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Channel crying out for the ‘human touch’

Research from Kaspersky reveals that distributors and resellers want much more contact with vendors

Resellers and distributors are looking a more “human touch” from their vendors, with many keen to strike deeper relationships with suppliers.

Research from Kaspersky has found that the majority of resellers and disties (65%) wished their relationships with vendors were stronger, while 69% were looking for more personal interaction with their account managers.

The research comes at a time when the channel has shifted to using online collaboration tools, with a number of initiatives emerging to keep human contact levels up. The shift to home working has raised issues around mental health and stirred greater efforts to ensure staff are feeling connected. But there appears to be some way to go with partner and vendor relationships.

The Kaspersky research also revealed that 56% of resellers and distributors felt isolated if they heard nothing from their vendors, with 65% of respondents finding it increasingly difficult to build relationships with vendors.

There were also complaints about getting access to senior industry figures, with 72% of respondents stating that being able to talk to top executives was important to them.

There were clear benefits on offer for those vendors that got it right, with 65% of those surveyed revealing that they felt they could seal more business opportunities if they had a closer relationship with vendors.

Andy Bogdan, head of UK SMB channel at Kaspersky, said the research highlighted a problem, but there was no need for it to be permanent.

“In business, relationships are key. Building trust and having good, honest communication between all parties is imperative. Vendors must place a far greater emphasis on putting the customer first, and adopt a genuine, customer-centric approach,” he said.

“In business, relationships are key. Building trust and having good, honest communication between all parties is imperative. Vendors must place a far greater emphasis on putting the customer first, and adopt a genuine, customer-centric approach”
Andy Bogdan, Kaspersky

“One thing is clear above all else – the channel lacks a human touch right now,” he said, adding that Kaspersky was taking steps to make sure it reached out to partners. “It’s not too late for other vendors to take action and ensure personal relationships don’t disappear from the channel altogether – and they must do so now. More direct contact is becoming especially important, given that after the pandemic remote working could be here to stay for many businesses across the UK.”

Many across the channel are expecting home working to become permanent for more workers and for digital communication levels to remain high even after the coronavirus has stopped causing so many problems.

Tarik Faouzi, vice-president of CloudBlue and Cloud Solutions at Ingram Micro Cloud, used his session at the distributor’s virtual Cloud Summit to summarise some observations the channel player has made about the current situation.

“For those fortunate enough to be working these days, many or even most of you may be working remotely from home. There has been an astronomical adoption of messaging and collaboration applications,” he said.

The surge in use of Microsoft Teams and Zoom are evidence of the impact of the shift, and Faouzi said he expected those to remain high as remote working became the “new normal”.

“Remote working is proving to be an efficient alternative to working in the office,” he said, adding that the distributor’s own study had validated that experience and found that employees were enjoying greater flexibility and had increased productivity levels.

Clearly there are benefits to remote collaboration, but as the Kaspersky research indicates, that needs to be combined with a sense of the human touch being available for resellers and distributors.

Read more on Channel Partner Programmes

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