Customer satisfaction and retention, positive word of mouth and happy employees are the new barometers of success for Australian SMEs, according to a report, Moments that Matter – Understanding Australian SMEs, released by NAB.
Part one of NAB’s whitepaper explores what matters most for Australian SMEs and how they’re approaching business in 2017. The research reveals Aussie SMEs rank seeing a customer’s smile as the most important business moment, over other moments such as becoming a viable business (no. 2) or winning a big customer (no. 5).
Angela Mentis, Chief Customer Officer of Business and Private Banking at NAB, says the research affirms business owners are driven by customer satisfaction over things such as money, prestige and high turnover.
“SMEs are the backbone of the Australian economy, their success is central to our nation’s financial wellbeing.
“While sales and profits are important for Australian SMEs, it is clear customers are why thousands of small-business owners around the country get up and do what they do. Despite intense workloads and pressures on all fronts, business owners are energised and motivated by their customers to succeed,” says Mentis.
When asked to identify the measures of a successful business, one in three (33 per cent) rated high profits as an important measure – yet it was well behind other factors such as good financial management (58 per cent), positive word of mouth (56 per cent), customer retention (52 per cent) and productive staff (49 per cent).
And while SME’s are distinctly agile – with the majority (75 per cent) having changed the nature of their business since they were first established – they are still being held back by red tape.
“SME owners are often our most innovative businesspeople – they’re nimble enough to be ahead of the curve, and have the skills to understand how to manage the risks of the new and daring,” says Mentis.
“But it’s not good enough that over two-thirds of Australian SMEs still cite dealing with red tape as taking a lot of effort.
“From our conversations with customers across the country, we know businesses desperately want to spend more time on their businesses, and less time on dealing with paperwork. The effort to adhere to compliance comes at a considerable cost to them.
“Just as they put their customers at the heart of everything they do, we’re continuing to call on all levels of government and the business community to do the same for them.
“This is something we’re leading with simpler contracts, quicker access to credit online and we’re one of the first big companies to sign the Australian Supplier Code, providing greater certainty around payment times,” concludes Mentis.
Inside Small Business