Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Small businesses complain of ‘cost-of-working crisis’

The research was undertaken by connectivity provider TalkTalk Business (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The research was undertaken by connectivity provider TalkTalk Business (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Eight in 10 small businesses have said they are facing a “cost-of-working crisis” due to poor customer service from suppliers, according to a survey.

Conducted by telecommunications provider TalkTalk Business, the survey revealed two-thirds of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) work with suppliers who cite the pandemic as causing poor customer service, despite it being six months since the last set of Covid-19 restrictions ended.

The supplier issue has meant SMEs are unable to focus on economic challenges presented by the cost-of-living crisis – such as rising costs and inflation – with eight in 10 small businesses describing a “cost-of-working crisis”.

On average, SMEs spend 16 hours a month calling supplier customer service teams, which 62% have said results in less time spent focusing on their core business.

The most common issues faced include not having issues dealt with in one call (44%), being kept on hold (55%) and being passed being customer service agents (48%) by suppliers.

Man walking into a building, with a phone saying '12 months free' at the left hand side of the screen
Eight in 10 small businesses say they are facing a ‘cost-of-working crisis’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Businesses surveyed said support including speaking to the same agent (41%), speaking to a human customer support agent over an automated one (54%), and speaking to someone who understands their company ethos (36%) would enable them to effectively overcome cost-of-working issues.

Companies in the energy, telecoms, and water sectors were found to be more likely to let down their small business customers.

Just four in 10 independent firms said the customer service they received had improved since the pandemic.

Richard Jeffery, national director of The Growth Company – a social enterprise that aims to facilitate growth in the small business sector – said: “In these challenging times, it is critical business leaders are able to devote their full time and attention to the core issues surrounding their organisation.

“This report shows the impact of poor customer service and the amount of time SMEs spend dealing with it – time which would be better spent focused on their business.”

The study was conducted by Mortar Research among 510 SME business owners and decision makers in June.