Biscuiteers on the importance of staying connected

After moving to a new head office, baking company Biscuiteers started using Workplace from Facebook as a way to keep staff connected. Despite being physically present in the same space - with manufacturing staff, icers and all the office employees present under one roof -  the difference in roles meant teams felt separated.

 “It is culturally quite difficult to integrate what is a manufacturing business, with office staff who are digital marketeers and eCommerce people. But it is really important as it’s part of the shared purpose in the business,”  founder Harriet Hastings tells Essential Retail.

One issue was a lot of the manufacturing side of the business weren’t on computers, but the Workplace tool offered a way for all 150 staff to stay in touch via their phones. “As lockdown happened it became even more extreme. Our online business stayed open throughout but the office staff weren’t here.”

It enabled everyone in the business to see the kind of reactions their products were getting from customers, as well sharing workflow tools, information on job vacancies and a customer suggestion area, where anyone can post feedback. 

Now restrictions have eased, it has also ensured its two shops are less isolated from the main business, as they can share stories of what’s going on. “It’s brought the shops front of mind for the rest of the staff and the shops realises everyone is interested in what they are doing.”

And with staff returning to its head quarters - around 50% of each team in at one time - it has also helped teams stay connected and get work done. The tool’s chat function has replaced its use of Slack in helping them stay in touch socially.

New connections

But it’s not just internal communications that have been vital to the business during lockdown, the company has been actively reaching out to customers in new ways, too.  In that period Biscuiteers saw “an amazing uplift” in new customers.

Hastings says that is partly because its message is about “spreading a bit of happiness and thoughtfulness” - something that obviously resonated with people during those difficult months.  And that growth in letterbox gifting and sending items ‘just because’ is a trend that has stayed, she explains.

One key way of staying in touch has been through social media. That was especially true during lockdown, when it launched an “ice-olation” challenge, teaching people how to bake and ice using online tutorials. “It’s very important for businesses - more so now - to have some generosity at the heart of the brand. In our case, we recognised there was this massive interest in baking,” she says. 

Co-ordinating that remotely was challenging, as the company’s social media editor and head designer were working from home. “We were sending stuff round to her house, she was running icing classes filmed by her boyfriend in her house -  and sending that back to be edited.”

The campaign proved so successful it has kept going, now renamed ‘icing club.’ “It’s been a really amazing way for us to engage with our customers.”