Is Your Website Functionality Costing You Sales?

website functionality is costing you sales

 

A recent article on the BBC website about website response times got us thinking.

Customers are more demanding these days.

They want a personal shopping experience, interactivity and rich media when they shop online.

The problem is that to create this type of personalisation a lot of scripts, images and integrations with other applications and systems are required, which have an adverse impact on website load times.

OK, we’re not talking minutes here; globally the average load time has gone up by 7% compared to last year (from 4.2 seconds to 4.5 seconds). Granted, that doesn’t sound too horrendous, but even a slight increase like this can have a huge impact on sales.

Half a second could cost you an 11% fall in sales

To illustrate this phenomenon, the article went on to talk about North American online fashion retailer, Nordstrom.

When its website’s response time slowed by half a second, its online sales fell by 11%. When you’re talking about a company with annual sales in the region of £10.6bn that equates to a loss of tens of millions.

Getting the balance right

It’s quite ironic that this problem is being caused by retailers who are trying to give their customers what they want – a more interactive, personalised multimedia online experience.

Many are so concerned that their websites continue to function and remain up and running that they lose sight of loading speeds. In light of Nordstrom’s experience, this ought to be one of the key metrics used when assessing website performance.

The article states that most of us won’t wait longer than 3 seconds for a page to lead before we head off elsewhere.

So there’s your challenge – to balance your rich customer experience with a load time that comes in under 3 seconds.

If you can achieve that, you’ll be on to a winner.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 

MPM IT Is Member of The Month – ISSBA

 

ISSBA member of the month

 

It’s not often we blow our own trumpet, but this month we just had to.

MPM IT has been announced as ISSBA (Ipswich & Suffolk Small Business Association) member of the month. It’s a huge honour for us and as such we’d like to say a few words.

MPM IT is an IT company with a difference. We don’t directly sell. Our company is solely based on customer service. With excellent customer service we have maintained and grown our customer base generally through customer referrals. MPM IT looks after you regardless – and it’s all done in byte sized chunks.

At MPM IT we have always been consistent in what services we offer to our customers, we have always maintained a local area to enable swift responses for support and we only use local trades people when required.

If you’re a sole trader or micro business and operate within a 20 mile radius of the Stowmarket area, we can support you. All work is carried out on your premises at a time and duration to suit you. What could be better than that?

You may think, “I’m not sure I need regular maintenance”, but you’ve had a few IT headaches recently – nothing serious, but enough to make you think.

Although you’re up to your eyeballs, you’re smart enough to know that you have to take care of your company’s IT, so you give MPM IT a call.

After completing their audit, you receive a plain English report outlining things like what hardware you have, how old it is, what software it’s running, whether your licences are up to date and any other IT related issues that may need attention.

At the end of the report is a list of recommendations about how to improve your general IT performance to give you peace of mind. which MPM IT can carry out for you.

What do you do next?

Let’s assume you read it, but don’t action anything. After all, it’s not that urgent, is it?

The problem is a week or two down the line, disaster strikes.

You have a hardware breakdown, or worse the dreaded BSOD (blue screen of death). Or you could experience a software issue that needs fixing ASAP.

It’s a nightmare – you have no working computer, no access to your data, no emails, no internet – you have no business.

However, if you had asked MPM IT to carry out the recommendations listed in their report all of this could have been avoided.

For a very reasonable fee, your business would now be running like clockwork. You would have peace of mind knowing that:

  • Your data is protected and backed up
  • There is a contingency plan in place should a breakdown occur
  • Your machines are looked after and cleaned regularly

It’s this local, high touch service that our clients love and that has been recognised by ISSBA. We just want to take this opportunity to thank all our clients for their continued support.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 

Will Artificial Intelligence Take Over Your Job?

Artificial intelligence

Now there’s a scary thought and not one I’d really considered until reading an article by Karl Flinders in Computer Weekly.

Over the years, as technology has progressed, more and more jobs have been lost. Frequently, these have been full time roles outsourced to either cheaper service providers in far flung areas of the world, or cloud computing reducing the need for businesses to develop their own software.

It would appear that no one is safe. The world seems intent on developing increasingly sophisticated software that enables robots and artificial intelligence (AI) that could threaten many jobs currently undertaken by humans.

If you think this is all pie in the sky and a bit Hollywood, think again.

According to Karl’s article, IPsoft has launched an AI platform fronted by an avatar called Amelia, which can provide services for “technology help desks, contact centres, procurement processing and advise field engineers” to name but a few processes. Then there’s the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ that uses 58cm tall robots in the front office to help customers.

