Home Business IT Networking Small businesses paying business grade prices for consumer grade customer service

A survey of Australian small business' use of telecommunications services suggests that most are paying a premium for 'business grade' services but experiencing customer service that is no better than that offered to consumers.

The survey,  of 260 businesses with less than 20 employees was undertaken by Market Clarity for ACCAN. It produced a litany of complaints from respondents detailing experiences with telcos' customer service that would be familiar to many consumers, such as long waits on hold, being transferred between multiple operators, having to make multiple calls to get an issue resolved.

Market Clarity called on telcos to provide much clearer differentiation between business grade and consumer grade services.

"Questions remain as to the precise definition of a business grade service, and how it might vary by provider," it said. "For example, what are the service level agreements (SLAs) that apply to business grade services, and how do they differ from a provider's residential service? Are separate customer service areas allocated to business customers? Are account managers allocated to business customers? In choosing a business grade service, what decision criteria do business customers apply?

ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, said: "The time spent trying to get telecommunications problems fixed particularly impacts small businesses, as it is frequently the owner or a senior employee who is forced to spend time on resolving these issues; the smaller the business, the greater the impact."

She pledged that ACCAN would "continue to work with small business organisations to help them to find ways to minimise the impact of both outages and customer service and complaint - handling issues."

Corbin noted that small business complaints now make up almost 14 percent (27,000) of all complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, an increase of 18 percent on the previous year.

According to Market Clarity "Forty six percent of fixed voice services users; 29 percent of VoIP users; 32 percent of fixed broadband users; 33 percent of mobile voice users; 21 percent of mobile broadband users and 11 percent of EFTPOS users have experienced a significant customer service issue...

"Key issues reported by small business, across all service types were the significant amount of time spent on calls and needing to call their service provider multiple times on the same issue."

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Stuart Corner

 

Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.

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