Why are BT so sh!te?

Now I realise that this is very much a ‘first world problem’, and I’m not going to die or have a nervy B because I can’t get BT Sport, but…
Ever since I signed up and paid for my BT Vision Box, it’s been far from a great experience.

From ordering me 2 boxes, and charging me for both. To sending out an engineer after I cancelled the appointment with them (this is the best way to get someone to turn up I think, cancel, and then they’ll send them round anyway), to the recording of the UFC not working, to the disappearance of my BT Sport channels this weekend. It’s just not gravy.

Here are the highlights of my BT phone call, which lasted about an hour, before I got cut off anyway:

Here’s my friend’s blog account of his failed mission to get the internet in his new home:

Another thing that really annoys me, is their website. Specifically the section about the TV channels.

You think you’re getting something for £0BT customer service

Then it becomes £10 as soon as you click the red button:
Customer Service

Then before you actually realise, without selecting anything else, you are opting up to paying £27.99 per month, and a one off cost of £55.95

This might be great for Conversion Rate Optimisation, but it’s a typical example of why your brand is not longer held in great regard; no longer trusted, no longer out to help the customer (or potential customer). KPIs have blinded long term trust and reputation.

Now, you have to laugh at things like this, don’t get angry; there’s plenty that goes wrong in the world and this is really nothing major.
However, I would prefer it if businesses like this focused more on developing a good product, and less on sales and marketing. And maybe throw in a bit of customer service too.

Related article about Steve Jobs focusing on product, not profits

One final note – don’t be aggressive to the people that work in the call centres. They’re just the low-paid buffer between the customer and the big-money decision makers.
Having worked in a call centre for 5 years, I know how I’d bend over backwards to help the rare people that were actually nice. As long as you ask the right questions like “can I speak to your manager please?” if you’re not happy, and “please can you give me the address of the relevant ombudsman?” you should have the same result as you would get ranting etc.

Keeping Fit into Middle Age

There comes a point, when you realise that lifting heavy weights, with horrific posture and poor technique, just isn’t a sustainable way to keep fit.

Here are some tips on keeping fit, as you approach your mid 30s:

1. Warm up like a mofo
Can’t emphasise this enough, one injury when your 35, and you might never recover.  Wear plenty of layers and get a sweat on before you do any explosive exercises or lift heavy.  If you’re doing weights, make sure you do 3 or 4 warm up sets with lighter weights

2. Stretch, Stretch & Stretch
Buy a foam roller, and a lacrosse ball.  Use them everyday, and stretch, a lot.  Consider taking up yoga or pilates.

Foam roller
Image Source

3. Do what you enjoy, but modify it a bit
For example, I can’t hit ‘thai pads’ anymore, my shoulders and wrists just can’t take it.  So I have to stick to the boxing pads. There’s normally a way to adapt if you are keen enough.  Try not to make an excuse and be negative about an injury; you can normally train around them.  Be very careful though, if something hurts during or afterwards, its not a sustainable or sensible way to train.

How Important is the Right Accountant?

When someone goes about starting a business, the nervousness and the excitement is highly motivating, and it’s easy to get straight stuck into doing all the interesting stuff, like the marketing, sorting out the website and creating your company logo.

Accountants in Chester
Image Source

It is important however, to get the basics in place first, and to give the fundamentals, and the ‘boring stuff’ the same thought, care and enthusiasm as the more interesting and rewarding elements of starting your own company.

Choosing the right accountant for example, is not the most exciting task, but can be pivotal in regards to your businesses success.  It’s pretty interesting, but also a bit worrying, that any Joe Bloggs can call him or herself an accountant without any relevant credentials or qualifications.  In spite of this fact, very few business owners speak to a number of potential accountants, or research around them and their reputation. This is potentially a huge mistake.

Ensure that any accountant you are considering hiring, are qualified through one of the main associations/accrediting bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW),the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

It goes without saying, or it should do, that you should also look into how you will pay your accountant. Are there set fees, or does he/she charge an hourly rate?  If possible choose someone that can audit and advise you in regards to your business, as well as being a bookkeeper. Ideally your accountant will have experience in your business sector; but not conflicts of interest.

