Boasting claims of improved productivity and communications, Microsoft is offering a new tool to help small business users switch from Gmail.

Microsoft might also want to offer a similar feature for Yahoo Mail customers after recent problems that just seem to be growing worse. 

Switch or Stick?

Switching providers is a fact of business life. Every day, companies change things from their broadband and communications companies to bottled water supplier. So why do hundreds of millions of users and small businesses feel wedded to their original email provider?

Microsoft is trying to unstick users from Gmail with a tool it claims makes it easier to migrate accounts to, the successor to Hotmail. That would allow users to take advantage of Skype and Office 365 integration, make email easier to use on Windows phones and possibly provide other benefits, depending on how integrated the customer is with Microsoft. 

Switching has always been possible before, but often requires lots of hoop jumping. The new tool helps move mail — and its status — plus contact lists and labels in one step.  Users can then set up a redirect to send all their new email to the new account. It keeps the flow of mail into while telling customers about the new email address. 

Learning Opportunities

Leaving The Yahoo Way

The Microsoft announcement, citing discontent with Gmail, might have been better focused on Yahoo, which has left a lot of small business customers mad as hornets over repeated outages and failed fixes.

Yahoo Mail is still struggling to recover from a series of outages, as well as that fact that its Small Business hosting services managed to disconnect websites and email services for an undisclosed number of companies. 

That level of service interruption and the resulting social media barrage on its Facebook page shows there are plenty of angry Yahoo customers just waiting to take their business elsewhere. Yahoo discontinued its Classic Email service earlier in the year and revamped its apps for mobile.  But among all the company's change and ongoing transformation, it seems to have forgotten some of the basics of customer service. 

If your business uses Yahoo or Gmail as an easy and free (or low-cost) email solution, are you tempted to move to, which — lets not forget — has had its own problems this year. What does it take to get business users to switch? Or are even the simplest solutions too much hassle for most business users?