With as many as five million Australians employed by small businesses, clearly many people rely on small businesses for their livelihood. Since most small businesses, in turn, rely on telecommunications services to be able to do business, it is essential these services be reliable. When a small business cannot access the Internet or make phone calls, orders cannot be taken or processed. When a small business operator waits in a call centre queue or is transferred between different customer service representatives trying to have a fault resolved, they are not only losing time, but money. This impact on productivity and turnover affects not only the small business owner, but its employees and customers.
To some extent, the experiences that small businesses have in relation to customer service and complaint handling mirror the experience of general consumers. In 2012, the Australian Communications & Media Authority registered an updated Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, which aimed to address some of these issues. In the 2011-12 financial year, complaints from small businesses to the independent Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) rose by 52% and in early 2013 made up around 13% of all complaints to the TIO.
To this end, ACCAN has produced guides that will provide small business consumers with the tools to assist them to:
- Understand their rights as a phone and internet consumer
- Become better educated in communications product selection
- Understand available complaint mechanisms
- Learn ways to get the most out of communications services they rely on
- Informing Small Business: Examining fixed phone and broadband products
- Small Business Telecommunications Service Use and Experience