All the smaller, and often bizarre and humorous, SME-related stories from Australia and abroad that we’ve come across this week.
Vodafone has just introduced new mobile plans that allow its customers to use their existing call, text and data inclusions while travelling in the UK, US and New Zealand for a flat $5 a day, a move that telco says will combat bill shock surrounding international roaming. Vodafone says that mobile phone users who don’t buy a data pack to use while overseas are charged ridiculously high default rates of up to $20,000 for 1GB of data. Now that’s scary.
A survey by O2 in the UK has found that seven out of ten consumers will never forgive a small business if they receive poor customer service, and 67 per cent will also share their bad experience with an average of eight friends and family. Further interesting figures from the survey include:
- 71 per cent of customers expect to be able to contact a business quickly and easily, and one in five even expect to have the ability to communicate with a business – for instance, sending an email – at any time, day or night.
- 63 per cent considered small businesses that have a web and social media presence as progressive and up-to-date and nearly half (46 per cent) felt they were also customer focused.
- 78 per cent said they automatically go online to research a small business before they use them and if a small business doesn’t have a website, a quarter of consumers simply won’t use them.
Small businesses in Central Queensland are feeling the effect of the mining downturn. Australian Mining cites a Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland survey for the June quarter showed Queensland’s business conditions was 5-10 index points lower than the state average. The survey said business confidence for the June quarter stood at 43 per cent, eight per cent lower than North Queensland. This is predicted to jump during the present quarter to 50.9 per cent, putting business confidence in neutral.
SMEs are more popular with customers than larger companies, but convenience and price are hurdles according to recent AXA Business Insurance research among UK consumers. SME web reports that AXA found that three times as many consumers would choose a small business for goods or services than a large business if price and convenience were equal. AXA found that opening hours are the biggest reason that consumers shop from big rather than small businesses, with price the second biggest reason. Read the full story here.
German SMEs are struggling to find skilled workers, says Ernst & Young, with the worst hit sectors being construction and energy, followed by trade, services and industry. The majority of SMEs E&Y questioned said the difficulty in finding staff weighed on their turnover, with 64 per cent complaining the figure would be at least three per cent higher otherwise.
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