As well as the major networks, the Uniworld Mobile service is offering the channel an interesting new route to market, according to Lambert. Uniworld Mobile is a flexible, non contract, pay as you use service. Most businesses only use up to 75% of bundled packages, Lambert says, so pay as you use offers transparency of cost, with the net cost often cost lower than bundles. A one bill solution with free inter-site calls across fixed and mobile is something of a USP for Uniworld and it is recruiting fresh channel partners every day as a result of this, Lambert claims.
Uniworld’s MVNO service operates on the UK’s largest 3G broadband network and uses three of the major networks to provide excellent coverage, explains Lambert. “Critically it means that customers can have one bill when they take both fixed and mobile services from us. We also sell all the major networks including O2, Orange, T-Mobile, 3 and Vodafone, as well as solutions such as BlackBerry. We are committed to providing a holistic service to the channel and mobile is therefore a key part of our strategy.”
Within the current economic environment, having a stable service provider is important as this guarantees a future revenue stream for the channel, states Lambert. “Uniworld is a debt free, cash generative business which is part of the Gamma Telecom Group. In short, we’re here for the long haul and this gives our channel real confidence.”
Uniworld’s MVNO service operates on the UK’s largest 3G broadband network and uses three of the major networks to provide excellent coverage, explains Lambert. “Critically it means that customers can have one bill when they take both fixed and mobile services from us. We also sell all the major networks including O2, Orange, T-Mobile, 3 and Vodafone, as well as mobility applications and BlackBerry.
He continues: “As we are network agnostic we can ensure that our channel partners get the solution they need for any particular opportunity. Uniworld provides a complete fulfilment service for business connections from the pre-sales process through to credit checking and order fulfilment. This end to end support makes life so much easier for the channel.”
Uniworld deals with a broad channel, ranging from affinity partners (such as retail associations) and dealers, through to mobile specialists and sub-resellers. It has launched a tool kit of incentive schemes to match the diverse range of business models within the channel.
Lambert comments: “With our fixed line channel, our mobile offering gives them the opportunity to win new business and increase customer retention. We also work with mobile-only dealers who find our Uniworld Mobile service a useful addition to their portfolio and who benefit from our customer service ethos. These partnerships provide mutual benefits, and we’ve gained valuable expertise ourselves from many of the mobile specialists we work with.”
On the heavy competition in mobile, Lambert notes: “The market can always benefit from positive disruption from competition. Genuine competition ensures a fresh approach for the channel and customers. This was the case in the fixed line market where BT was the established and trusted business, and it can certainly be the case in the mobile arena.”
More traditionally fixed line businesses are moving into the mobile channel these days. Lambert explains why: “It’s well known that the fastest growing areas of the communications market are applications, IP telephony, data connectivity and mobility. It’s also well established that there are natural market pressures on commodity voice services. These market trends are a key driver behind growing a mobile channel.”
In addition, the future of communications is more fluid and mobile than ever seen before, says Lambert. He comments that modern businesses operate on the move with remote staff, flexible workers, plus national and international connections. Within this more fluid environment, mobile communications, IP telephony and data connectivity are essential parts of Uniworld’s business strategy.
“We offer 14 years experience working with SMEs, which is a strong message when competing with providers who have focussed solely on corporate business in the past. We also add value to the supply chain by offering both the fixed and mobile expertise required to offer converged fixed, data and mobile solutions. This means that we can offer combined fixed and mobile propositions that give the channel powerful tools to create sales opportunities,” he says.
Uniworld provides every customer with a named account manager. This approach to customer service is a key factor in its customer retention rate of 98.1%, which is tried and tested in today’s economic environment.
To firmly incorporate the mobile channel, Uniworld has invested heavily in training for its sales staff and account managers. Lambert claims to be able to make a mobile strategy work properly, a business needs staff recruited and trained specifically to create a sales and account management personnel who are conversant in fixed, mobile and data communications.
“We’ve also appointed mobile specialists, who offer both the channel and our staff expert technical and commercial support with sales opportunities,” he adds. “Critically, we add value by partnering for fulfilment with a company who are an O2 Data Centre of Excellence, a Gold Alliance Partner with RIM and one of the top performing partners for O2 Mobile Broadband across the UK.”
Uniworld is now actively adding more mobile partners to its channel and is already engaging its existing channel in a rolling programme of product training, in which mobile is a core element.
“Along with any business in the mobile space, we face an ongoing challenge to maintain a high level of expertise, and we’re going to continue to work hard to ensure we remain at the cutting edge,” notes Lambert. “We also see that our strategy of adding value is essential to our success in the mobile market. We need to maintain our high standards of customer service and to continue to demonstrate our ability to provide converged fixed and mobile solutions that are based around solving the issues of customers.
“We are building win-win partnerships with the channel to achieve mutual success,” he continues. “That’s the message we presented at our national road shows at the grounds of Premiership Football Clubs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Aston Villa. This creation of mutual benefits is a fundamental part of our strategy.”
As well as an opportunity to talk, the road shows also presented an opportunity for Uniworld to launch its Magnificent 7 ski incentive. The top seven performing channel partners between May and November 2009 will join Uniworld for a fully expensed long weekend in the French Alps in early 2010.
To work with, get around, understand and pick up on the trends and issues Uniworld sees as the biggest problems in the marketplace this year, dealers should talk to the company to benefit from its expertise and its access to the distributors and networks, states Lambert.
“There’s a lot of change occurring within the structure of the mobile market,” Lambert sums up. “This is being caused by rationalisation at the distribution level, the desire of the major networks for a larger slice of the business market and the evolution of phones that are so advanced in their applications that they offer a genuine work-home solution. We want to help the channel to win mobile business as an essential part of our future, as well as that of the channel.”
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