PASSIONATE ABOUT PARTNERS

Helen Freestone, Director of Partnerships and Alliances at Vodafone

A career that began in the legal sector as a solicitor took a sharp turn toward technology with spells at resellers selling software before becoming Director of Defence and Security for Microsoft. Today, Helen Freestone is Director for UK Partnerships and Alliances at Vodafone and spearheading a Partner program launched 18 months ago.

Helen Freestone says that Vodafone are ideally placed to engage with partners, help resellers meet their challenges and together, build value.

“Vodafone has had a Partner Programme in place for the last seven years or so and 18 months ago we began working with our partners to develop a new programme that would be fit for the future and to enable us to build more value with our partners, focus on customer experience and support our focus on total communications.

With a focus on rewarding capability and customer experience, rather than volume, we replaced the Platinum, Gold and Silver tiers with new, capability tiers called: Approved, Specialist, Advanced and Total Communications.

To achieve the status a Partner wants for their business there is a simple set of requirements, made up of the capability within their business and a range of Customer Experience and Operational Standards. Depending on the status a Partner achieves they will receive a range of benefits across commercial reward, Business support, Partner services, marketing support and other benefits associated with being in the Vodafone Partner Programme community.

The structure means that, whatever a partner’s ambition or capability, they can find a level that suits them and gives them the appropriate level of support.

We have created a huge suite of training and certification materials. For the first time, Partners will be able to gain Vodafone certification across the Vodafone Fixed, Mobile, Converged and Cloud portfolios.

We are continuing to invest in channels through training, upskilling and joint marketing initiatives.

Vodafone has a key role to play in supplying unified communications solutions but we want to provide more in the form of customer value management (CVM). We have a lot of user data and can provide the analytics to see where resellers can add further value and where new opportunities lie.

It is important resellers understand that we want to work with them and develop two-way dialogues on how to develop these new opportunities.

We are all aware of how fast the market changes and it is key to remain agile, retain customers, add value and win new business by helping resellers become successful in the converged space.”

Top Vodafone Partner Stats
• Vodafone has invested over £1m in their Partner Programme in the last 18 months, with nearly half a million committed.
• A third of partners have already accessed and used Vodafone’s marketing tools, assets and investment. In fact, one partner has projected a 10-fold return in revenue on a joint investment in their social media campaign.
• The Training and Certification programme is the result of 12 months’ work and provides over 150 hours of learning materials – Vodafone also keep all the training up to date and proactively communicate these changes to Partners.
• Across the UK Vodafone has invested £2bn in their network and services since 2014, and expect to invest another £2 billion over the next few years.

Throughout Helen Freestone mentioned unified communications maybe half a dozen times so here’s a snapshot of their offering – Vodafone One Net Business.

One Net is a cloud-based unified communication service for Small and Medium sized organisations. It delivers fixed and mobile communications through a single platform. This means that users can constantly be connected to customers, suppliers and colleagues through a single number, with audio and video conferencing options. The company says this solution is used by many small to medium-sized customers to enable them to grow their businesses. By using Vodafone One Net, users ensure that their customers can always reach them, so never miss a sales call again. Vodafone adds that users can see their staff productivity increase, their internal communications enhanced and their customer service improve.

What Resellers Say:
Boosh365: “By achieving it and doing hundreds of hours of training we learnt things that we probably didn’t realise we needed to know, but actually that has now given us a bit of an edge over our competitors.”
Elite Telecom: “Vodafone’s new capability programme ensures that the quality of services and skillset separates its trusted partners from other service providers and delivers a quality all round service to an ever-demanding customer base.”
Ed Says…
There can be little doubt that Freestone is on a mission to develop Vodafone’s reseller channel business and that this is being achieved in no small part by both her passion for the business and the resources she is bringing to play for reseller partners.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine