There is no business like old business: The art of looking after your customers

When you’re trying to grow your business, it’s likely that your first thought is expanding your customer base. Bringing new people in on lucrative deals (then seeing how you can upsell and cross sell to increase the deal value) can make a real difference to your yearly figures.

It makes sense. Business thrives on acquisition.

And salespeople thrive on finding new clients and growing their portfolio. For many, bonuses are structured around new business and bringing a prospect over from a competitor is always going to be lauded in competitive industries.

But those deals are every bit as valuable as new ones – sometimes even more so, with happy existing customers also likely to review, recommend and provide material for case studies and customers stories. Not to mention, retention is the best proof point of great service there is.

Successful channel resellers get that. It’s why they’re at the top of the tree, retaining a lucrative base of committed customers then adding to that with the new. They’ve made retention of old business an art – something everyone else would do well to learn.

The trouble is, what if an undue focus on the new distracts you from providing great service to the customers who are already on your side?

It’s true that no one ever rings a bell or sounds a klaxon when a loyal partner decides to stick around for a few more years.

Innovate and upsell

Tech and telecoms are fast moving industries.

We all know about the imminent switch off of ISDN. And the tools that businesses want to use to communicate are changing all the time, with generational shifts and tech preferences shaping what customers want to buy. Social media integration, for example, is now seen as an essential, so businesses can interact, communicate and enjoy amusing videos of cats just like everyone else.

When communications requirements change, customers aren’t going to sit around waiting for their seller to get their ducks in a row. So it’s vital to partner with a business that can cater for what the end user needs, when they need it. And who is able to offer the zeitgeist business technology solutions, so innovation is built into your offer to customers.

In practice, this means a digitised product offering that’s easy to buy and scale. No one wants to spend days waiting for a repairman with a screwdriver to improve their telephone service. Instead, they want it done in ten minutes through the cloud.

This is also where channel partners can make their biggest gains through upselling.

Understanding customer needs and being able to cater to it fast is the best way to increase the value of existing business. If you’re able to go in and offer a quick response to an immediate problem, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition.

Speed is everything here.

If they’re going to retain their existing customers, channel resellers must get a handle on this.

Gamma provides a digital portal to partners, so they can respond to the requirements of their end users fast, with a set of tools that allow them to do that. This sort of digitisation is going to become more and more important as buyers become a lot more tech savvy and happy to self serve. Roan Pratt
Head of Product Sales, Gamma

Full service, future ready

At its heart, being a channel partner is about building successful and profitable business relationships with end users. And as any good channel partner will tell you, that doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it’s a steady process that takes years and years to get right. You’re creating trust as well as selling technology, and the former is often much harder than the latter.

That’s why customer service is always the strongest retention tool a reseller will have.

Every customer a channel partner has is, of course, unique.

However, there are some things it always pays to do as you look to take care of the businesses on your books.

The first is understanding their profile.

Whether that’s how many home or flexible workers they have, to if they intend on expansion in terms of locations or people.

These are the kinds of conversations account managers will have in their daily dealings – it’s important that they get the answers and share with the rest of your team. And the reason this information is important is not just because it’s plain good, polite service, it’s because you can’t sell the right thing at the right time if you’re working with the wrong information.

This is where service also creates opportunity. Unified communications is a changing, evolving industry. So your product set has to meet the demands of the industry and your customers. The more you know about them, the happier your sales calls will be, because you’re talking to the customer about something they actually need.

Don’t forget, customers always prefer to have everything in one place.

The fewer suppliers they have to deal with, the better.

Those that retain customers are getting customer service right. And they’re doing account management better. It’s all about alignment. If customers are receiving the right sort of service, they’ll be looking to follow up and speak to the account managers with good news. It’s about creating an environment that you can speak freely in. Roan Pratt
Head of Product Sales, Gamma

What’s here and what’s next

New business is great for a boost. And it’s always the case that channel partners should be looking to expand their customer portfolio with new clients, particularly if they can entice them from a competitor.

But it remains true that steady profit and sustainable growth are built on a solid base of happy customers, brought in by your big promises around great services and products, then kept there because you’ve delivered on them.