IT Service Providers Get ‘Thumbs Down’ from Small Businesses But Increasing IT Spend Creates Opportunity

New study predicts IT services spend will increase in 2016, indicating an opening for leaders in client satisfaction to capture growing market

WASHINGTON DC, Jan 20, 2016 – Small businesses are less than satisfied with their IT service providers, according to a new study conducted by Clutch, a leading B2B research firm. Despite relatively poor ratings from SMBs, nearly 40% of surveyed firms say they plan to increase spending on IT services in 2016, further enhancing the opportunity for market leaders.

Clutch’s study, which includes ratings of 800+ IT services firms, found that the average Net Promoter Score (NPS) for SMBs’ IT service providers was 13, compared to B2B professional services firms’ benchmark scores of 30+. NPS is a standardized measure of client satisfaction. These scores indicate definite client service challenges for IT service providers compared to other types of service providers.

Analysts admit that unfortunately, one of these challenges is that IT is too often not well understood, which can cause companies frustration with their service providers. 

“Clients often think IT is as simple as flipping a switch,” said Adam Barney, COO of Framework Communications, a managed IT services firm. “It’s very hard to judge performance and assess if you're getting good value when you don't understand some of the issues they ran into, why they had the impact they did, or why it took a certain amount of time.”

Other challenges that impact how favorable - or not - a SMB client views their IT service provider include the size and bandwidth of the IT service provider’s business.  Smaller specialized firms, for example, are often limited in their ability to provide high-level, strategic IT recommendations that their clients need. Similarly, due to the complexity of IT and numerous solutions available to clients, IT services firms sometimes outsource certain client needs to other vendors. This can make it difficult to control the quality of customer service and communication.

The survey suggests, however, that service providers that can address and manage these challenges will be poised to take advantage of the rising demand for IT services in 2016. By all indications, IT will continue to be a necessary investment for SMBs, and many will turn to IT service providers to meet that need.

“A client wants two things - their problems solved, and to feel like they matter to the consultant,” said Ed Kapelinski, president of Tympani, an IT consulting and engineering firm. “Stress to your team the importance of the client’s satisfaction, instill in them a customer service mindset, and be sure to regularly survey the client experience after each engagement.”

In Clutch’s first annual small business IT survey, 279 businesses with 500 or fewer employees were asked to rate a total of 831 IT service providers with which their company currently works. The study also measured the number of IT staff in house versus outsourced services, the status of the transition from break-fix to a managed services model, and the most popular IT services among SMBs.

The full results of the Clutch’s study can be found at

About Clutch

Clutch is a Washington, DC-based B2B research firm that identifies top service providers and solutions firms that deliver results for their clients. The Clutch methodology is an innovative research process melding the best of traditional B2B research and newer consumer review services. To date, Clutch has researched and reviewed 1000+ companies spanning 50+ market segments.


Natalie Beach