It’s fair to say that Derek Jones has been one of the UK channel’s strongest advocates of the need for an IT trade association that safeguards customers.
After launching the TrustATec network of PC dealerships earlier this year, which allows end users to find local IT services and support in their area, Synaxon has now partnered with well-known consumer review site Trustpilot to give the scheme additional accreditation.
TrustATec allows IT dealers to sign up and join its network in order to reach new customers in their local areas.
It’s first come first served, with one dealer allowed per area, and features standardised services and pricing across the network.
While it’s not a trade association as such, Synaxon’s UK MD Derek Jones says the TrustATec/Trustpilot partnership creates something that is close to one.
“This is a public endorsement, if you like,” he told PCR. “Although it’s not a trade association, it’s very much like a trade association. It gives the end user a point of redress, which is what I’ve shouted about in the past.
“TrustATec is the point of redress, end customers can come back to us and speak to one of our customer service people here or it can be elevated to me – and they will always get a response.
“Our TrustATec dealers have been visited, credit checked and we know them. And whilst we’re all working under the TrustATec brand, TrustATec has no standing with the end customer. It’s a facilitator. We’re putting the end user in touch with a professional technology service company. The end user already knows what they’re buying when they contact the dealer, because TrustATec has fixed national pricing and fixed standards to the service.”
TrustATec is already available in Germany where it’s known as PC Spezialist and has some 230 partners, each generating around 65 leads per month. But Synaxon wanted to do things differently in the UK.
“In Germany they have their own rating system, they get information from the end users direct, so they’re in complete control of it – the vetting is not independent,” Jones explained.
“Over here, I didn’t believe that was the right way to go. I wanted independent verification, hence using TrustPilot. So I want to know from an independent body how our members are performing. And I want to ensure that the quality of service and customer care is right up there at a five-star rating, through the biggest service provider of that type of ratings system in the world.
“TrustPilot contacts every end customer and they will then be asked for their feedback – this way we’ve got an early warning system. But it’s not about jumping on dealers, it’s about assisting dealers in improving their levels of customer service and care and attention to the end customer.
“It’s about the whole reputation of the TrustATec brand, so we’ll use our business development managers, we’ll visit members, look at their systems and advise on better service, so we bring everybody up to the highest possible standard – that’s the intention.”
In terms of pricing, it costs £150 to join TrustATec plus there’s a monthly fee of £50. The service is exclusive to Synaxon members in the UK at the moment.
If they wish, dealers can also set their own monthly budget to advertise their business using Google Adwords – and Synaxon manages all this on their behalf.
“So rather than trying to manage it themselves and hoping it works, where they’ve got to use a credit card, pay upfront and spend hours trying to manage AdWords, going it alone, this way they can compete with the PC Worlds out there.
“It’s a big national brand rather than a little local dealer,” Jones added.
Synaxon wouldn’t reveal the specific cost of the deal with Trustpilot, but did state it’s ‘a major annual contract that cost an arm and a leg’.
Synaxon currently has around 650 members, with 37 signed up to TrustATec in its first month. It has hired Elizabeth George as its UK TrustATec project manager and is aiming to bring five to ten new dealers on board per month. TrustATec brand manager Leona Muhlenbrock, who is based in Germany, will be flying over to the UK to talk at the 2016 Synaxon National Conference on June 16th and 17th.
In terms of other marketing, TrustATec is launching a ‘tech for dummies’ newsletter for end customers, giving them basic computer tips and advice.
Other than the individual Google Adwords campaigns, it is also promoting the brand on social media and is developing a series of videos to push TrustATec further.