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Ash Ali has been shortlisted for the UK’ Largest Diversity Awards

Ash Ali from North London has been shortlisted for the Entrepreneur of Excellence at the National Diversity Awards 2016.

Charities and Role Models from across the UK will gather at the breathtaking Anglican Cathedral on September 16th 2016 for The National Diversity Awards.

The Best of British Diversity will travel to Liverpool to celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have demonstrated their devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

Over 20,000 nominations and votes were received this year, paying tribute to grass root communities nationwide.

Ash was the first Marketing Director at JUST EAT, which recently IPO’ed for £1.5 billion, one of most successful Tech IPO’s in London. He sold his first award winning ecommerce business at the age of 19, which he set up from his parent’s attic! Since then, Ash has worked with numerous startups and listed in the top 100 Asian Stars in Tech and co-founded Fare Exchange.

Ash started from a humble inner city background in Birmingham; he left full time education at 18 and is now an exemplary role model to young aspiring entrepreneurs.

The prestigious black tie event is definitely one to mark down on your calendar and provides recognition for excellence regardless of race, faith, religion, gender, identity, sexual orientation, age, disability and culture.

Microsoft will be just one of the brands supporting the awards alongside Adidas, Direct Line Group, ThoughtWorks, Financial Ombudsman Service, Kier, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, PwC, Transport for London, ITV and The Open University.

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s are supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Adam Hills and Sir Lenny Henry amongst many.

British Diver & Television Presenter Tom Daley also applauded the awards stating, “The National Diversity Awards is a celebration of the fantastic work within Diversity, Equality & Inclusion by all positive role models. I would like to wish all the shortlisted nominees the very best of luck at this year’s National Diversity Awards.”

Paul Sesay, Founder of The National Diversity Awards & The BEAM Awards said “The quality of nominations exceeds my expectations every year. This year was no exception with a host of inspirational role models and community organisations nominated across the country. Those shortlisted should be extremely proud, you truly are all winners and I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck.”

To view a full list of nominees please visit www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/shortlist

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More customers make minicab bookings by phone

Smartphones, it seems are not as smart as our customers. Apps designed to make it easier for customers to hail taxis are being sidelined by users to instead, once again pick up their phone and make the call for themselves. So, how can you make sure your taxi firm gets more of these precious calls?

Mobile users prefer to make to phone calls

Over 90% of minicabs/taxis are booked over the phone, compared to 10% booked via an App or singular digital service. Where are people finding these essential phone numbers? The answer is probably sitting in your pocket – your mobile phone. Today, 61% of mobile users wish to talk to someone by making a phone call. In the minicab business this means that more people are turning to an internet search and online to get a number for a local minicab firm and, when on the move, customers do this from their smartphone.

Thanks to this, direct calls are now one of the most valuable and growing sources of new business for B2C thanks to the increase of smartphone use across the population. Invoca published an Infographic recently, ‘Grabbing Business By The Calls‘ that stated by 2016 mobile search will drive nearly 70 billion inbound phone calls to businesses. That’s a huge new business area that has been considered a less fruitless and less exciting marketing channel in past years compared to Apps.

Customers still consider a phone call an important part of their buying process as they can talk to a real person, get answers to their questions and accomplish their goal faster. Consumer habits are slow to change, very slow. Digital channels are now providing a new avenue for customers to find and use their trusted purchase method of a direct phone call. So, why else are customers choosing to pick up their phones rather than use automated online booking and Apps?

Still cheaper to book by phone

The answer may be that customers have realised it is actually cheaper for them to find a local minicab firm for themselves rather than rely on swish Apps to do the selected research.

Today you have lots of options to consider when booking a minicab for a simple journey, such as, to an airport. Fare Exchange decided to test which would be the cheapest.

We consulted several App’s and settled on comparing prices for two London app’s Kabbee & Minicabster with the price of a black cab, Addison Lee and then finally a humble phone call to a local minicab firm.

