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Unison changes channel model, ups profits

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Unison Communications, the specialist software company focusing on
enterprise communications, has spent the past four years changing its
distribution model from a reseller-focused model to one where it maintains
direct contact with clients – a move that has seen its profits increase by
more than 50%.

Craig Young, the MD of Unison Communications – which was established 25
years ago – said the up tick in profitability was seen "almost immediately"
when the company started re-modeling its business model in order to "deal
directly with our clients".
Unison Communications, a company that develops, implements and maintains
world-class voice management applications and services, boasts more than 1
000 clients, including most blue chip South African banks and financial
services companies.
"The reseller-focused distribution model favours many companies but we found
that, by being at an arm's length from our customers with our products and
services, we were just one spoke in the overall wheel," says Young.
"Other vendors naturally had their own agendas when selling to customers,
and we, therefore, had very little control with regards to customer service
and customer retention. Very often, other installation problems caused us
grief – we would sometimes lose clients that we would probably have retained
if we took the lead and provided the client with an overall picture, and
solution, to the voice-based information needs."
Young says the company has also introduced a fully-fledged consultancy arm,
which adds "significant value" to its clients, allowing them to extract far
more value from the company's service offerings – and leading to additional
operational cost savings.
"Before embarking on the re-modeling of our business strategy we realised
that we had, over the years, moved beyond selling just products. We had to
start showing the client our full ambit of products and services, a move
that would provide them with a far better return on investment and allow us
to win – and retain – more clients."
He says that when it comes to non-manufacturing companies the cost of
voice-based communications is one of the "top three" expenses. There is also
a lot of employee "abuse' – which can cost companies "an arm and a leg".
"Our job is to look at the problem areas when it comes to voice-based
communications and advise clients where they can make savings. Savings can
be significant enough to materially affect bottom-line profits."
Young says that four years ago the company had a total of 20 resellers. "By
dealing directly with our clients we are able to better understand their
needs, thereby providing them with solutions that end up shaving far more
off their communication-focused operational costs."
The company's boasts a client base that includes the top South African
corporates, including the likes of South African Breweries, Wits University,
Cape Town University, South African Defense Force,  ABSA bank, Hollard
Insurance, Wesbank, and Auto & General.
It recently opened offices in Namibia and in London, UK.