By Traci Maynard, Executive: Edge Consumer Software and Hardware and HPE Business Unit Manager at Axiz
If a customer’s system falters or breaks, who will they call? Support services are a vital part of the market, especially when it involves hardware investments. Yet, in the multi-faceted managed services world, support services are becoming a powerful way for channel resellers to build stronger relationships with their customers and discover upsell opportunities.
Many resellers, especially those focused on managed service offerings, often overlook support as part of what they can provide. This lapse isn’t a surprise: resellers find it challenging to establish and deliver support services, particularly any services involving vendors. There are several reasons why this happens:
- Vendors maintain significant control over their support ecosystems to encourage quality and healthy margins.
- Support services for vendor products require expensive certifications and skills.
- Vendors prefer resellers that show commitment through their investments in the vendor’s ecosystem.
For these reasons, many resellers forego involvement in support, leaving it to the vendor and specialising support houses. But it’s a missed opportunity: support services can open new doors with customers and help build strong long-term relationships that translate into additional business.
Okay, you might say, so support is good for business. But it doesn’t take away those three barriers. That was once the case. Yet, with the right partners, resellers can take their place in the support value chain and use that to grow their revenue.
The reseller’s place in support
Resellers, particularly those who offer hardware, enjoy a unique vantage point with customers. They are attuned to the customer’s hardware cycles and end-of-life prospects. Combining that with vendor support, their customers will gain additional benefits such as update and licence notifications. Channel companies that invest the time to understand their customers’ desired outcomes have a lot to offer, even if they are not providing the physical support service.
To be more specific, resellers are very useful around the softer support elements. For example, resellers arrange for access to customer premises, and they are (or should be) on hand to liaise with the customer while the support teams do their job.
Yet it’s about more than being a middleman. During a support call (which can include the initial deployment of new technologies), there may be opportunities to sell additional services or systems. With support people already on-site, customers are often open to installing those extra value items there and then. When the reseller is the front-facing agent for the support process, they can accomplish more with their customer. This customer contact point is also crucial for delivery satisfaction and dispute resolution.
A reseller or managed service provider can play an essential role through support without owning or managing the support components. They can use support as an avenue for better customer relationships and complementary sales.
Getting into the support game
Resellers can maintain their place at the front rather than handing off support entirely to a vendor. They can do so in two general ways.
The first is to create the support competency themselves. Yet this is expensive to do. Vendors are also emphatic about support quality and they don’t delegate that responsibility lightly. They expect certifications: costly investments that can narrow a reseller’s capacity to only one or two vendors.
The second way is to work with a support partner. Often, though, that partner is the vendor, complicating matters for the reasons mentioned above.
A third option is partnering with companies that invest in support but do not offer them as a competitive alternative to the reseller or vendor. Axiz is such a partner. We’ve worked with vendors for a long time and built numerous certified competencies with them. Several major vendors outsource their support services to us. And since we work with a large variety of vendors (over 55 by the last count), we’re a multi-vendor support house.
Axiz is a support partner that aligns with the market’s appetite for solutions that combine different vendor products and services. But how does that benefit our reseller clients?
- Axiz does not compete directly – we use our support competencies to help our clients match their customers’ support needs.
- We take on much of the upfront financial risk of support engagements, such as late or deferred payments due to disputes.
- Keeping the vendors happy is key: we work with our clients towards fast delivery and completing satisfaction surveys.
- Axiz manages the support contracts, including notifications of updates or renewals.
- As a multi-vendor house with matching certifications, our engineers can deliver additional value, such as installing SaaS products on top of acquired hardware during the same support call.
Above all this, Axiz brings everything together in a digital platform. Our clients can use the platform for free, selecting different vendor products and services, finding implementation partners with specific competencies and adding suitable support options.
They can roll these together into one solution, backed by Axiz. Thus resellers and managed service providers can offer more to their customers with less risk.