Monthly Archives: May 2008

Beating the Cost Crunch

We’ve all been through it and know how it goes…

Welcome to British Tap.  Please listen carefully as the following options have changed,

Subtext: You’ve not called us before so you wouldn’t know that and it makes no difference to you, and all we are doing is wasting your time whilst the call routing system finds somebody who might be able to answer your call

Please note that calls may be recorded for training and quality purposes

Subtext: Because we really don’t trust our agents or our customers for that matter and we need to be able to go back and find out what you said and then tell you that you were wrong and that you didn’t say what you know you said.

Please select from the following options.
Please dial 1 to buy a new widget, please dial 2 if you would like u
s to  try and cross-sell you some insurance for the widget you bought from us last week, Please dial 3 to report a fault with your widget

Your call is being held in a queue and will be answered shortly.
Our agents are busy answering other customers calls

Subtext: The people in front of you who are more important than you and were given a better phone number to call.

Your call is being held in a queue and will be answered shortly.
We value your call.and would love to answer it as soon as we can

Subtext: but we have not  staffed our call centre properly and things are getting a bit out of hand because we are operating on the cheap.

Your call is being held in a queue and (click)


कॉल करने के लिए धन्यवाद British Tap . मेरा नाम Nigel है . मैं आज की मदद से आप कैसे हो सकता है ?

Eh? Oh? My boiler is leaking.


Sorry, what did you say?



Yes, of course, that old cost-cutting gambit of the offshore call-centre.

Indeed, whilst the overseas call centre pendulum has been swinging back  on-shore in the last year or so, now with cost crunch following credit crunch we can expect that trend to reverse somewhat.

Call centres and the customer experience that go with it are not the only things to get crunched when belts are tightened, discretionary project spending is one of the first things to be reduced,with projects either being deferred or cancelled.  Whilst this is a very hand tap to close, by turning off spending on projects willy-nilly, as snuffing boring, run-of-the-mill sustaining projects, genuinely innovative activities also usually get the chop.

Conceptually, the unfettered application of cost-cutting measures looks something like this…


… with good stuff getting damaged at the same time as cutting off all the bad, spendthrift behaviours.

In particular, undiscriminating simplistic cost-cutting can be quite short-sighted and have unforeseen effects down the line.  Indeed,  this process of cost-cutting can accelerate an overall competitive cycle of pain…


…where declining profitability is met by efforts to increase efficiency through cutting costs, implementing new technology or whatever, which drives greater competition, which leads, to, oh dear, declining profitability, ad absurdum.  “The Banking Revolution: Salvation or Slaughter?”>

However, innovation is one of to primary decelerators of this cycle


So the conundrum is how to go about reducing costs without killing the good stuff, thus…


…to take out cost and building competitive advantage through innovation and better customer experience.

The solution generally lies in being more analytical about the cost-cutting process rather than simple “slash and burn”, such as:

  • Careful prioritisation of projects, for example, choosing to favour of genuine innovation efforts over the projects that just sustain the existing business;
  • Taking a system-level view, e.g, over the customer life cycle, and using joined up thinking to ensure that simplistic, functional cost-cutting does not cut across and destroy customer experience, or in the IT software development arena, taking the whole productivity equation into account (rather than focusing solely on daily rates)
  • Keeping a focus on profitability, rather than just the bottom-line, so that the overall financial health of the enterprise is improved

Meanwhile, back to the phone…


Благодарим ви за свикване на British Tap бойлер гореща линия. Казвам се Tony. Как мога да ви помогне да днес?

Oh, !$R£W”Q^%$£&^%$£&%$£”%^)*&%)(*^%$%^£!!!!

From Zip to Tikka

I have previously talked about the use of my observational superpowers to analyse the geo-cultural variations in traffic lights.  Indeed, with many years experience of driving I would like to regard myself as a sort of professional Gentleman Amateur in the general sphere of traffic management.

You know the sort of thing: new developments are appraised with a cynical eye and a firm grip on the steering wheel,  each new disaster greeted with a reproving glare, a sigh and shake of the head, the all too rare  improvements grudgingly admired, and gone in a flash as you pass down the road (at the prevailing speed limit, naturally).

And so, In my many miles of driving, with sometimes too much time on my hands, I am moved to muse on the solutions to many apparently intractable problems – one such topic  being that of the strange behaviour of  drivers when they reach a sign like this:


For many people, this is a command to form a single orderly queue about 5 miles out from the offending road works, and then fume/gesticulate/weave violently as a small number of other drivers (possibly acolytes of the Bavarian blue and white propeller) exercise a modicum of common sense to save a few minutes by driving up to the lanes towards the red blocks, and try to ‘merge in turn’, gasp, horror, don’t frighten the horses!

(There are yet other people that think this is a sign for a picnic area at the beach with cheap red plastic tables under  palm trees, but we’ll leave tham for another day).

The ‘zip merge’ is a respected means in other countries to speed the traffic through the taper where the road narrows,  as you can see from the diagram from New Zealand…


..yet it was allegedly considered sufficiently un-British to be excluded from the Highway Code until it finally made it in 2007.

Of course,  pondering on how best to solve this problem of irrational bahaviour, I came up with what seemed like a useful solution to level the playing field at the Taper’s End.  I won’t bore you with the details because I discovered the much more bizarre and entertaining fact when researching this topic:  there are web-sites out there where such matters are discussed amongst consenting adults.

You’ll find them if you look at places like Pistonheads, DigitalSpy, UK Roads Portal (Society of All British Road Enthusiasts) , Pathetic Motorways – I do have to admit a sneaking affection for this latter site, as it does nicely demonstrate some of the more farcical antics of road planners.

Side bar…

What did the users of these sites do before the Internet?  Hang around the Transport section at WH Smiths or the local Public Library?  Publish grubby Roneo’d  newsletters and  round robins? Hold earnest discussion groups on a Thursday night in the “snug” at the local pub?  Flock with cameras to major road openings?  Wow, what a life!

So having  having discovered that my great idea was not especially original, I have now moved on to a new problem to solve:  the near extinction of  the Chicken Tikka sandwich on the roads of Britain. Thanks to, I found a picture, but at Ginsters, nary a one!


The truth must be told – why has Britain fallen out of love with the Chicken Tikka sandwich?