Ensure that you do not choose an accountant, just because they are situated right next to your office. It is an important decision, that should not be just a quick decision or after-thought.  They will after all, be in charge of your money.  Look what happened to Mike Tyson!  (he wasn’t screwed over by an accountant, but still…).

I live in North Wales, right on the border with England, and my accountant is based in Chester.  It’s definitely worth looking outside your home town. I did have an accountant based in Wrexham, but it was impossible to speak to, or get in touch with him, via phone or email, so he may of well be based in Australia.  Good customer service and ‘contactability’ are also crucial.


Why are Teenagers so Badly Behaved? (well, some of them)

After being woken up at 4am by a car full of teenagers, who went on to vandalise the neighbour’s car, I thought I’d ask the perpetual question:

Why are kids so badly behaved these days?

I remember this question being constantly asked about my generation, twenty or so years ago; here are some theories:

  • Role Models
    Good role models are absent in the media, although David Beckham is an exception (arguably).  But your typical football player or pop star aren’t exactly well behaved
  • Break down of the family unit
    Related to role models, young boys for example, are very lucky if they have a hard working Dad who is a ‘good citizen’; and even more lucky if he spends time with his son.
  • Lack of discipline in schools
    Not the teachers’ fault, they just don’t have enough powers to do anything about naughty children
  • Lazy parents
    My generation of parents – some of them are just, well, scumbags. I’m a firm believer that we’re all a result of our environment and our genetics, and don’t blame anyone for how they are, but something has gone wrong along the way with some of the parents about nowadays
  • Poor Diet
    Diet, and gut health are related to ADHD and all other behavioural problems.

How to Raise Successful Children

As someone who has never ‘raised’ any children, these points may not hold a great deal of credence; having said that here are my thoughts:

Pretend that Traffic Jams are Fantastic and Joyful
One of the great dividers, in terms of people who are successful, and those who are not, appears to be their willingness to travel.  I hate travelling in the car (like most people); but wish I actually enjoyed it – then a commute from North Wales to Manchester every day would be a dream come true.

traffic jam

Allow them to Backchat, a little
If you’re someone with great manners, and always empathising for others etc. You’ll find it more difficult to be successful.  You’re unlikely to be great at sales for example.  Obviously you need your child to be well behaved, so they don’t become some kind of delinquent; but if they sit in silence in the corner when they’re told to because “children should be seen and not heard”; they may find it difficult when it comes to board meetings and the like.

Get them to take up a Sport & Go to the Pub
The college of knowledge, is basically the pub. You learn the ways of the world, and gain social skills, something that uni never does.  Sport is great for building character, and encouraging a competitive spirit.

Just my unqualified 2 pence!

Disability inactivity

Small Businesses and Accessibility for Disabled Customers & Clients

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) states that businesses that provide ‘goods and services’ must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people.

The DDA may influence your entire business, from how you treat your staff, people who apply for jobs at your business, and of course – your customers.  If you fail to do what is deemed as reasonable to adapt your business to the needs of disabled people, then legal action could be taken against you.

If you’re not motivated by compliance with the law (or the ethics behind disability access), a free service created by directenquiries.com allows businesses with ‘good’ access and facilities for people with disabilities to be listed on their directory.

Direct Enquiries will also provide an action plan to identify areas that need improvement.  These are generally simple changes that can be done at low or no cost to the business.

The directory and the corresponding action plan aims to encourage more businesses to improve their access and services, and in doing so, attract more of the UK’s disabled individuals.

In addition to the improvements in disability access (to new buildings and businesses in general); there has been an increase in the sale and manufacture of recreational vehicles and cycles for the disabled, or people with specific needs.

Inactivity is a major problem; and can compound existing health problems for people with mobility issues:

Disability inactivity

Companies such as Quest88 are now providing a range of disability aids and cycles that give disabled people a range of ways to become active.  With the success of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics this market has seen an exponential increase over the last 3 years – improving people’s lives and boosting British manufacturing at the same time.

Kiosks point of sale

How Point of Sale Is Evolving

As technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate, point of sale is developing to correspond with customer’s expectations of speed and efficiency. The shift from traditional high street and in-store shopping, to online shopping, represents a demand for convenience.  The rise of internet speeds, web-enabled mobile phones and the increase in the use of tablets like the Nexus and iPads; is good news for online retailers, but creates a separate issue of optimisation across channels.

