“Making it easy for resellers to sell”
25 June 2018
Telavox CEO Viktor Karlsson has shown in Sweden that the right approach to product development and customer focus puts you ahead in a saturated market. Now Viktor is launching his award-winning cloud-based PBX in the UK and is looking for resellers.
How did you overcome the challenge of being a new player in a technically advanced market like Sweden?
I was 19 when I started up in business (Viktor is only 36 today). I’d finished school and didn’t want to go straight to university. I had a few ideas like smuggling booze and selling second-hand bikes. But the real idea came when I got together with a few friends to brainstorm a business idea over a few beers.
We found out that people didn’t want to spend lots of money buying kit yet needed to work more efficiently. Together we came up with the first cloud-based PBX, Telavox Flow. Companies could hire rather than buy (solving the cost issue), and people wouldn’t be separated from their phone service (solving the efficiency issue).
TELECOMS + IT + SOCIAL MEDIA
The combination of a cloud-based PBX together with operator services, plus an intuitive user interface like the ones in popular social media apps meant that we were creating a next-generation telco service.
We approached service providers – who didn’t have the ability to do this themselves – and helped 20 of them make the leap to cloud-based PBX. This was our first big commercial success and gave us the starting point to develop Telavox.
What barriers did you encounter when scaling the business?
The challenge was finding the right balance of operational efficiency, margins and customer service.
For example, we experimented with a direct sales model for a couple of years, but it wasn’t efficient. Instead, we focused our internal resources on development (which is all in-house) and support for our customers and resellers. We found the most efficient way to market was through resellers, and we’re now looking for proactive resellers in the UK.
What principles drive product development?
We keep complete control over the entire product to stay more agile in meeting (and foreseeing) customer needs. It’s not the traditional model where there’s a major annual upgrade. We implement 20 updates each day, constantly optimising the service, so users know they have the best possible experience.
Let’s face it, Customer is King. If we don’t make people feel like royalty they’ll go somewhere else.
2 minutes not 2 months
Also, we’re our own power users, so we’re in a unique position when it comes to understanding what’s working and what needs improving.
We make sure our system is super-easy to use and work with. For example, new users can be up and running with a local number and cloud-based PBX in 2 minutes instead of 2 months. And we offer a freemium package so there’s no risk in switching.
Plus, we provide helpful on-boarding and frontline support, which means people get to know how to use the product very quickly and don’t have to deal with frustrating call centres.
When people call to us they know exactly how long they may have to wait – which we make sure is a very short time.
Telavox has built a loyal reseller base. What’s the secret to that success?
It’s easy to sell something when you can say it’s constantly optimised to give users the best experience.
We are constantly working to make everything easier and more effective, plus you can deploy Flow fast and with no risk. We’ve designed everything in a way that eliminates friction in resellers’ sales process.
And we focus heavily on customer service. It should be a hygiene factor, but it’s not. Our resellers know we make them look good because we deliver on the promises they make, which helps them boost loyalty.
Flow has a PBX function and a statistical tool that shows you how long your customers had to wait before your colleagues responded – and how long the calls lasted. Flow gives users and managers real-time information on the state of the queue, the number of agents logged in, how many calls have been answered within one minute. That way, sales and support companies give themselves a competitive edge in a cutthroat business world.
Where do you see the UK market going in the medium to long term?
The telco industry is slow moving and local, but it’s going the way of radio (Spotify), transport (Uber) and travel (Airbnb) where a diruptinve technology like ours will lead to a shift in the way people use telecom services. It’s currently in the consolidation phase: for the real change to happen, it needs to move away from fragmentation.
Telavox got that critical mass in Sweden, which enabled us to grow – and the UK is moving in that direction.
There are also technology developments. We were pioneers of a mobile-first approach to PBX, and the UK is quickly moving in this direction.
The UK has issues with broadband coverage, and many areas are only now getting fibre. We’ve designed Flow to work on mobile and fixed with high quality service. So even if you’re running a business in a remote rural area you benefit. This problem has disappeared in Sweden, and it will disappear in the UK, too.
We’ll reach the point where all business users have the same seamless digital experience they have in their consumer lives. And all of us – telcos, product innovators and resellers – have a role to play in that.
And we are already building a presence in the UK. We have skilled sales and support staff on the ground who can help with customer enquiries, and work together with resellers to jointly grow our business here.
Telavox develops world-leading communications platforms with solutions for smart and efficient telephony, PBX, chat and much more. Regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur-driven startup or a giant company, Telavox contributes to making you more transparent, efficient and accessible.
We want you to be able to focus on your passion, goals, staff and customers instead of on the communications puzzle. So we’ve replaced the industry's protracted procurement processes, complex integration projects and unnecessary installations with ease of use and a wow experience.
We were cloud-based right from the beginning in 2003. That means we don’t need to spend time adapting to the digital changes we have helped create. Our communications solutions challenge old norms and are already making everyday life easier for over 250,000 users and more than 13,000 companies.
If you’re interested in becoming a Telavox reseller, contact Richard Jones on 2030261012.