How Cloud Communications (UCaaS) Can Open the Door into Managed IT for Copier Dealers

by Noel O’Dwyer, Intermedia

As the post-pandemic office continues to evolve, so do workplace and technology trends. Work-from- home and hybrid models are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, meaning the ability to support workers no matter where or how they work becomes increasingly valuable. For many dealers, managed IT is a way to provide this value.

It is no mystery that dealers have faced a number of ongoing challenges over the last decade that affect their net income. Print volumes have seen a steady decline, a trend not likely to reverse any time soon. Additionally, in the post-COVID era, dealers have struggled with supply chain challenges in terms of the availability and delivery of both hard­ware and toner. Moreover, with the shift away from traditional office space, the need to add monthly recurring revenue streams and reduce dependence on up-front commissions and lower-margin sales becomes even more urgent. And although managed IT is a natural solution, it can be hard to get a foot in the door.

Enter cloud-based communication solutions — sold in an as-a-service model as unified communications as a service (UCaaS). These are voice and data communications solutions where telecommunications applications, switching, and storage are hosted by a third-party and accessed through the internet. Every business of every size needs a reliable communications platform for voice, chat, and other channels.  Voice communications is an ideal swivel point for dealers because it complements an existing portfolio and does not require a complete retool of the businesses you have worked to build.

So what is in it for your customers? Cloud based communication technology offers an environment that is flexible, immediate, scalable, secure, and readily accessible.  This technology can also improve customer service by providing more efficient tools for automation and customization. Companies are better able to respond quickly to customer requests without having to physically address them individually, which will save time and resources that can be allocated toward other areas of the business. The automation tools can provide customers with reliable responses no matter when they reach out or whom they’re speaking with. A company could send an automated message inquiring about a past issue  or offer solutions based on the customer’s purchase history. This type of customization can help them build stronger relationships with their customers while also ensuring those customers have a positive experience every time they reach out for support.

In addition, this service means they do not have to pay to buy or maintain hardware, and there is no need for a physical office phone line. Whether giving customer support over the phone, participating in a video conference, or sharing files, it all can occur through their internet connection.

Dealers will benefit as well. Those who add UCaaS to their portfolios have the opportunity to turn this new hybrid work model – once seen as a disruptive challenge – into a competitive advantage. Much as networked print devices provided an initial entry into a customer’s network, allowing customers to see dealers as providers of more than print solutions, providing hosted solutions is a natural entryway to  complete managed services.

UCaaS enables you to offer your customers a reliable, feature-rich communica­tions platform that can be the mainstay of flexible hybrid and remote offices, today and in the future. By offering these services, resellers can provide customized services that meet the needs of different types of customers.  As time goes on, users can add or decrease the features or services and functionality of their communication platform with a simple configuration and deployment, enabling the dealer to return for repeat business more often than the standard three-to-five-year lease deals typically call for.

There are few hurdles to overcome to enter this revenue stream, as customers already expect to pay monthly for software rather than the upfront cost of traditional hardware, allowing a steady flow of income over time without the capital costs of equipment or software packages.

When you offer UCaaS, you become a one-stop shop for office communications and pro­ductivity – meaning customers will naturally turn to you for other services. This can also work to your benefit when it comes to copier sales as well — when you get your foot in a client’s door as a managed services provider first, that door remains open for hardware sales as well. Clients prefer to have fewer vendors to deal with, and when you prove yourself as a trusted source of one solution, they’ll be happy to go to you for others.

UCaaS also helps address another industry trend – increased competition from manu­facturers and other dealers who sell the same print and/or copier hardware and peripherals. You cannot always distin­guish your value on hardware alone. But by add­ing cloud communications and becoming a whole-office solution, you give customers more than they can get from the competition, giving your customer a clear reason to choose you and your business and enabling them to see you as a complete provider of managed IT solutions.

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