It's an age old argument that we won't explore in too much depth (for obvious reasons) however, when it comes to customer service and business, it seems size does matter.
Here's a scenario for you...
You're looking to buy a car and you have a choice of 3 dealers, each selling exactly the same car, advertised at the same price.
Car Dealer 1 is a lone salesman based in a back-street. It has no signage, runs out of a disused garage with handwritten price cards in the car windows. There's an aura of distrust yet you know if you tried you would be able to haggle. Although there's also nothing to say as soon as you drive the car away, the bumper falls off and lo-and-behold, your salesman has disappeared.
Car Dealer 2 is a small, family-owned business, run by Grandfather, Father and Son. A friendly family who have been operating from the same small forecourt for 50 years. They promise to be there if anything should happen to the car, and you have a recommendation from a friend who says it's true. However, you know that custom like yours is what's keeping them in business so there's less wiggle room on the price. All 3 owners are there every time you visit the premises.
Finally, we have Car Dealer 3. They are a national car sales company. It's very polished and their forecourt is huge. The sales speil feels scripted, and their 'customer service guarantee' seems to have a few catches in it. If you have any queries they provide you with the number of a national call centre for you to call (and sit on hold for hours). Each time you return to the forecourt, you're greeted by someone different.
Which car dealer would you purchase from?
If you're like the majority of people we asked, you'd choose Car Dealer 2. They're reliable, trust-worthy and you'll receive a personal, friendly service. You know you're not just another number to them and your custom will be valued, and therefore you'll be looked after. They're local to you and you can pop in for a chat with them if you have an issue. Even when all other factors are the same (i.e. price and product), you still choose Car Dealer 2 because of the added value you'd receive. From the time you'd save when sitting on hold and the friendly customer service that comes as standard.
Yes, there is a point to this story, and it relates to telecoms too.
Research has found, in a study of 1,000 business owners from across the UK, over a quarter (27%) said the level of support they received from the big telecoms providers (such as Sky, Virgin & BT) was below average. 4% of those surveyed said the service they received was very poor. On the contrary, the smaller providers achieved a far higher customer satisfaction rating. 35% rated the quality of service received as good. 20% went further and said their service was very good.
In this day and age, businesses rely on their internet connection and phone line on a daily basis and any interruption to their services can have a huge impact on their business. It's imperative, therefore if something were to go wrong, they know that if they pick up the phone, an advisor will be able to swiftly and successfully resolve the issue.
Large Telecoms suppliers do have an established and trusted reputation with customers. This is why they are often the easy option when looking for a provider; "Go for the big provider, I've heard of them before".
Although research shows that customers may be happy with the speed and quality of the physical service received, it's the customer satisfaction and support that is lacking. This opens up the market for smaller providers to offer a superior service, delivering better customer support. It's the customer service that's valued, especially in such a commoditised market.
This is great news for SMEs, whether telecoms provider or any other business. It shows the population has more confidence in the 'little guys', providing, of course, they are able to deliver that exceptional customer service.
Thinking of starting a telecoms business? Or are you already an SME looking to add telecoms to your existing business? Why not check out our start up page or click below to download our eBook.