Those sci-fi movies don’t seem so far fetched any more.

A couple of years ago, TechUK said it wanted to raise awareness of “the benefits that automation software can bring to UK business.”

Where will it all end?

If you’re starting to feel a bit vulnerable, here’s something that will not cheer you up. Karl includes this table showing the likelihood that your job will be computerised.

Telemarketers    99%

Accountants and auditors    94%

Retail salespeople    92%

Word processors and typists    8%

Machinests     65%

Commercial pilots    55%

Actors   37%

Firefighters   17%

Chemical engineers    2%

Recreational therapists    0.3%

Time for a change of career?

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 

BT – A Customer’s Case Study of Woe

What follows is a tale of woe from a customer who experienced very poor service from BT. Their internet provider isn’t BT, but needed the telecoms giant to fix their broadband line so they could once again function. It’s told in their own words.

I reported very slow broadband speed to my provider on 26th June 2012.

After being asked various questions and having spoken to four different members of staff in Technical Support, my provider sent out a new router for me to try.

The router was received, but there was no change in broadband speed, so I returned it.

At that point, my provider arranged for BT ( Open Reach ) to call.

BT called and after trying various things, both at home and at the local distribution box, got the download speed up to 4MB/s, although I was told by the engineer it would be about 6 MB/s.

Considering what it had been like, I was more than happy with this.

That was until  towards the end of August when it again became very slow.

I reported it to my provider on 29th August 11.15 am and spoke to Technical Support who said I “ might need a new filter and/ or a new ADSL cable.”  After a few tests, they discovered a “high resistance imbalance on the line “ and advised they would look into this and ring me back. No call

 At 5.30 pm I rang the provider and was told “ someone will definitely ring you back this evening “  They didn’t !

On 30th August I rang my provider at lunchtime, spoke to Technical Support who would get someone to ring me on his return from lunch. No joy

3.40 pm :   Download speed .219 MB/s  

At 3.50 pm I rang the provider again and spoke to Technical Support who said  “ try a corded phone in the broadband socket and ring back.” ( I have  different lines for phone and broadband) I did as requested and spoke to Technical Support again, who said they’d carry out a line check and ring back.

At 5.15 pm I rang the provider and spoke to Technical Support who said they would ask another member of Technical Support, who was aware of the situation, to ring me back.

After hearing nothing, I rang again and spoke to the person concerned (“ hooray” ) who confirmed that there was “definitely something wrong with the BT line. I’ll get date for BT to call and ring you back.”

On Tuesday 4th September at 1.15 pm I rang the provider and spoke to a member of Technical Support informing him that Iwe’d not had a call from BT. He said he would contact BT and ring me back.

After hearing nothing, at 3.40pm we rang the provider again and being unable to get through to Technical Support we spoke to a very pleasant young lady in Customer Service and told her of our difficulty and asked to be put through to the Technical Support manager. We were put on hold for Technical Support  –  –  –   –  No reply !

Rang AGAIN and spoke to another equally pleasant lady on reception who gave me the mobile number of the Technical Support manager – unable to get reply.

At 4.00pm BT called, but they were expecting the fault to be a line fault, not a broadband fault. They had a look anyway.

4.45 pm  Technical Support manager rang and I told him that BT were here at that time.

5th Sept. 9.10 am.  No further forward so rang Technical Support manager and left message.

Broadband download still showing .234 MB/s.

Didn’t hear anything back, so rang provider again at 11.50 am and spoke to Technical Support who arranged a BT  call for the next day.

Thursday 6th Sept. 8.15 am,  BT called and after checking things out said “ There is nothing I can do. Your provider has capped your broadband at .288MB/s.”

9.10 am, put BT on the phone to Technical Support at my provider to sort things out.

9.25 Technical Support manager rang to say that they were in contact with BT and that they had NOT capped the line and that he’ll ring me back to let me know what has been agreed.

3.00pm Technical Support manager rang asking me to remove the front of the BT box and replace with a filter and requested that we leave it like that and BT will call Friday morning.

Friday 7th September, 10.45 am.  BT called and identified a bad broadband signal and said  “ There is a definite fault. “  Following an investigation the engineer was unable to get to the cause of the fault so moved us to a new line. A BT test showed 2.8 MB/s so we were reconnected. I was advised to keep a watch on things over the weekend as an occasional drop out was OK, but frequent drop outs were not.

