In this month’s blog, we’ll be looking at how easy it is to be a customer of the cloud services you offer. This the first of a three-part series on some of the key elements for being successful in the cloud services market. In part two, we will look at how to complete your offer with a close look at bundles, upselling and cross-selling. In part three, we will look at how secure your offer is with a discussion about encryption, compliance standards and SLAs. In short, your customers need to find you easy to do business with, get all of their needs met in one place, and feel secure in the data they are moving to the cloud.
So what does it mean to be easy? To be easy you need to be frictionless, instant and scalable with your end users. Cloud customers have dozens, if not hundreds, of potential partners to acquire their cloud services from. Those who offer the easiest ways to get started will have a significant advantage over those who throw up barriers in their potential customers' way. In fact, the decision timeline in most cases can be measured in seconds, not hours or days.
How easy are you to do business with?
Friction in the sales cycle and all of the unnecessary hoops that we make our customers jump through to start using our product can be very common. We will talk about instant access to service in a minute, but time delays are not the only sort of friction. Do you require a customer to talk to a salesperson before starting a buying process? Will customers be required to utilize professional services before they can begin using their services? Do you require customers to fill out a long form to access these services? Can a lay person with no technical background understand your offer, buy the service and then in turn consume them?
It is important that a customer can see and understand your cloud services in mere moments and make the decision to buy. To remove friction, you should have someone you trust and who is not involved with your business try to review and then buy the product from your company (perhaps your mom). These fresh eyes can often reveal how many road blocks you have thrown up in your own purchase process.
Additionally, you should consider how easy it is to use your products and services. All cloud services rely on delighted customers to keep paying their bills on a regular basis. If your products cause them any trouble, they will likely quit on you.
Your service should also be instantly available. In the highest and best form, this means a seamless online order experience with little to no human interaction. The best way to achieve this result is to acquire online provisioning and billing systems. These are easily available and can be deployed with a minimum of effort. Areas to consider include fraud detection, merchant account services and chargeback procedures.
In an ideal world, your customers make a purchase decision, order and then receive their cloud service in minutes. If you do have human interaction to soften the purchase process, your salespeople should be similarly enabled to delight the customer with an instant product activation.
Finally, your systems need to be scalable. The thing customers love about cloud services is that they can order just what they need and when they need it. Customers should be able to order more of the service as they need it.
For our partners' ease of use, we have integrated with all of the most popular service provider billing and provisioning systems, including those from Odin, WHMCS and HostBill.
To make sure your customers easily find our products, we have recently released Acronis Backup Cloud 5, which equips service providers and resellers to quickly solve customer data protection problems with a proven, comprehensive local and cloud backup and recovery service. Acronis Backup Cloud is part of the complete set of Acronis data protection solutions, which includes backup, cloud storage, disaster recovery, and file sync and share.
The new version 5 of Acronis Backup Cloud delivers the following benefits:
- Easier for service providers, resellers and end users – features in-product “buy now” links, custom service offerings based on machine type, and integration with leading management platforms and third-party storage, including Odin Service Automation, WHMCS, HostBill, APS Standard, Flexiant, and Microsoft Windows Azure Pack.
- Expands data protection coverage – supports the running of virtual machines from backup, including physical machines, and enables disaster recovery scenarios and large-scale recovery, providing additional service package offerings.
- Provides advanced monitoring – includes automated self-service and monitoring for end users, and MSP monitoring tools for backup health and status.
At Acronis, we really believe in being as easy to do business with as possible. Our Cloud Partner Program is simple to understand and easy to join. Learn more on the Acronis Partner Program here.
Once there, partners can use our signup form to become cloud resellers for Acronis; they will be issued credentials for reselling the Acronis Cloud Services right away.
Jon McCarrick is Acronis Partner Technology Evangelist. Jon is a veteran in the cloud service provider space, having worked for Parallels and Open-xchange prior to joining Acronis. Jon's mission is to create an active community of service providers around the Acronis product line. Expect to visit with Jon at your favorite trade show or find him on your favorite social media platform.