Brewing a successful venture
Clifton Coffee Roasters in Bristol, England, provides coffee beans to specialty coffee shops in addition to servicing brewing equipment, hosting specialized barista training courses, and offering tasting sessions for customers. However, when COVID-19 initially arrived in the U.K., the pandemic left employees worried about the business’ survival. In the words of Joe Sheppard, Head of Education, “I thought my job was going to completely disappear,” for in-person events played a large part in fostering meaningful customer relationships.
Facing an uncertain future
For Clifton Coffee, the decision to move operations to virtual spaces was not an easy one. Josh Clarke, Director of Coffee, wasn’t the biggest fan of moving online as he actively avoided virtual coffee tastings in the past. He maintained that virtual tastings wouldn't have the same experience as in-person sessions.
However, the pandemic forced the company to think about new approaches and ask, What do we do now? The answer: Microsoft Teams.
Innovating traditional business practices
After onboarding to Teams, initial employee hesitation to virtual tastings subsided when the company ran its first virtual tasting via a Teams meeting. In recounting how successful that tasting was, Clarke highlighted that “we quickly saw that Teams enhanced the experience.” Employees remarked that the live reaction feature impressed them for making them feel more enthusiastic about what they were creating, which made them feel the love in any given meeting.
Thriving amid the pandemic
Aside from the improved virtual tasting experience, Clifton Coffee expanded operations by introducing 67 new coffee products in one year using Teams. This proved to be a major step forward for a company that had introduced 51 the prior year. According to Craig Fellows, a Warehouse Manager at Clifton Coffee, moving to Teams enabled the company to reach 20 to 30 times more customers than in person. This ushered in a new chapter for the business. “We’re now working with more coffee shops than we were before the pandemic” Clarke notes, and “we’re now in 100 new coffee shops around the United Kingdom because of our pivot to Teams for communication.”
How to use Teams like Clifton Coffee
Small business owners can check out the resources below to learn how to make the most out of Teams to support your small business, even with no IT background.
To thrive rather than just survive amid these unprecedented times, we encourage small business owners to get creative with technology like Clifton Coffee Roasters. Hear more about Clifton Coffee’s journey with Teams as a small business, or learn more about what Teams can do for you and your small business.
Other creative ways for small businesses like Clifton Coffee
Here are a few more Teams features a small business like Clifton Coffee can use to adapt to a hybrid world:
- Support relationship building by leveraging Together Mode to help customers and instructors feel like they’re all in the room together during a group activity, such as a coffee tasting.
2. Easily send calendar invites to schedule meetings with new customers via the Teams Calendar.
3. Use breakout rooms to facilitate smaller group experiences and discussions, such as for customers who want to taste a variety of flavors and for instructors who wants to discuss the experience in smaller groups before opening the discussion to the entire tasting group.