UK small and medium-sized enterprises place less of an emphasis on the importance of customer service than their continental peers.
UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) place less of an emphasis on the importance of customer service than their continental peers.
Some 29 per cent of UK SMEs believe that customer service is a critical market differentiator in the current climate, compared with 84 per cent and 77 per cent of companies in Spain and Italy respectively, according to a study by the Epson Business Council.
Despite the findings, two thirds (66 per cent) of UK SMEs believe that customer acquisition is the only realistic growth strategy in the current climate.
Epson UK director Neil Colquhoun says, ‘Companies still aren’t placing enough emphasis on customer service, despite the fact it is a key driver of growth in today’s climate. UK owners and managers are currently only spending 29 per cent of their working week in front of customers, which simply isn’t enough if they’re looking to expand and offer the support many customers demand.’
Maintaining a record of customer data is also an issue the research highlights, with 70 per cent of UK businesses reporting that it would be a considerable or massive effort to keep an extensive database of customer information during the next year.
Companies in countries throughout Europe, however, are capitalising on new technology to aid their customer engagement with 75 per cent of businesses considering modern IT equipment as vitally important in helping in this area. Again, the UK is lagging behind significantly, with less than half (49 per cent) believing technology to be important in this effort.
Phil McCabe, senior policy adviser at the Forum of Private Business adds, ‘In the year of the Olympics, when many British businesses will be presenting our public face to the globe, it’s important that leaders from the small business community are prioritising [customer engagement] in the year ahead and not leaving it as an afterthought.’
See also: Customer service causes strife