By Daniel Hunter
O2 Business have announced research showing a whopping seven out of ten consumers (72 per cent) will never forgive a small business if they receive poor customer service — and more than two thirds (67 per cent) will also share their bad experience with an average of eight friends and family.
This new research highlights the need for small businesses to invest in new technology to grow and thrive. The research reveals that excellent communication is most important to small business customers, with seven out of ten (71 per cent) saying they expect to be able to contact a business quickly and easily. One in five customers even expect to have the ability to communicate with a business — for instance sending an email — at any time, day or night.
As consumers become more digitally savvy, an increasing number are also choosing businesses based on their presence and reputation online. Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) considered small businesses that have a web and social media presence as progressive and up-to-date and nearly half (46 per cent) felt they were also customer focused.
Nearly four in five (78 per cent) said they automatically go online to research a small business before they use them and, perhaps even more alarming for small business owners who don’t have a website, a quarter of consumers said they simply won’t use them.
A business of any size can now have a professional presence and image online, and Microsoft Office 365 from O2 makes it easy to create business email addresses and design and build websites. These personalised domain names establish a cohesive brand and business profile — and everything can be managed in-house.
“We believe customers should be at the heart of any business, and this includes our own organisation. As the research shows, customer service and the ability to respond and be flexible is a key requirement for small businesses," Paul Lawton, General Manager of SMB at O2, commented.
"The Microsoft Office 365 packages we offer are perfect for this, as they allow small businesses to be increasingly flexible and agile to meet the needs of their customers, and connect with them on any device even if they’re on the move.
“Technology not only helps a business develop strong customer relationships, but also build a credible reputation online. As our research shows, a company’s website or email address is often the first thing a customer sees and first impressions online are as important as they are face to face. And with 4G from O2 going live on the 29th August, we think consumers will only be more and more connected and expect a better digital experience from small businesses.”
The small businesses that consumers feel are most poorly served by technology are independent local shops, such as grocers, butchers or clothes shops. These are followed by tradesman and restaurants. At the other end of the spectrum, people see businesses offering wedding services or loans and financial services as the most technologically savvy.
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