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View from the channel

Janet Bowden, Founder and Director, Woodbank Office Solutions

Q: What are your customers most interested in?

Janet Bowden

A: I get asked this a lot, in the past some account managers have been so fixated about security and document management. Yes, it’s a priority, in terms of their IT infrastructure but that’s something completely different from our side of things. Customers are more interested in reliability, quality, speed, efficiency and trusting us to do exactly what we promised. All of us at Woodbank fully understand that customer service is not just a department, it’s our job.

Q: Do clients have the same understanding of industry terms, such as BYOD, MPS or MDS, as we do?

A: Some of them do of course especially those in the IT profession, but it isn’t really a main concern they should have. If you end up confusing the customer it doesn’t do you any favours, don’t try and outsmart your potential customers. Every customer is an individual. No matter how good your feedback is, you always start over with the next customer.

Q: Where are you seeing most traction at the moment, are there any verticals that are particularly strong?

A: There’s always a lot of changes in our industry, increasingly we are seeing more software and security centric themed content aimed at the customer. Customers want better service and more transparency especially in our industry, this has been lacking in some traditional dealerships and their contracts. Over the last few months we have seen an increase in sales within the manufacturing industry.

Q: When selling MFPs, what are the most popular software solutions you provide and why?

A: The biggest bugbear for our MPS customers is uncollected print jobs and wasted print outs and of course, speed is everything! We promote Papercut mainly into the education sector and SafeQ for commercial organisations who need simplicity.

Q: Where do you get information on the latest products and solutions, and do you feel that the OEMs are doing enough to educate their channel partners?

A: We have a good, strong relationship with our partners, Konica Minolta and Kyocera Document Solutions. I first became an authorised Konica Minolta dealer in 1995 and it was in 2015 that I became a Kyocera authorised reseller. Both give us tremendous support and they are up to speed with competitor products, but it’s important for us to educate ourselves internally and not rely wholly on our OEMs.

Q: Is your patch particularly competitive – is it national or local competition that you face?

A: From head office in Stockport, I would say local competition is competitive but there are still good margins to be had. Our Liverpool branch provides us with better advantages over our competitors who have perhaps disappointed local firms. On top of that we have local account managers from Liverpool who know the area very well and the kind of markets to tap in. Our third branch in Leeds, whilst it’s still being developed will see a healthy growth pattern over the next 24 months. There are so many exciting opportunities in the future for what we do and for a company of our size, we offer something unique to the businesses not just in Stockport, Greater Manchester but now in Liverpool and Leeds.

Q: How do you spend your week – time on phone, face to face meetings with customers etc.?

A: My weeks have changed over the years, these days my role is more of a leader than a boss. My week varies, no week is ever the same. I wish I could spend more time having face-to-face meetings with customers. I always enjoy meeting new people and establishing new connections.

Q: What would make your job easier?

A: Easier, who wants that! I don’t want my job too easy, where’s hunger and determination if there are no challenges or hurdles. Comfortable acts like quicksand; if that spreads across your organisation it won’t do you or your team any good.

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