Chris Thomas, CEO of incovo, told Nell Walker in May’s issue of Dealer Support about how he leads his business and why it’s thriving within a tough marketplace
One of Scotland’s most successful telecoms and document solutions businesses, incovo, has proven itself able to strike the perfect balance of high levels of innovation and strong customer relationships. This can be difficult to achieve, but the company’s 21-year-old CEO, Chris Thomas, knows what the modern business wants – and is prepared to deliver.
Chris took over the business at just 19 years old and, within a very short space of time, has done everything in his power to revitalise it – including managing over £759,000 worth of contracts. Chris’s father created incovo in 2002, leaving it to his sons Chris and Rocco Thomas when he passed away – and the young CEO has shown that he is up to the challenge. “This is a business that’s constantly evolving,” he says. “Almost every day there’s change of some sort happening. We are recruiting all the time, including individuals who have left and come back for a second stint at incovo. There are team members who first worked here when I was still in nursery!”
A strong team
Much of Incovo’s strength stems from the fact that it has held onto a lot of its customers for 15 years; customer retention is key for the business, and its caring ethos when it comes to customer service goes hand-in-hand with that. Typically, incovo has no sales people – just consultants and engineers, ensuring that customers always receive the information they need. “It’s all about the network we have,” Chris says. “We’ve been about for a while, we’re growing and, as the CEO of the company, I plan to expand in multiple areas. We’re doing this by building up a new customer base.”
Chris is doing this with the help of Andy Taylor, formerly the MD at Simple Digital and Steven Anderson, the client engagement executive. The pair are in the process of looking at the next wave of how the consumer experience is changing in order to get at least two years ahead of the competitors; this will also feed into future changes in the B2B market. incovo is planning to build an e-commerce tool onto the website where customers can easily design and order their own communications platform or design their own document solution that, for example, “Would allow our customer to have an Amazon.com type experience in that no human is involved. This automated process would have a background tool to ensure the design will work in a production environment, a finance-checker for lease purchasing, best industry pricing and a human support team if required,” Chris explains. That process would then be fed through to a project manager and then assigned to an engineer who would carry out the installation of the equipment or system.
Chris’s focus on innovation and the future workplace is something he attributes to his age. As a Gen Z-er, his youth gives him an edge – much of the incoming workforce is a similar age to him, and decision-makers are becoming younger all the time. He is able to concentrate solely on the company, and what it needs, by virtue of having both a ready-made company beneath him and a strong, experienced team around him which can counteract any difficulties he might come across. “incovo has a fantastic and experienced team in place to cover all areas of the business from legal, to marketing, to technical, to finance, to support and sales. I have focused a large part of the past year ensuring we have the correct people on board to support our growth and future of technology,” Chris says.
On top of this, Chris himself has earned the respect of his team not only by stepping up to the plate at such a young age, but also by improving the business dramatically in his first two years as CEO. “I feel I’ve been in business for 10 years since I took over, it was so intense in the first year or so,” he says. Currently, incovo is involved with a large project – an international telecoms installation for Cigna Healthcare that covers 3,500 users over seven sites globally. “It’s one of the biggest of its kind in the UK and shows how prepared incovo is to continue working with global customers grow even further. We’re already one of the biggest buying partners with Avaya in Scotland right now, being proudly awarded the Sapphire accreditation status in January. It’s just a case of looking at new technologies, customer experiences and the future of working.”
Solutions over products
People are, increasingly, choosing full solutions and one supplier over individual products and multiple suppliers. As a result, incovo now offers full cloud telephony solutions that integrate with mobile, and document management software to reduce paper and costs. Customers are driven towards businesses like incovo that have established themselves as a trustworthy company thanks to incredible departments filled with experts. “We have a strong buy-in power from our suppliers, so we’re able to offer premium products that result in solutions at competitive prices and a tailored support package which is evidently successful from our 17-years trading history.” Chris says.
One of the major points incovo has in its favour versus similar businesses is its company-wide engineering expertise. “Our initial point of contact when customers call our support desk is an engineer, and we can offer 24-hour support, globally. We can deliver modular packages and our amazing, accredited engineers are there to support customers and solve issues within our SLA’s. We’re now also using social media and web chat to communicate with our customers for support and sales which all in all makes customer experience better.”
Every call gets answered, every issue is fixed as they arise and, vitally, incovo is run by a person who is more than happy to take calculated risks. “I’m not scared of problems because I know can fix them” he says. “In fact, I’m not afraid of anything – I just make business happen and I’m looking forward to the bright future incovo has.”
Don’t forget to follow Dealer Support on Twitter!