By September 26, 2018 Read More →

Customer Service: Knowledge is Power!

Varilight’s Andrew Wilson reflects on the growing importance of knowledgeable personnel in customer service functions to support wholesalers. Varilight won the Best Supplier Customer Service award in this year’s EW Awards.


With the current focus on smart technologies in the wiring accessories market, such as programmable lighting control products and integrated home automation systems, it is increasingly important for manufacturers to take a fresh look at the support services they offer.

It’s no longer sufficient to launch great products into the market without considering the support wholesalers require to educate their customers about features and benefits. Knowledge is power for wholesalers and therefore needs to be freely available and readily accessible.

At Varilight, we were quick to identify the growing importance of customer support in the service we offer our customers. As a result, providing easy access for customers to knowledgeable personnel and product information has been at the forefront of our business planning.

We set ourselves the target of achieving excellence in customer services and were delighted to be rewarded for our efforts with the Electrical Wholesaler Award earlier this year for Best Supplier Customer Service.

As a first step it’s important for manufacturers to review how readily available product information is for customers to find and how easy it is to understand. At Varilight we have concentrated on making information more readily accessible on our website with data sheets, which include product images, available across our comprehensive product range.


Our website has detailed datasheets on over 4,000 product lines with links to instruction manuals which can be viewed online or downloaded. We have also published a series of popular how-to videos on our website, which are also available via the Varilight TV channel on YouTube.

More complex products inevitably require more support to be available and so well informed support personnel are an increasingly important asset for a manufacturer, supporting wholesalers by providing guidance on product selection, installation and aftercare.

The customer services team at Varilight works alongside skilled technicians and other experienced personnel at our manufacturing base in West Sussex, enabling us to provide unrivalled customer support. Our aim is to continually improve the experience of both those seeking guidance on product selection and also those requiring assistance after having purchased one of our products.

To this end we introduced a new call-handling system to enable knowledgeable and experienced members of staff to provide customers with an improved service, reducing waiting times and improving efficiency. This was supplemented by a new online support ticket facility to provide wholesalers and end-users with the opportunity to raise support requests outside of office hours or whenever that option is more convenient than making a phone call, perhaps because they wish to attach images or a video to their ticket.

A support ticket facility has the advantage of providing the facility to track the progress of an enquiry and, for the supplier, to better manage their customer services performance by using metrics to measure our performance as they seek to optimise the customer services experience they deliver.


Despite innovations like these, providing opportunities for face-to-face interactions remain a vital component in supporting wholesalers. In a world of emails, phone calls, and online ordering, it’s always refreshing to have someone you can personally direct your enquiries to, and put a face to the name.

So, having knowledgeable field sales staff remains an important part of a manufacturer’s customer service package. Not only are field sales personnel able to identify areas where more information is required to support wholesalers, for example on merchandising units and display boards, but they can also gather valuable feedback.

Wholesalers are operating at a different point in the supply chain to manufacturers and are well-placed to share with manufacturers key information, for example on sales trends, product design, performance and functionality. At Varilight, the feedback we get back from wholesalers forms a vital part of our product development process.

Sharing knowledge should be a two-way process and therefore it’s crucially important for manufacturers to have systems in place to harness the valuable information wholesalers are able to provide.

At Varilight, we encourage all our customer-facing personnel to capture the feedback they receive, whether it be from wholesalers, installers or end-users, to help us improve our performance and further enhance our product offering.