Small, family run businesses in Ipswich provide far superior customer service to big national chains, a study found yesterday. Nationwide research among 3,000 consumers for TheBestOf revealed 77 per cent of people in the Ipswich area enjoy shopping at smaller stores and businesses because staff are 'more approachable and knowledgeable' about products and prices.
Consumers branded many workers in bigger companies 'not fully equipped' to deal with questions or queries and said most lacked training. Customers love the personal service they receive at smaller companies, and appreciate that staff are knowledgeable about their field and products. But big companies have also come under fire for being too pre-occupied with making money and having no time for their customers.
The poll was commissioned by 'TheBestOf' to launch its '14 Days of Love' campaign which invites people to ‘show some love’ to the millions of local small firms, shops and stores, across the UK. From Monday, thebestof is set up a ‘Love-O-Meter’ on its website (www.thebestof.co.uk/loveometer) featuring the most loved businesses in each town and people can get involved by ’sharing their love’ and influencing the Love-o-Meter score for each business. At the end of the 14 Days of Love the Top 20 Most Loved Ipswich Businesses and top 100 for the UK will be unveiled.
Kevin Barber from TheBestOf Ipswich, which champions local businesses said: "This survey shows that big companies just don’t cut it when it comes to customer service, product knowledge or experience. They are routinely outclassed by small local firms who are much better at providing the personal touch that Brits value.
“14 Days of Love’ is all about showing some love and appreciation to the great small business owners in Ipswich, that have kept our economy going over the last 18 months and who look after their customers brilliantly.”
The poll reveals that big businesses could indeed learn a lot from their smaller rivals operating in Ipswich. For instance 80 per cent of folk in the Ipswich region believe staff working in larger businesses often don't know as much as they should about their products and services.
A further 86 per cent believe large companies are too pre-occupied with making money, and six in 10 people say staff need better training. In fact, 54 per cent of those polled in Ipswich say they have had an argument with someone in a large national company due to poor customer service.
And half of all Brits have formally complained about a business in the last 12 months for its lack of service, bad staff attitudes and over-charging - nine out of 10 of these businesses were big national chains.
In contrast, 80 per cent of people across the UK like the fact that people who own and work for smaller businesses are more ardent about what they do. And 67 per cent believe smaller family run companies look after their staff better than the bigger conglomerates.
This attitude is mirrored by consumer behaviour - as 57 per cent nationally say they have made the effort to compliment a small business on the good service they have received.
Eight in 10 people believe smaller businesses deserve more recognition for the role they play in the community, and 82 per wish local businesses received more support to help them maintain their position in the community and move forwards.
Nigel Botterill, Chief Executive of TheBestOf explains: "Over one in five people said that there was a small local firm that they just couldn’t live without. That’s an incredibly strong statement. Yet few of us – me included – think to tell our most loved businesses how important they are, and how much we appreciate them.
“Small businesses get precious little media attention compared to their big national rivals and yet, as our research shows, they deliver so much more. I urge everyone in Ipswich to spend a bit of time in the next couple of weeks celebrating the truly great local businesses and hidden gems in the area. Tell them how you feel in person. Better still go to thebestof website and ‘big up’ the local firms that really make a difference to you. Let’s give them the recognition they deserve.”
To declare your love for a local business in Ipswich go to: www.thebestof.co.uk/sharethelove
MOST VALUED LOCAL BUSINESSES
10. Pet shop
Member since: 10th July 2012
Ipswich word of mouth specialist, promotes and markets the best businesses in Ipswich. Passionately supporting local businesses, organisations and events