6.30 pm, little improvement. Rang Technical Support manager who could see the problem and asked me to ring him in the office on Saturday morning.

Saturday 8th September 10.55am. Rang provider ( Technical Support manager) to say we were no further forward and left a message asking for a return call by midday as I had to go out.   No call.

11.45 am. Rang manager again, no reply, so rang and spoke to Technical Support who confirmed that BT were still dealing with the matter and that the Technical Support manager would ring me later in the day.  He didn’t.

Monday 10th September 9.15 am.  Rang Technical Support manager. No reply so left message.

9.20 am rang provider and spoke to, –  yes that’s right, Technical Support who said that BT are still carrying out tests and that the problem appears to be “quite involved. BT are working in the area and the work should be completed by Tues’ 11th Sept’.”

 Tuesday 11th Sept. 1.30pm. Technical Support manager rang to say that they were still progressing this with BT and that we may get another call from BT tomorrow. He will ring later to confirm.

NO CALL.

Friday 14th September, 9.00am BT called. Two men this time! Connected test equipment to phone line but did nothing else.

I asked if they were not aware of the results of the last BT call on the 7th September and was told that “a week is much too soon for our records to be updated.” So I put them in the picture and they said they would arrange for traffic lights in order to check the junction elsewhere in the village.

Having informed me that Triage were dealing with this they left at 9.20 am.

9.30 am. Rang Technical Support manager who said he was on another call and that he would  call me back in a second.

2.20pm. Rang Technical Support manager to say that I have to go out and as BT were not resolving the problem I would take matters further, i.e. inform “Watchdog” and “BBC Look East” on Friday 21st Sept.

3.20pm, Technical Support manager rang to say he is progressing this with BT and that he was in full agreement with my intent to make this silly situation public.

He is hoping to send me a cordless phone type router to try.

Subsequently rang to say that router is on the way.

15th Sept. Router arrived.

Monday 17th September, Router installed.

Tuesday 18th September, rang Technical Support manager and left message to update.

12.05pm. Received call from Technical Support with the following message – “ BT are scheduled to progress this issue on 19th September and although they will be working in the street they would appreciate access to your home.”

Wednesday, 19th September, 4.10pm. Rang Technical Support manager and left message to say  “no call and no improvement.”

Thursday, 20th September 1.15pm. Rang Technical Support manager to ask where we are up to? For some reason he was not aware of the message I left on Wednesday, but he will contact BT and phone me back.

4.20pm, Technical Support manager rang to say that BT had changed time of job from the 19th am to the 20th pm. ( Might have helped if we’d been informed ! )

No call from BT. Did they do anything ?

Broadband speed still .234 MB/s

Friday 21st Sept. 9.00am.  No change.

12.15 pm Rang Technical Support manager and left message.

2.15 pm, Technical Support manager rang and left message to say BT are still progressing and job should be completed by 6.00 pm.

Saturday 22nd Sept. 12.30 pm.  Rang Technical Support manager to update on the fact that there was no change, and left message.

2.30 pm, Technical Support manager rang and left me a message to say that the problem could take up to three months to sort out!

Monday 24th September – 9.30 am. Rang Technical Support manager and left message. At 7.00pm rang again and left another message.

Tuesday, 25th September 9.50 am, rang provider to speak to Technical Support.  

“ We apologise for keeping you waiting. We’ll answer your call just as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience”      WHAT PATIENCE ? !  !

10.00 am. Rang again and spoke to member of Technical Support, then to the Technical Support manager, who asked if I could please send him photos of the BT line into our property.

Sent three photos to him at 10.40 am.

Friday 28th September, 4.10pm.  Rang Technical Support manager as hadn’t heard anything.  Left message.

 Monday 31st September 5.20pm. Rang Technical Support manager who said he is proposing to run a new line into the house to see if things improve.  Will ring me tomorrow to confirm.

No call.

Wednesday 3rd October, 9.15pm sent Technical Support manager an email saying that I hadn’t heard from him and that my neighbours are on 1.6MB/s and asking him what’s happening ?

He replied apologising and saying that they’d had a few ADSL issues their end. However, BT had planned to carry out work on the 21st October, and have applied for three way traffic lights. Also, he has requested a new line to be installed on the 24th October.

 19th October, confirmed with Technical Support manager that BT are still on to check copper fault on the 21st.

“ Yes.”

Sunday 21st October, 8.30am. BT called to repair phone line. ( Hard to believe ! ) But the engineer said he didn’t know anything about broadband. He remade the connection in a terminal box but couldn’t do anything else.

