News in brief: entrepreneurs, digital, Modern Slavery Act

News in brief
News in brief

New event for entrepreneurs

HSBC, in partnership with over 40 of the UK’s most successful business founders, has launched Entrepreneurs Exchange, an opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business, to be held on 18 May.

Attendees will find out how they started and grew their businesses, the challenges they have overcome to enable success, and the advice they wish they had been given when starting out.

Backed by HSBC, the free talks will also allow entrepreneurs to make contacts and build networks with business founders in their region.

Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Anna Soubry said:Small businesses are the engine room of our growing economy and the Government continues to back them by cutting red tape, reducing business taxes and boosting access to finance.

“But it’s people who do business who know what’s best for business. The Entrepreneurs Exchange events will be a great opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs to build valuable networks and hear from those who have been there, done that, and know what it takes to succeed.”

Consumers prefer the personal touch

Around 76% of UK consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues.

This is according to new research from Accenture which also found that 52% of consumers have switched provider in the past year due to poor customer service, with retailers, utility companies and internet service providers being the worst offenders. In the UK, the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service is £221bn.

“Companies have lost sight of the importance of human interaction and often make it too difficult for consumers to get the right level of help and service that they need,” said Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy MD Rachel Barton. “Companies wrongly assume that their digital-only customers are their most profitable, and that customer service is a cost. Consequently they over-invest in digital technologies and channels and lose their most profitable customers – multi-channel customers – who want experiences that cover both digital and traditional channels.”

Modern Slavery Act has knock-on benefits for SMEs

The positive cascading effects on SMEs’ supply chain management as a result of the Modern Slavery Act are already being called into question by new research compiled by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

From 1st April this year, under the terms of the Modern Slavery Act, UK businesses with a turnover of £36m or more, will be required to make an annual statement, setting out the steps they have taken to stamp out slave and child labour from their supply chains.

This legislation is designed to have a cascading effect on SMEs that fall below the £36 million threshold, to encourage them to ensure that their supply chains are also slavery-free. As larger businesses prepare their statements under the new rule, it seems that UK SMEs are shockingly unaware of this knock-on impact on them, and are unprepared to deal with forced and slave labour issues. The research, conducted among 263 UK businesses with turnovers under the £36 million threshold, found that 61% of UK SMEs are unaware of the reporting requirement, let alone its impact on them.

While more than eight in ten businesses with turnover under £36 million say that they have yet to discover slavery in their supply chain, this appears to be a result of ignorance over prudence with very few businesses actively looking for slavery in their supply chains. Just under a third of businesses (67%) surveyed, have never taken measures to keep their supply chains free of slavery; while 75% would not know what to do if they discovered slavery in their supply chain.