We Brits aren't the best at shopping around or generally showing our dissatisfaction. While complaining is pretty much a national sport, taking action certainly isn't.
Recent research showed people are more likely to get divorced than switch from a bank account they're unhappy with, and the same is sadly true of business IT and communications.
Being bounced around global call centres might be a running joke among BT customers, but this reputation for poor customer service can creep into BT's business offering too – especially for SMEs. BT own the copper and fibre network in the ground, right?
So buying telephony and connectivity from anyone else just means more delays if things go wrong while they deal with BT, right? Well actually, that's not always the case.
Faster fault resolution
Businesses also wrongly believe that BT will manage faults better than independent service providers (ISPs), because they own the network. In fact, ISPs now have equal access into Openreach network systems, with the same visibility as BT itself.
What's more, business-only service providers can afford to employ expert UK-based support engineers, who can often use the diagnostic tools available to resolve problems faster than call centre agents in far-off lands.
Essentially, organisations stay in this unhappy marriage with BT (despite the poor service and the higher prices) because of inertia. Company bosses and managers worry about the hassle and disruption of change.
But the broadband migration processes encouraged by Ofcom now means it is quick, simple and cheap to switch to a better broadband provider. Maintaining the same phone numbers is usually very straightforward too – and the best independent business service providers will have specialist migration teams on hand to make everything hassle-free.
Start shopping around
As a business owner don't you deserve and expect some white-glove service? Rather than feeling like a small cog in a very large machine, independent providers typically have a much greater emphasis on customer service.
A good starting point when beginning to shop around is to look for a service provider that easily lists the boss's name; access to a mobile phone number is an added bonus. If their organisation isn't transparent and accessible, then how can they possibly be in a position to help your business when you need them most?
In many respects, business is a bit like a marriage. You need a bit of give and take, a lot of trust and a mutual understanding of what is required to make the relationship work.
If you're spending more time ironing out the kinks in your telecoms contract than you are with your real-life significant other, it sounds like it's time to issue that divorce summons sooner rather than later.
- Sandra Hine is Timico's Director of Business Services. She focuses on sales and customer service for small and medium sized businesses.