Personal touch still trumps online when it comes to advice

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Doing business face-to-face remains the most favoured way for companies to get advice and information, so says a new report from Milton Keynes boffins.

The Open University Business School (OUBS) has surveyed small businesses and found that while online-based advice is on the up, it is still trumped by the personal touch.

Dr Richard Blundel, senior lecturer in enterprise development at OUBS and editor of the report said: “Our findings suggest that, while web-based advice and information services are becoming increasingly important, most business owners and managers still value the personal touch.” The survey also found that accountants remain the most commonly cited source of helpful advice or information, identified by 50 per cent of businesses.

“Customers, suppliers and other business people’ are second (37 per cent), and banks take third place (31 per cent).”

The latest Quarterly Survey finds that face-to-face communication channels are the most popular ways to deliver business advice and information, identified by more than two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents. Government websites are second (55 per cent), followed by commercial websites (43 per cent) and telephone help-lines (42 per cent).

But the survey also showed that small companies make less use of business advice and information services than larger ones. Companies with growth plans also make more use of advice than those with no plans.

Areas where SMEs have actively sought business advice and information are: regulations and compliance, accounting, sales and marketing, financing and information technology.

Visit www.open.ac.uk/quarterly-survey