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80% of small businesses face a cost-of-working crisis

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Suppliers still blaming poor customer service on pandemic

A new study of small business owners has shown that eight in 10 small businesses are concerned that they face a ‘cost-of-working crisis’, threatening the business’s viability. In addition, many say that poor customer service from suppliers is affecting their ability to focus on rising costs and inflation.

According to the connectivity provider TalkTalk Business research, 67% of small business owners say they work with a supplier that has blamed poor customer service on the pandemic, even though the last set of COVID-19 restrictions were done away with six months ago.

With SMEs spending an average of 16 hours a month on the phone with supplier customer service teams, 62% believe this issue takes attention from their core business. In addition, they believe that better customer service from suppliers will allow them to focus on overcoming their current financial challenges.

The most common customer service issues that SMEs face are:

  • Being on hold (55%)
  • Being passed between customers service agents (48%)
  • Not having issues dealt with in one call (44%)

Only 40% of respondents say that the customer service they receive has improved since the pandemic. A further 64% agree that poor customer service from their suppliers is affecting their bottom line.

Improvements in the customer service support that SMEs would like to see include:

  • Having issues dealt with efficiently (59%)
  • Speaking to a human customer service representative instead of an automated system (54%)
  • Dealing with one agent throughout (41%)
  • Receiving friendly service (37%)
  • Speaking to an agent who understands their business (36%)

Yifat Castle, a TalkTalk Business customer, and Owner of Artisan Gelato and Sorbet Company, said:“As a business that sells a luxury product, we’re apprehensive of what’s to come in the next few months despite a strong start to the year. Our factory is energy intensive, so we know that unfortunately we’re going to be paying higher bills.”

“Good customer service from my suppliers is imperative, so it’s reassuring to know I have it with TalkTalk Business. Speaking to a human to resolve issues quickly is the absolute priority, as it allows me to focus on the things that matter for my customers.”

TalkTalk Business and The Growth Company have partnered to help small businesses secure better customer service from their supplier.

Jonathan Kini, Managing Director, Direct Consumer and B2B, commented: “The past two years have been incredibly challenging for small businesses, who are the beating heart of our economy. We’re proud to partner with The Growth Company to provide advice to small businesses on how they can secure the best customer support to enable them to focus on the issues that matter.”

“TalkTalk Business strives to offer its small business customers the best value packages on the market, combining fast, reliable connectivity with industry-leading customer service.”

Richard Jeffery, National Director of The Growth Company, said: “In these challenging times, it is critical business leaders are able to devote their full time and attention to the core issues surrounding their organisation. This report shows the impact of poor customer service, and the amount of time SMEs spend dealing with it, time which would be better spent focused on their business.”


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