Gamma Business Communications, formerly known as Uniworld, continues to grow through its Channel Partner base and is set for a record year in 2013, both in profitability and in its customer numbers. We sat down with Jamie Ward, Head of Marketing and Neil Taylor, Business Development Manager, to understand what’s been happening down at Gamma Business Communications (GBC) over the last 12 months.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): So firstly, why the change from Uniworld to Gamma Business Communications?
Jamie Ward (JW): Uniworld has in fact been owned by Gamma since 2004. With the continued success of the parent company, we recognised the strength of the Gamma brand and felt the time was right to tap into that brand equity. So we are in effect one company. But more importantly, our dealers wanted to work with a provider that owned its own network, and therefore welcomed the change so the time was right to rebrand. We now work much more closely with our parent company in terms of the product portfolio, network and have much closer ties with Gamma’s support functions.
Neil Taylor (NT): We also needed to offer the channel a solution for those without a billing platform, as there are a lot of business out there that want to work with Gamma and access our product set, but who don’t want to manage the provisioning, billing and day to day management that customers expect. That’s where we come in…
We’ve got a great proposition for partners – we can take them on a journey from dealer to fully-fledged reseller, helping them every step of the way. Those partners that don’t want the hassle of providing first line support, billing or cash collection join as a dealer but can progress to a white label service we call Simplicity. Here we still do the billing on behalf of our partners but in their brand and they take ownership of the customer. Then when they are ready to invest in a billing engine we support them in migrating to become a full blown reseller. This is where Gamma has built up such a strong brand and award winning reputation.
CBM: So what’s Gamma Business Communications been up to in 2013?
NT: We relocated from an old, outdated office in Gosport to a much more strategic location with easier access to the motorway and local airport, making it easier for both ourselves and for our partners and customers.
JW: There have been three main areas of focus for us at Gamma Business Communications (GBC) this year – growing the partner base and changing its mix, focussing on selling the higher margin services such as hosted voice, mobile and SIP via partners and really focussing hard on customer service. Not in a woolly way, but in a measurable transparent way. So for example, each quarter we measure customer satisfaction using the Net Promoter Score methodology and this directly drives customer service bonuses. Our performance in reducing customer churn and upselling more to existing customers has been outstanding, which obviously keeps our partners happy.
NT: One of our key growth areas has been providing customers with high speed data comms, either Ethernet or EFM. Gamma became an ISP in its own right last year, and GBC has been able to take advantage of that and is now selling a different product set to a different profile of customer, with less emphasis on the SoHo and small SME and more towards the large SME and mid market.
CBM: So, in changing the mix, how has the profile of your dealer changed?
NT: The reason the profile of the dealer has changed is mainly due to the success of our product portfolio. We’ve always been strong in voice, but the growth in data connections and more converged solutions has broadened our appeal to a wider selection of channel partners. And as a result we are seeing fewer telephone system companies and many more IT companies coming on board.
JW: Gamma’s mobile offering changing from 3 to Vodafone and becoming a fully-fledged MVNO has also made us more appealing to mobile dealers who are frustrated with the big networks, their restrictive network practices and inconsistent commission programmes. They’re also looking for the opportunity to de-risk their businesses by working with multiple providers. They choose to work with us because of our heritage and experience and the flexibility of our offering – the business benefits and growth opportunities we give them to sell into their customers. So we give them more than just mobile – it’s a whole suite of quality products and services which creates for them additional revenue streams and, ultimately, that makes stickier customers, which is great for the partner.
CBM: What else have you done to improve customer satisfaction?
JW: We regularly survey our customer base, and they told us that we didn’t communicate with them enough. So we changed this by introducing customer newsletters and a completely new bespoke product update, both of which are now being sent direct on a regular basis. Also, for when new customers join us and place an order, we have developed a detailed five step on-boarding process to ensure that we keep them up to date with a clear vision of how their order is progressing every step of the way. We’ve also invested in training and customer awareness courses across the entire business, regardless of team or job function, so we’re putting our customers at the heart of our business.
CBM: What’s in store for the next 6 months?
JW: As well as our regular attendance at the Convergence Summit North and South events, we’re also running a couple of partner open days at Mercedes Benz World. We’ve got some great speakers from Ovum, Strategy Analytics, 20/20 mobile and Taylor Made and we’ll also be showcasing our products and services to prospective partners. This gives our prospects access to current research, thought leadership topics, mind sharing, market analysis and basically it’s a great opportunity to network with their peers as well as having a brilliant time thrashing a few cars around the circuit!
Taylor Made Case Study
Taylor Made is a complete IT services business providing a range of IT services solutions to businesses in the Solent region, London and the South-East and spreading across the UK with the shift towards more hosted solutions. 20 years young, the company employs 100 staff at its headquarters in Fareham, Hampshire.
Managing Director Tim Walker says that in the last three years, Taylor Made has seen a huge change in technology as the whole industry moves towards monthly recurring contracts rather than project-based IT.
“Taylor Made has spent 15-18 years very much in the project IT space, so has had to adapt and make a lot of investment in infrastructure enabling it to provide hosted services.
The market has changed and Taylor Made is still evolving as a result and, in three years’ time, the company will look like a very different business, while still maintaining its reputation for delivering good service, just with slightly different solutions from today’s.
The biggest issues keeping Taylor Made’s customers up at night are clearly related to its own concerns – do customers spend CAPEX with large up-front expenditure or do they roll things into a monthly OPEX? That’s giving customers problems as they don’t understand the underlying differences between on-premise and off-premise and they are unfamiliar with the Cloud – the term even means different things to different customers depending on what they need.
Also, with people increasingly using lots of different devices in the home, in the workplace and while travelling, this new era of bring your own device (BYOD) is increasingly confusing to businesses. How do they police it? How do they make sure it’s secure? And how do they make sure people are not spending their time on those devices for non-work related matters? These are the kind of issues that Taylor Made are able to bring to customers as they have a wealth experience in all areas and can advise their customers what is right for them.”
Why did Taylor Made choose Gamma?
“Taylor Made were keen to go with the Broadsoft platform and were impressed with Gamma’s proactive support while coming to a supplier decision, convincing them they would also get that same level of proactiveness in Gamma’s ongoing support. Also, given how many partners Gamma already has, and after speaking to a number of them, it gave Taylor Made the peace of mind that this was the correct partnership to move forward with.”
Why use the Simplicity billing platform?
“Owning the brand is important to Taylor Made, so having the brand associated with all of their billing and the sales process is key to their proposition. A number of people in the business come from the IT and telecoms industry of old and know what voice billing is like, and their advice was to stay well away from billing, so Taylor Made chose to go with the Simplicity billing platform as it took the headache away from the billing process but still enabled them to represent the Taylor Made brand.”
How does Gamma add value to Taylor Made’s offering?
“Taylor Made’s customers have increasingly been looking to take hosted services and, more recently, hosted voice services, and now the company has a market-leading hosted voice product in Horizon as part of its portfolio. It adds a lot of value because the average revenue per customer goes up, the number of products per contract increases and therefore the margins Taylor Made achieves from those contracts also increases in tandem. So it’s all about giving the customers what they want, and Taylor Made is able to do that through the Gamma platform.
Gamma provides marketing support and help with expediting provisioning where installation times are critical. Taylor Made also benefits from sales support during the bid processes, tapping into Gamma’s product skillset when required and where TM doesn’t yet have the depth of knowledge and expertise. Taylor Made also get support in training, starting with its pre-sales technical consultants and business consultants, through the account management, sales and engineering teams, ensuring that TM is able to qualify, bid, deliver and support the Gamma solutions.”