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View from the channel

With Andy Sadler, Director, Fluent Communications

How’s business? Better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

Business is better than 12 months ago, and I’m confident about the future as businesses will always need to communicate through a voice call, mobile or email. We’ve added more products to our portfolio to give customers a wider choice and a true one-stop-shop solution.

In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

We find that new and existing customers require a more unified solution, with the added benefits of mobile integration, disaster recovery plans and greater emphasis on security for their data and IT systems.

Where is business proving most difficult?

Dealing with BT on new line installations – and the lack of communication from providers.

How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

We feel the most important thing is to look after our existing customer base and make them aware of technology changes that will benefit their business. We have dedicated account managers who contact their customers on a regular basis to make sure this happens.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

Customers being seduced by cheaper prices and savings online that are too good to be true.

Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And, if so, what?

Other than service providers, we find we no longer have no face-to-face meetings with vendors/distributors. The days when account managers would come in and get to know your business and how to promote their products have gone. Changing this would help a lot.

Are customers becoming more demanding, and if so, in what ways?

Customer expectations are high, which is to be expected given that they depend on the products we supply and support, especially in data connectivity. I think we are now in an age when if something does go wrong, we feel it should be fixed immediately. This won’t always happen, and it can be frustrating for the customer and supplier when fixing a problem is in the hands of the service provider. This can reflect badly on our business through association.

If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be and why?

Dealing with BT. Customers get charged if a BT engineer finds a fault lies with the customer’s equipment. However, we are unable to charge BT if the fault lies with its network/service.

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2018