More than two thirds of people who endure bad customer service will share their experience with friends and family, according to a study.
Seven out of ten consumers will never forgive a business if they receive poor customer service, research finds.
More than two thirds (67 per cent) will also share their bad experience with an average of eight friends and family, according to a survey by O2.
The study reveals that excellent communication is most important to small business customers, with seven out of ten (71 per cent) saying they expect to be able to contact a business quickly and easily.
One in five customers even expect to be able to communicate with a business, such as through email, at any time, day or night.
As consumers become more digitally savvy, an increasing number are also choosing businesses based on their presence and reputation online. Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) consider small businesses that have a web and social media presence as progressive and up-to-date and nearly half (46 per cent) feel they are also customer focused.
Some 78 per cent say they automatically go online to research a small business before they use them and, a quarter of consumers would not use a company with no website.
Paul Lawton, general manager of SMB at O2 says, ‘We believe customers should be at the heart of any business. As the research shows, customer service and the ability to respond and be flexible is a key requirement for small businesses.
‘A company’s website or email address is often the first thing a customer sees and first impressions online are as important as they are face to face. And with 4G from O2 going live on the 29th August, we think consumers will only be more and more connected and expect a better digital experience from small businesses.’
The small businesses that consumers feel are most poorly served by technology are independent local shops, such as grocers, butchers or clothes shops. These are followed by tradesman and restaurants.
At the other end of the spectrum, people see businesses offering wedding services or loans and financial services as the most technologically savvy.