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Increased Responsiveness Key to Competitive Customer Service for Small Businesses

  • Each lost customer costs small firms £4,910
  • 37% state that lack of responsiveness is to blame for poor customer service
  • Same day reply approach for responding to customer calls and emails
  • Over a fifth believe that mobile technology increases responsiveness by more than 50% 

November 24th 2006, London: Small businesses are suffering significantly reduced profits due to customer losses, with a lack of responsiveness identified as the biggest cause of poor service.  A nationwide survey carried out by YouGov Plc, in association with T-Mobile, has revealed that, on average, small firms are missing out on £4,910 of profit for each lost customer

In the last 12 months, small companies have lost at least four customers each.  Meanwhile, 37% believe that lack of responsiveness to queries contributes most to poor customer service.

In examining the approaches taken by small firms to customer communication, 88% reply to customer emails and 93% return customer calls within 24 hours.  A third (33%) respond to customer complaints immediately.

While 56% of respondents stated that they believe small firms are best at providing customer service, Derek Williamson, Head of Business Marketing at   T-Mobile UK, warns that to remain competitive, speed of response should be    re-considered.

“Evidence suggests that larger competitors are much quicker to respond to customers and this is a significant threat for small firms. An immediate response to customers is the ideal but small companies should, at the very least, examine ways in which queries, either via email or phone, can be replied to within a maximum of one to three hours.”

He adds, “By their very nature, small businesses are highly adaptable and are ideally placed to capitalise on the customer service opportunity. But at the same time resources can be limited. Therefore, it’s important to consider how technology, especially internet enabled mobile devices, can be used to ensure that customer relationships are never jeopardised through a lack of responsiveness.”

On average, Small Business Owner Managers (SBOMs) spend 37% of their time away from the office and for those that have access to mobile technology, the ability to respond to customers (35%) and progress emails (24%) whilst on the move are the two key benefits.  Over a fifth of small companies (24%) stated that mobile technology had increased responsiveness by more than 50%.

Although 62% of small firms invite customers to provide feedback on their services or products, just a fifth (20%) provide their staff with customer service training. Similarly, 55% do not conduct any research or analysis to monitor changes in customer needs.  To help small businesses fully exploit all customer communications,    T-Mobile has published a free white paper entitled, ‘The Role of Mobile Technology in Exceeding Customer Expectation’ which is available to download from:

“Superior customer service is not a mysterious art that only large firms with thousands of employees can ever hope to deliver. By focusing on a commitment to delivering great service by exceeding expectation, small businesses can, not only compete, but thrive,” concludes Williamson.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 888 owners or managers of small businesses in the UK employing 1-49 staff.  Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th October – 3rd November 2006.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have not been weighted.


Brands2Life :                          Tel:                  00 44 (0) 207 592 1200
Sophia Parviez :                     Tel:                  00 44 (0) 7017 150 150
                                               T-Mobile :       00 44 (0) 7908 208 417

About T-Mobile UK

T-Mobile is one of the world’s largest mobile operators with around 80 million customers worldwide and in the UK it is the network of choice for over 16 million customers, more than any other UK network.
T-Mobile has a range of innovative products and services such as Flext, a unique tariff offering customers flexibility; U-Fix, a tariff that combines pay-as-you-go and a monthly contract and Web'n'Walk, which enables customers to surf websites on the move. T-Mobile's network coverage is among the best in the UK (over 99% of the UK population) with one of the lowest dropped call rates.  It offers the largest worldwide Wi-Fi network, with over 1,100 HotSpots in business-friendly locations in the UK and 21,000 worldwide, and offers a rapidly expanding 3G network across the UK.
For more information about T-Mobile UK, please visit

¹ A nationwide survey of 888 small businesses, employing 1-49 staff, carried out by YouGov October 2006

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