Networking giant Cisco has claimed the SME sector promises a wealth of opportunity for the channel, after it polled a wide selection of smaller UK firms to gauge their performance in the economic downturn.
The company questioned 1,000 owner/directors of UK SMEs with between five and 100 employees for its Cisco Customer Kings report. The research was carried out to give Cisco a better idea of how SMEs are weathering the economic climate and how vital customer service has become to these firms.
Bernadette Wightman, UK and Ireland channel managing director at Cisco, said: “Interestingly, 88 per cent of those surveyed believed that a successful business was based on the personal approach when selling to customers, and a third of respondents were happy with the service they received from resellers.”
A further 76 per cent believed that staff attitudes matter. Almost 47 per cent of those surveyed believed that miserable employees should be removed from an organisation as a way of protecting customer relationships.
The results also revealed that just four per cent of SMEs have invested in technology to streamline customer processes in the past year, and 2.5 per cent invested in technology to manage customer data in the same period.
“The SME sector has been hit quite hard, but where firms close down, others start up. It is a fluid space and promises lots of opportunity for the channel. We are going to continue to invest in this area and build out new programmes all the time,” Wightman added.
Bob Tarzey, service director at analyst Quocirca, said: “I think there is always an opportunity for SMEs to drive more out of their IT infrastructure, streamline processes and improve communications.
“However, I think Cisco may have a problem because in a recession the best way for SMEs to do that would be through software investment rather than hardware.”
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