Navigating the Landscape: A Closer Look at UCaaS Vendors and Their Role in Streamlined Communication

Diverse colleagues using smartphone and talking standing in office. Multiracial business people work at night in modern office.

More and more businesses are switching from traditional telephony systems and disconnected communication channels to solutions like UCaaS. These businesses are searching for ways to streamline operations, eliminate redundant tasks, reduce spending, and switch to more robust technologies that enable better client experiences. When comparing solution offerings by UCaaS vendors, companies prioritize scalability and cost savings, so as a managed service provider (MSP), aligning your products and services with the priorities of the companies in your target market will be critical to your success.

As a reseller, you manage the marketing, product strategies, and long-term relationship. But your UCaaS vendor manages the tools, up-time, and aspects of the product and service itself. As a result, choosing the right UCaaS vendors is just as important as choosing a manufacturer or a product material. 

Read on to learn more about the role UCaaS vendors should have in your business, the roles they shouldn’t have, and what steps you can take to navigate the landscape and find a vendor with the right features.

The Role of UCaaS Vendors for Resellers

Primarily, your vendor is your product source. They provide the technical tools and services that you will offer to your clients, but everything will operate through your company. Many resellers and vendors have a white-labeling arrangement, in which the MSP/reseller can brand the services as their own, repackage the bundles or service options, and handle all of the client-facing processes. But because there are two business entities delivering UCaaS solutions to your clients, it’s important to outline what the role of a UCaaS vendor is and what it isn’t.

UCaaS vendors perform these roles in a reselling agreement:

Providing Robust and Versatile Product Solutions

The vendors provide software solutions, tools, and technical support for building a UCaaS ecosystem that is customized to each end user’s business environment. In a UCaaS solution, those tools and features should include voice APIs, video tools, virtual faxing tools, business SMS, call centers, softphones (or digital phones without physical hardware) for mobile and desktop systems, and more. They should also provide solution management tools, such as:

  • A quality of service monitor so you, as the reseller, can proactively manage client experiences
  • Quoting and billing tools that accurately incorporate VoIP taxes and government-regulated fees, which can overwhelm both resellers and end-users unfamiliar with the complex legal requirements behind these systems

Ensuring Reliable System Performance

While the role of UCaaS vendors isn’t necessarily to provide friendly customer-facing service to your clients—as you may want to remain the point of contact—they do play a role in the level of service your end-users experience. Well-integrated tools, secure solutions that protect data, and up-time that easily accommodates the needs of their business are crucial, and your UCaaS vendor should provide consistent, top-tier support. 

Educating Resellers 

Some UCaaS vendors may regard this role as optional, but it’s vital for ensuring end-users have the best possible experience and that both vendors and resellers have a long, profitable relationship. Vendors have a role as educators, both to ensure that resellers understand how organizations are using UCaaS systems to keep communications versatile and secure, and to ensure resellers have complete mastery of how to navigate the UCaaS ecosystem. A robust onboarding and education process, complete with live support, live web conferences, and a university-style teaching program, is essential.

Some UCaaS vendors take it even further by educating white-label resellers about applicable fees and taxes for their region. This is a complex subject, and vendors who go the extra mile to provide option billing and invoice support provide a lot of value.

Related: Guide for UCaaS resellers: How to grow your IT reselling business in 2023

What Their Role Isn’t

However, there should be a clear line of where the role of UCaaS vendors ends. As a reseller, you enjoy the freedom and independence to market your products and services to your unique target market. Vendors who restrict that freedom may burden resellers with tight limits on what resellers can or cannot offer clients, as set by the UCaaS vendor. If you’re considering switching to a new UCaaS vendor or increasing your products to include UCaaS solutions, make sure you retain full control of marketing, pricing, and messaging. Your UCaaS vendor should not have the role of:

Requiring Certain Messaging and Marketing Strategies

Many end-users work with local resellers because they want that unique, localized support, and no one knows your market better than you do. That means you need to retain full control over your marketing strategies, including the wording, the types of ads you can use, and the promises or benefits you can communicate to your prospects. This is crucial because:

  • The benefits that a specific niche cares about—such as cybersecurity for information protected by HIPAA—need to be highlighted, and they may be lost in a generalized campaign.
  • You don’t want to waste time getting approval on messaging or waiting for someone to sign off on your approach.
  • Your business is your own, and you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or accommodate other opinions.

Restricting Pricing and Product Bundling Strategies

More importantly, you should retain full control over your pricing strategies. You may offer an in-depth level of account management and attentive services that steeply increase the price of your services, or you may offer a significant discount to a key account to win their contract. Also, you might create personalized bundles of UCaaS tools and services that you know are the best fit for a company; after all, the services a growing electrician company needs are very different from those of a digital marketing agency. 

If there are minimums, maximums, or required pricing models and product bundles determined by the UCaaS vendor, this directly interferes with your business. It hamstrings your ability to reach new markets or offer the best experience to your customers. 

Six Features to Look for in UCaaS Vendors

Once you have a clear vision of the role you want UCaaS vendors to hold in your MSP business, you can more easily look for vendors that agree with your perspective and have the features you need. We’ve compiled a list of six must-have features in reseller programs—if a prospective vendor offers these functions and tools, they may be the right fit.

1. Diverse Product Options

UCaaS is a broad, comprehensive solution made of multiple different tools. Look for vendors that have UCaaS features that encompass all channels of business communications without requiring strictly defined bundles. This allows you and your clients to mix and match options based on clients’ unique business parameters.

2. Comprehensive White-Labeling

Some UCaaS vendors are looking for contract sellers who follow their marketing and pricing requirements, while others allow white-label arrangements, where resellers are free to manage their branding and pricing solutions their own way. Check the reseller program details carefully to ensure a prospective vendor offers the latter option, to maintain greater control over your business’s pricing solutions and marketing.

Related: Reselling customized UCaaS solutions to small businesses

3. Robust Onboarding with Technical Education

Your vendor should offer robust educational resources, such as ongoing training seminars, live conferences, technical support channels, and courses. Ask questions about their onboarding process to see if a potential vendor fully educates resellers on their tools, platform, and services.

4. Personalized Account Management and Support

Opt for UCaaS vendors that provide you, the reseller, with points of contact for support. This may include a specific onboarding specialist rather than a general service team, an account manager, and quick access to technical support. This level of service guarantees that your vendor is active and that you won’t have to wait to get answers to end-user questions or resolve a service issue.

5. Training and Resources for Billing

Creating accurate invoices for communication services is tricky—there are many complicated government-mandated fees and taxes that can’t go unpaid. A vendor who is invested in your success will offer in-depth billing training and support. They may even provide a portal for generating and double-checking invoices and remitting collected fees to the right organization.

6. Up-Time That Meets Your Clients’ Standards and Business Needs

Up-time is the amount of time networks and services stay functional, usually expressed as a percentage. The lower the promised uptime, the more likely your clients are to be interrupted by outages or poor performance. Avoid services that only guarantee 95% up-time, and focus on vendors that offer at least 99% up-time.

UCaaS Vendors Should Support You and Your Clients—Find the Right One to Get Started

When you sell white-labeled communication services and UCaaS, the vendor you choose has an important role in ensuring you can maintain the promises you make to your clients. That’s why it’s important to partner with a business that offers robust products, reliable up-time, and plenty of resources. At SkySwitch, we’re committed to creating a strong partnership with each of our resellers—we provide high-performance UCaaS features and services, but we also leave the business decisions up to our resellers. Reach out today to see how our reseller program will fit your business model.