Power to the people

Exploring the power of engaged colleagues, human interaction and technology to delight customers


Treat your colleagues like customers and complement technology with human interaction to create moments of delight. That’s key to harnessing people’s potential as brilliant brand builders, according to our latest Linney insight event.

The Quarry: Power to the People, held this week at Linney Create, explored the power of internal communications to engage employees to deliver the very best ‘front of house’ experience for customers.

The event welcomed brands we’re working with across Linney to hear from guest speakers in the worlds of retail communications and innovation. Our own insight team also rounded up broader trends in engagement.

Opening the session, Linney Create’s Katie Oliver described how all industries can learn from the hospitality sector, where figures like First Dates star and hospitality guru, Fred Sirieix, treat service as a religion – everywhere and for everyone.



“Employees are also customers 128 hours of the week,” she said. “They need to be treated as such, and that should carry through into other sectors beyond hospitality.

“Great engagement starts with great leadership,” Katie added, “bringing customers to table, visibly championing their experience at every touchpoint, and setting the example for others to follow.”


Engaging customers through colleagues

Hannah Shepherd, Head of Internal Communications at Virgin Media, gave a first-hand account of how staff attitudes are contagious to the customer, especially when senior figures lead the way.



She outlined her own journey from working in one of the brand’s stores to communicating with all of them.

Hannah’s current role involves celebrating and engaging colleagues and customers equally. And she said her front line experience had been invaluable.

“When I got into communications team meetings I realised I had the missing ingredient they didn’t have – the shop floor experience.

“So when they were talking about new products or offers and changes to systems I was able to say ‘guys, that won’t work because…’ and offer alternatives.”

With that perspective, she’s been able to drive much more video content into store communications. They now include a fun monthly TV show that makes store staff the stars and head office figures human and approachable while sharing sales and strategy updates.

It’s a two-way relationship too, with store teams able to get creative and share inventive ‘best practice’ films with the whole store network via an online portal.

These techniques, she said, have directly translated into improvements in key measures customers said were important to them, like staff knowledge on the product offering.


Driving moments of delight

Julian Watson, Principal Consultant at Sketch Insight, described how combining those engaged colleagues with technology can create moments of delight.



Speaking to Linney on Facebook Live, he said: “Those are moments when an experience surpasses expectations and leaves you with a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling about the brand.

“In the current retail environment you blend tactile, emotional people moments with seamless technology moments that make our lives smoother, easier and offer better value for money.”

Julian described three ‘buckets’ of ‘delightful’ interactions.

“There’s combining people with data – arming your staff with smart data that enables them to deliver a more personalised experience.” Among those doing it well, he said, was online men’s styling brand The Chapar.

“Combining people with hardware involves kit in the retail space that enhances the experience. But it can be daunting for customers, so you need trained, skilled people to ease the potential stress.”



The third bucket, he explained, is a total omnichannel experience – something he believes UK brand Oasis is getting right.

“It blends the experience across its app, website and store estate. And customer assistants in-store are armed with a tablet to handle purchases, check or locate stock, and send items direct to customers’ homes if needed – holding onto that conversion.”


Voice of tomorrow’s colleagues – and customers

The final session of the day welcomed a panel of six teenagers from nearby Vision West Notts College for an insight into the world of an audience often deemed tough to engage by marketers.



They were quizzed by the audience on their attitudes towards brands – those they like and dislike, and how they interact with them – along with their hopes and fears about entering the world of work during the age of automation.

We’ll have more on the themes they raised in a future update. And you can hear from three of the panel by watching our Facebook Live interview with them.



Fancy joining us at a future edition of The Quarry?

Or maybe one of our monthly Coffee insight forums.

Email events@linney.com to let us know.