The issue of Conversion Rate Optimisation across different platforms and technology is the subject of many articles, and many tutorials; however less is written about integration across platforms.  Over the past 5 years, in order to meet customers’ preferences and to increase efficiency, a number of retailers have launched online kiosks in store.

The kiosks are able to provide the customers with detailed brand and product information at the touch of a button (or maybe a few buttons).  They can also check availability of specific products and many kiosks now come complete with chip and pin technology, so that customers can effectively ‘self-serve’ themselves, and potentially avoid long queues and delays that are often seen in busy retails outlets.  They can also potentially be integrated with mobile phones, remembering customer details, and even enabling customers to use coupons found online.

In the aftermath of the last British recession, people are demanding more product information and specifications before making a purchase. Kiosks are an ideal way of providing instant access to this information without over-stretching resources in terms of staff time and availability.   In addition some larger stores stock thousands of products; with dozens available for a given purpose.

Kiosks point of sale
Image Source

Kiosks can help people follow simple questions, and narrow down results to give one, or several products that perfectly fit the customer’s individual needs and requirements.

Kiosks can also provide retailers with additional information to fill their ever-expanding database of customer data.  Customer journeys and ‘bottlenecks’ now have a whole new dimension; as does Conversion Rate Optimisation.

This information can be applied relatively easily, as most e-commerce kiosks can be updated with relative ease. Are in-store kiosks the Sales Assistants of the future?  Hopefully not literally, but they can certainly be used to streamline store processes and optimise sales figures.

Keeping your Business on the Straight & Narrow

We all know the stat, well, approximately – 90% (ish) of businesses fail in the first year…

Most of us have dreams of starting a particular type of business. Be that as it may, when the fantasy turns into a reality, many don’t really have a clue about running or maintaining a business.

There is both an art and a science behind running a successful business. From the income administration through to the business’ operational procedure. There is a wealth of learning and data for organisations to influence, with the goal that they can control their business in the right course. From choosing the right accountant, to sorting out the company website; there is lots to learn, and fast, when you start your own business.

Business blog
Image Source

The longer it takes people to pick up and learn basic business procedures and best practices, the more money it will cost.
So what are a few things that they can do? All things considered, they can embrace courses that won’t upset their business hours and permit them to take in the essentials that will make their business develop.  Courses are normally available on bookkeeping and business management at local vocational colleges.

The business must have clear and quantifiable objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Without an unmistakable system, the business will be meandering heedlessly and there won’t be any reasonable strides for the associations movement. This will influence the business all in all and workers inside of the business. Choices that will influence the business’ development will dependably return to the business technique that is set up.

The business can just become effectively if there is an in number group of representatives, consultants and offices that are working towards the fruitful execution of the method. The business should have an in number ability securing procedure and needs to recognize and contract ability that will best execute the method for the business. The ability ought to be procured taking into account quantifiable results. Enlist a group of authorities that will be committed to dealing with the complete workload for one of the offices in the association, to guarantee that specific zone of the business is performing as per the dispensed targets.

Income is lord to a business. It is key for dealing with the development and money related danger to a business. The straightforward guideline is to keep expenses low and to keep income high. This likewise means overseeing organization income and benefit conjectures, and in addition watching out for operational expenses and to keep looking for approaches to minimize them.

Imagination is crucial for the business. By what means will the business keep on enhancing with anticipated buyer patterns and changes to nature, innovation and that’s just the beginning? Apple is one of the idea pioneers regarding the matter of development through outline. It’s this ground breaking that will permit the business to develop into a brand pioneer.

Build up the business’ novel worth suggestion.

The business needs to keep showing quality in its industry and to its purchaser market. What is it about the business that makes it a pioneer? The business ought to look to enhance its quality through accreditations, perceived industry affiliations, grants, testimonials and customer portfolios, to give some examples. The more the business enhances its apparent worth, the more open doors will emerge for the business to work with higher profile customers and for new business to go ahead autopilot.

Entrepreneurs and supervisors need to make a move in terms of satisfying the business technique. This must be accomplished by having an unmistakable heading and activity arrangement for the business. In the event that the work force inside of the association can take in the obliged activities as has been demonstrated by other effective organizations, they will make an in number open door for their business to well over the long haul.