What now ?

 Monday 22nd October,10.15am rang Technical Support manager and left message.

He rang later and I requested a migration code as by now my patience was running on borrowed time.

He agreed that the BT call based on their report was an “ absolute joke”, but that he had arranged for them to install a new line on Thursday. Could I hold off until then ? 

I checked the date with him as previously I’d been told Wednesday, but no, it was definitely going to be Thursday.

 Wednesday 24th October, 10.50 am  BT called to install new line !  Fortunately we were at home and the line was installed.

Since then broadband has been running at download speeds of between 6 and 7 MB/s. An incredible result, but why did it take so long for BT to identify what appears to be a straight forward line fault ?

While it appears that the main problem with my internet provider is a severe staff shortage, ( hence the repeated and incessant “ We apologise for keeping you waiting “ etc’)  the same cannot be said of BT staff who, with very few exceptions, appear to lack communication, lack experience, lack knowledge and lack a general interest in resolving the problem.

I feel that not only should BT Wholesale pay for installing the new line, but that they should provide compensation to my provider and ourselves for wasting a considerable amount of time and for providing what can only be described as “an appalling service.”

Bad service or what?

What has been your experience of your broadband providers? Have you experienced good service or bad?

Leave a comment below and share your experience.

 

Why Social Media Matters to Your Business

Do you really have to use social media within your business?comment

Is it a viable way of promoting your brand?

Can it really raise your profile?

Yes, yes and yes – social media really can do that for your business, and that’s just for starters.

You’ve probably heard it all before, but social media provides you with a genuine connection to your customers. Interacting with them has never been easier; you can get their feedback on  your products and services, give them offers, chat with them and provide solutions to people when they need them most.

Not only that, but should someone have a gripe about your service you can act immediately and change a potentially damaging situation into a PR triumph.

Having a Facebook Business Page will help you communicate with your customers and promote word-of-Facebook (the new word-of-mouth) behaviour. After all, the more people talking about you online the better.

Making powerful connections

But social media isn’t just about enhancing relationships with your customers. What about other businesses?

Platforms such as Twitter have made business owners (big and small) more accessible than ever before. It’s a great way to make new connections and to convince other influencers to talk about your brand.

And of course, then there’s the press.

Did you know that 1 in 5 journalists access Twitter daily as part of their story sourcing? Before you know it, one tweet could get you masses of press coverage – that’s pretty powerful stuff.

All in all, social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools your business has.

If you not there already, now’s the time to get started. Come on, join the social revolution.

Is Customer Service Going to The Dogs?

dogsAs technology develops and, apparently, makes our lives easier, there seems to be a worrying downward trend in the service levels we receive.

Many online retailers seem to be reluctant to make it easy for their customers to get hold of them. Frequently, rather than finding a phone number or postal address, we are faced with anonymous enquiry forms (many of which never generate a response) or merely directed to an FAQ page.

It seems that to speak with a human today, we have to jump through hoops.

One such case in point  was brought to light by an article in PCPro. They reported that Talk Talk customers had, quite rightly, reacted with incredulity over the company’s decision to close its call centre in Waterford because it no longer needed so many support staff.

According to Talk Talk, the loss of 575 jobs came as a result of “call volumes across the whole of our contact centre estate falling by 40% year-on-year”. They also claimed that most of their customers now used web-based support.

In reality, the cuts will result in longer waiting times for support calls to be answered.

In a direct response to the story about the job cuts, one reader commented:

“It took me 35 minutes on hold listening to ‘musak’ when attempting to resolve a broadband issue at a customers’ premises yesterday. The customer used to be with Nildam, who are now Talk Talk. Nildram would answer in 3 rings. Service now…totally shocking!”

The claim that most subscribers now use online contact forms instead of telephone support has also been met with scepticism, with one reader suggesting that:

“Maybe that’s because people don’t want to phone 0845 numbers, which cost too much, only to be held in a seemingly endless queue and then be kept on the phone for 30, 40 or 50 minutes at a time.”

It does seem crazy that in today’s climate, companies are, apparently, cutting back in the areas customers most value – service. After all, what’s the point in signing up to new technological services if you can’t get hold of someone to help you when things go wrong?

Surely, it is far more important to invest in your customer service and be regarded as an outstanding customer-focused company, than cut back and hide behind your website?

If you want your company to stand out in your crowded marketplace, put the needs of your customers and not your shareholders first.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy offers IT services and training to sole traders and small businesses based in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages. They won the ‘Exceptional Customer Services Award 2009’ for Best of Bury St Edmunds.