What we found was a massive difference in prices and quotes for the same journey. (This is usually because cab firms inflate app prices and they have to give 10-12% away in commission too).  The quotes in the table below are for the following journey:

Pick up from the same post code in Edgware for one passenger with two bags at 6.45 pm on Sunday (non-holiday) for a single journey to five popular London airports (cheapest quotes used from app listings).

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The results showed that you save money by booking minicab services when compared to Addison Lee & Black cabs – this we already knew. The really interesting results are seen when you compare quotes from the minicab comparison App (Columns App 1/2) versus calling the same minicab directly. Easy savings can be made if you pay by cash and book by phone.

There are lots of benefits to using an App to book a taxi/minicab but now it seems the lowest price is not one of them. The cheapest option for a consumer is to make a 57 second call (the average booking call length based on over 1 million booking calls generated by Fare Exchange) and speak to a real human as well as save money with a verbal confirmation of when your taxi will arrive.

Smartphone penetration is still growing but it seems people are re-discovering how to dial a phone number again. The next challenge is to make sure that customers call your minicab firm instead of your competitors.

To find out more about Fare Exchange and how we can help your minicab firm get  more calls and more bookings just get in touch on, Tel: 0207 183 7809 and let’s talk.

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Your Voice is Sexy Again!

The QWERTY keyboard was invented in 1870 for typewriters and it is still used today, despite the presence of newer and better typing systems. We are all creatures of habit and re-learning or changing behaviours is a hard thing to do! Some forms of technology simply seem to be essential to how we live.

The phone is a perfect example. Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876 and yet its prevalence and importance persist in the modern era through the explosion of mobile phones. Millions of people today still make phone calls to local firms for a multitude of services such as booking their cab journeys and ordering takeaways, even with the knowledge that there are many online ordering platforms and mobile apps as alternatives.

Phone calls are not just surviving, they are on the rise and billions are spent trying to generate them. This is particularly true for small business owners who value tangible results and outcomes.

Invoca, a call tracking platform, received $30 million in VC funding and so too, have several similar start-ups. Understanding call intelligence is a big thing to not just Invoca but many marketers who need to better understand call metrics. It was nicely said on on of their recent blog posts:

As we marketers continue to solve the problem of the smartphone paradox, we can’t lose sight of the fact that smartphones are not simply tiny computers. We have to treat them as devices meant to facilitate connections, not least of which is the ability to hold a conversation in the traditional sense – voice to voice

ResponseTap, another call tracking solution in UK, recently surveyed more than 4000 people in their “Voice is the new milestone” white paper and discovered that more than 61% of us prefer to pick up the phone and call compared to emailing or filling web forms. 70% of people claimed that calling gives them the peace of mind of being able to speak to a friendly operator who can help them quickly.

My startup Fare Exchange helps minicab operators nationwide to grow and has generated millions of booking calls; we’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t, from both generating and tracking calls to understanding how to improve call handling. Conversion optimisation doesn’t just stop at your website – the people who answer your phones and interact with customers have a great impact on your brand and sales. Call volumes will continue to increase and those companies who realise that humans still need to talk and provide a service will need to consider the technological aspects of this massive growth.

The motto ‘it’s good to talk’ is perhaps most relevant to the minicab sector, where 90% of people still use the phone to make a booking. People want a personal connection so that they can be reassured that a minicab will arrive on time and in most cases they will save money by going direct too.

BIA/Kelsey predicts an explosion in commercially-oriented call volume to businesses. Mobile search alone will drive 73 billion calls per year by 2018 and SME’s value phone leads more than any other lead. Even social media giants Twitter and Facebook have been testing direct response ad mechanisms linked to calls.

With thousands of new smartphone activations every month and smartphone penetration at its highest, it seems unlikely that the phone call boom will slow down. Finally it seems we are coming full circle back to talking again!

So no matter what industry or service you provide; phone calls matter, and this is more truer than ever with the smartphone explosion and instant gratification required by many new potential customers.

What are your thoughts – are you getting more phone calls recently? Have you started thinking or are already generating generating more calls for your company?

If you enjoyed this post, click LIKE or SHARE with a friend or connection you know. Also, leave any comments and questions below and I promise to write back with any useful links too. THANK YOU!

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