendar. Initiate a one-off chat about the current situation and how you might be able to help. Emphasise its informality - and that you’ll keep it brief!

Some customers won’t take you up on the offer, of course, but they’ll know the offer was made. Others will, and there’s plenty of advice and information you can give to potentially make their lives easier.

Businesses hate uncertainty. Workplaces are reopening, but often at a fraction of normal capacity. Systems and processes rushed into place as emergency measures in March are beginning to feel like semi-permanent solutions. Nobody knows when all this might end.

So short of inventing a vaccine, how can you help? Well, we’ve noticed an upswing in interest from partners for our hosted voice and managed cybersecurity services, as their customers come to realise that remote working isn’t coming to an end any time soon and that quick-fix measures adopted five months ago are patently not up to the task.   

Concerns over customer data, GDPR and phishing scams are huge headaches business leaders don’t want to have, and an opportunity to be proactive in support of your customers. Can you provide education on the best way to keep critical data secure while allowing productive collaboration between dispersed teams? Maybe suggest a video conference for employees on basic remote working security protocols, via your own experts or those of a wholesale partner.

Alternatively, can you help educate customers on the sophisticated features of hosted voice telephony, with particular reference to helping sales or customer support staff work from home without any drop in productivity or customer satisfaction?  

In a word, add value, and depending on the products and services you offer there’s much more to focus on. For example, as more business operations are driven exclusively online, CEOs are concerned about capacity issues and the effect on customer experience. By all means suggest solutions, but even if all you need to do is offer reassurance, many business leaders will be glad to have it. While you’re on the subject, take the opportunity to emphasise your proactive approach to network and usage monitoring.

Clearly, there might be upsell opportunities in all this, from cybersecurity to capacity. But if so let them remain implied, at least for the time being. Focus on education and advice. Listen to what customers have to say and offer sympathy, cost-free solutions or simple peace of mind. Your customers will remember that you did.



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