Procurement · 26 March 2018

Small firms slam one-size-fits-all telecoms and banking services

Many small business owners believed they had been treated as regular consumers

Small UK business owners have blamed telecoms giants and the big banks for failing to help them take advantage of the digital revolution and boost growth.

In the “SMEs: Smallish Misunderstood Enterprises” study, from design and innovation consultancy Adaptive Lab, 95 per cent of small company owners said they now rely on technology in some way to run their business, with 53 per cent declaring technology as central to their business proposition.

However, 59 per cent slammed current offerings from service providers as “one-size-fits-all” with little tailoring to their business needs.

In categories including telecoms, banking and insurance, 40 per cent of business owners saw little difference between consumer and small business services – except for the initial expense.

Business owners criticised telecoms and banking providers for poor digital products and services ranging from business banking to mobile services.

Over half of respondents felt big corporate service providers treated all small firms the same and 56 per cent stated they didn’t trust big corporations to understand the challenges of running a small business.

Owners said service providers “paid lip service to wanting to help without genuine conviction or action”.

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Survey respondents said they were more willing to pay for services that free up their time to focus on their business. Just over half – 55 per cent – stated they would definitely pay more and a further 34 per cent said they would consider it.

The more complex the business or the more the ambitious the business owner, the more willing they were to pay.

“Working with business service providers we saw the same thing time and time again. Most service providers approach the SME segment as a homogeneous community, ignoring their diversity and unique needs,” said Chris Moisan, principal at Adaptive Lab.

“Is the definition of an SME still fit for purpose? The small and medium business sector is a mighty force in our economy. The opportunities are huge for any business willing to rethink their approach and reimagine services for SMEs, so we wanted to better understand the issues and scope of possibilities for both sides”.

Despite these concerns the SMEs in the survey said they were feeling ambitious. Indeed over 71 per cent are aiming for growth in the next three years.

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