One of the most substantial challenges that many resellers have is in managing their customer base. It’s no longer enough to simply on-sell products. Customers want services added into their purchases, and would rather invest in complete systems, rather than buying boxes and trying to cobble the solution together themselves.
Billing and customer management systems (CMS) has become a significant investment by the reseller in order to enable a more services-oriented approach to customers such as setting up to accept credit cards, automate invoicing, and allow network monitoring of the equipment that they provide. Network monitoring is especially worthwhile as it allows the reseller to identify faults and provide support in real time.
Leader Computers has leveraged its partnership with Ubiquiti to give resellers access to a CRM software package, UCRM, for free, in a bid to help the reseller deepen its engagement with their customers.
“Leader’s purpose is to help our resellers grow and be profitable,” Leader Computers Managing Director, Theo Kristoris, said. “This free UCRM software will allow any reseller to effectively become an ISP, by allowing streamlined billing and customer management with credit card process, recurring invoicing, and automated features including account suspension (for late payment), and CPE outage detection.
“We see this as positioned particularly well for regional resellers, and any kind of vertical solutions where Internet services need to be provided as part of the package.”
It is predicted that regional Australia will make a move away from a heavy reliance on the major players in the ISP space, such as Telstra, Optus, and TPG/iiNet. The increasing prevalence of the NBN is enabling smaller ISPs to provide services at a low price to a specific customer base, and specialise in assisting local communities.
“UCRM is the dawn of the independent ISP boom - it’s free, powerful, and unified,” Ben Klason, Leader Ubiquiti Certified Specialist said.
“UCRM brings together the Ubiquiti family of licence-free band products to enable small-medium-large WISPs to take command of their network, customers and payments in a simple multi-site platform that it empowers these businesses with no background or knowledge of running an ISP to start offering fixed wireless & networks to an mostly untapped market.”
According to an article in The Advertiser in December 2015, former Telstra CEO, David Thodey, said the emergence of the “third-tier” smaller providers over the NBN would prove a huge challenge to the nation’s entrenched telco giants as they offered good services at low prices.
The challenge is in offering a service that is acceptable for regional Australia consumers and businesses. People don’t have patience for outages, and for businesses, downtime can be incredibly costly. Moreover, with regional Australia increasingly relying on being able to communicate with branch offices or suppliers in the cities, it is even more important that any organisation providing Internet as part of the service is able to guarantee reliability. In relation to this, it is incumbent on any reseller that is also acting in an ISP capacity that they are able to offer the same level of troubleshooting and support that customers expect from larger ISPs.
In addition to the other benefits that the UCRM software offers, Kristoris said that the client portal resellers could provide to their customers as part of the package would be a compelling value-add. This portal allows a reseller’s clients to view their active services, invoices, and pay online using a credit card or other payment gateway.
“This is a world first, and a substantial opportunity for all resellers looking to build out a more comprehensive service offering for their customers,” Kristoris said.