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Nick Birtwhistle

Swindon-based Excalibur Communications received ‘Total Communications’ partner status in Vodafone’s new year’s honours list

training, marketing material and strategies, social media plans and sales material. Detailing the predicted effects of the tools, Nick Birtwistle explained: ‘I think the real challenge for the smaller partners is being able to appear bigger than they are so they can compete credibly with the bigger players. The new programme helps with this.’ With rival partner portals such as Plan.com with their own upgrade in the works, Mobile asked why the portal seems to be playing an increasingly prominent role in aligning dealers with the provider’s services and strategies, and the director answered: ‘I think the portal is about putting partners in control of their customers and enabling them to serve their customers better. You have to embrace that as a strategy if you want to really deliver on customer experience. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do, it’s quite encompassing and we’ll continue with our roadmap of

The market is large enough for everyone to co-exist portal enhancements as we move forward. The more we can take from where partners have relied on Vodafone’s infrastructure and people, and place in the portal to allow partners to self serve, the better. It’s clearly the right thing to do.’ On the comparison between their new portal’s features with rivals, Birtwistle added: ‘Really, we benchmark ourselves against other providers and speak to our partners who’ll tell us what works and doesn’t work, and that to be honest with you is the main driver for us. I don’t want to waste time developing something that may look nice with some swanky functionality but will never get used, especially if the partners don’t see value in it.’

Big enough for the both of us All networks with a B2B offering have increased the range of services they offer throughout 2016. Both O2 and BT now offer Apple business device management, while Vodafone launched its own superfast broadband service for small businesses in September. Asked if networks were beginning to step on the toes of their partners, Birtwistle said: ‘We see the partners as complementing our direct channels. If you look at the market itself it is kind of segmented into those customers that would happily buy direct from the network and do so, and those who have a different set of requirements – some for

example want a service wrap that the bigger players find difficult to do. The market is large enough for everyone to co-exist. The way we look at it and the way we’re developing our partners as well, is very much around if a customer wants to get Vodafone from a partner they can; if they want to buy it direct they can do that too.’

www.mobiletoday.co.ukJanuary 2017

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Mobile January 2017