How to Set Up Skype…

phone call…And enjoy free phone calls to other Skype users

If you’re looking to cut your overheads, what better way than to start using Skype?

You can chat for free to other Skype users anywhere in the world and enjoy reduced cost calls to other users.

Not only that but there are a wealth of other features available for business and private users.

What’s more it’s very easy to set up – all you need is a computer.

How to set up Skype on your computer

First of all head over to the Skype website and click the download button (if you are a Mac user use this link).

Once your download has finished click ‘save file’ to set up your Skype application and follow the onscreen instructions of the set up wizard.

After the installation process is complete just click on your Skype desktop icon and away you go.

Finding contacts

Once you’re all set up you’ll need some contacts – you can search by name, Skype name (if you know it) or email address.

As soon as your contacts have accepted you you can start chatting.

You can even get an app to enjoy Skype on your Android or iPhone.

Why not try it out?

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Think Posture When Using Your Laptop

postureBack in November we featured a blog post which commented on the dangers of laptops.

OK, technically speaking a laptop isn’t actually going to kill you or cause you serious harm intentionally – after all it’s just an inanimate lump of plastic, circuitry and metal. But the post did comment on Adrian Lee’s article in The Daily Express which advised how the increased use of laptops was being blamed for a large rise in neck and back problems because they encourage bad posture.

But all is not lost. You can safely use your laptop without risking life and limb simply by taking reasonable precautions and employing a modicum of common sense.

Think posture

You can use your laptop in blissful safety if you adopt a few good habits. These easy to follow suggestions will ensure you can work at your favourite laptop without running the risk of injury.

  • Always use a separate keyboard and mouse so your laptop can be put on a stand with the screen open at eye level.
  • Make sure your laptop is placed on a stable base which will provide support for your arms.
  • Take regular breaks (including short micro breaks). The movement will prevent the build up of stress on your muscles and joints.
  • Posture is everything. Adopts a good sitting position with lower back support and make sure all your other desk equipment is within reach.
  • Sit right back in your chair with your feet flat on the ground. Also make sure you don’t cross your legs or ankles.
  • Align your keyboard to your body by making sure the B key is in line with your belly button.

By making these simple suggestion good habits, you can prevent (or at least minimise) any aches, pains and discomfort.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Are You Paying Too Much For Your Music?

music

With the growing number of music outlets on our High Streets and online, how can you really be sure you’re not being ripped off when you buy your music?

Whether you download your music fix or prefer to buy it on CD, there are so many retailers vying for your cash it’s tough to be sure you are getting the best deal.

Well, to help you make sure you’re not paying over the odds, I want to draw your attention to the wise words of Stuart Andrews who wrote a great article in PC Pro’s September 2010 edition which looked at the best music download sites.

His review includes comprehensive tests of ten of the UK’s leading online music stores. The review looks at best value for money, compares prices, sound quality and availability of more than 80 albums both old and new from across different stores.

If you’re sitting there thinking “yeah, but I use iTunes so I have to buy my music from there”, think again. Apparently if you use Apple you can still use these files in your music library if placed in the music folder so there are no restrictions on which store you use.

The top two out of the ten tested were Amazon and Tesco with an average top 40 album price of £5.46 and £6.22 respectfully (tests carried out w/c 17 May 2010).

Of course, retailers constantly change their pricing so keeping up with where the cheapest place is can be quite a task. But thankfully there are websites out there that will do all the hard work for you, such as www.tunechecker.com which will tell you where you can retrieve the cheapest download.

So, no more music rip offs – YES!

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

BT Upgrades

BT upgrades There has been a lot in the press recently about broadband speeds and the such like. So what’s going on? Are the telecom giants actually trying to help us out with higher speeds and better connectivity?

Well, one such giant, BT, is in the process of a fibre rollout. But, at the same time, they are also continuing to upgrade exchanges for the slower ADSL2+ services. It has been reported that a further 199 exchanges have been added to its upgrade list which should benefit from up to 20Mbits/sec broadband by Spring 2011.

Hmm, there’s that phrase again ‘up to’ – but that’s another story.

It is hoped that when this latest rollout is complete, three quarters of the UK will be connected to ADSL2+ or fibre broadband lines. Plus they are trialling a ‘priority class of service’ for ADSL2+ business customers which will begin this autumn.

What’s your broadband like where you are? We’d love to hear your experiences and what speeds you’re getting in relation to what you were promised.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.