How BrewDog Successfully Delivered a Customer-Centric Approach During Uncertain Times

The global pandemic has changed the face of e-commerce and customer journeys. As expectations shifted overnight, customer teams found themselves rapidly re-evaluating their customer care process. BrewDog, the best-selling craft beer brewery in the UK, found itself in this situation. As a long-time Freshworks client, they implemented several different Freshdesk features to enhance their customer-centric approach during 2020 and 21 with the aim of deepening engagement and strengthening their customer relationships.

It’s expected that customer experience will be pivotal to transforming B2C growth moving forward. The Freshworks partnership with BrewDog is a successful example of what CX should look like in 2021. We recently interviewed Emma DeSena, Head of CX at BrewDog, for an inside look at how her team has continued to provide top-level customer service through this period of uncertainty. 

This blog post covers the main points in the video, but you can watch the interview here for a fuller picture.


Why Great CX Is So Important for BrewDog

Great CX should be a priority for any organisation, but it’s always been at the heart of BrewDog’s culture. To understand how the Scottish craft brewery focuses on customer experience to drive sales, we need to go back to its unique origins. Brewdog was launched in 2007 and two years later it became one of the first community-owned companies in the UK. Owners James Watt and Martin Dickie created Equity for Punks, a financing model that gave shareholders discounts and other perks. 

In the beginning, these “Equity Punks” mostly comprised 1,330 friends and community members. In the last decade, the number of shareholders has grown to around 100 times that number (more than 130,000 Equity Punks). In our interview, Emma DeSena explains that these aren’t your average shareholders. Driven by brand loyalty, Equity Punks are Brewdog’s “biggest brand ambassadors.” She continues, “they’re also our biggest critics, which we absolutely love. Any feedback they provide us with is really valuable, thanks to their knowledge of our history, our brand, and our projects.” BrewDog aims to deliver excellent service to these loyal customers with a personalised, customer-centric approach.  


How BrewDog Navigated the Challenges of COVID-19 

Despite BrewDog’s impressive track record with customer care, 2020 was an entirely different beast. Pre-COVID, four customer service agents based in two offices (London and Aberdeen) were in charge of around 150 tickets a day. These small volumes ramped up to 2,000-2,500 tickets a day during the lockdown. Since pubs were closed, more people were buying beer online and had several questions around that process. The customer service team deals with queries and feedback about everything from their products to their bars. They also handle general enquiries about the brand, community and sustainability projects like ‘BrewDog Tomorrow’.

The unexpected nature of the huge peak in activity initially took BrewDog by surprise. It meant they had to scale quickly. Fortunately, Emma’s team wasn’t too fazed as BrewDog staff already work in a very fast-paced environment. They quickly assessed the situation, focusing – as always – on customer experience. In keeping with the canine theme, Emma jokes that they work in “dog years”. Tasks are accelerated, so there’s no time to chase their tails. 

The pandemic prompted brand new ways of working. For instance, BrewDog decided to move to a new 3PL (third-party logistics) just before Black Friday, one of the busiest times for e-commerce. The CX team faced increased support volumes while establishing a new fulfillment centre. They navigated these challenges by implementing new technology and switching to as much automation as possible. Freshdesk’s suite of tools helped eliminate manual tasks and repetition. The team could streamline processes on one platform while supporting customers across multiple channels.


The Importance of Listening to Your Customers

BrewDog’s customer-centric culture is the key to its success. The team’s main goal is to deliver a consistently great service. But how do they know if they’re delivering? They listen to their customers. As a crowdsourced business, they receive a steady stream of feedback from their Equity Punks who have a stake in the company. Equity Punks have been an integral part of BrewDog’s journey from the beginning. You don’t earn such high levels of brand loyalty without listening to your customers.  


How BrewDog Utilises Employee Experience (EX) Software in Remote Working Conditions

Like most of the UK’s office workers, BrewDog’s customer service team moved to remote working during the pandemic. Seamless collaboration between employees became a priority when working on tickets to ensure the visibility of progress. But above all, they wanted to keep the personal connection alive between employees. In the video, Emma tells us, “employee happiness is as important, if not more important than customer satisfaction.” BrewDog used video calls for face-to-face onboarding, training, and buddy systems to support employees. Emma is also working on an internal knowledge base for her team to give new team members “an extra point of reference.”

How Freshdesk transformed BrewDog’s Customer Service Experience

Once they understood the potential for automation, streamlining, and collaboration, they implemented more features. As a result, BrewDog’s CSAT score (a customer satisfaction score CSAT indicates how satisfied a customer is with a product, transaction or interaction with a company) increased by 10% despite 10 times the increase in incoming volumes.

Integrating Social Platforms on FreshDesk to Improve CX Delivery

Before the pandemic, BrewDog’s CX team relied on one channel, email. After using Freshdesk to integrate social and email, BrewDog now analyses trends faster than ever before. These integrations dramatically improved response times and helped to drive down volumes by isolating and resolving the biggest problems first. By rapidly identifying and addressing negative sentiments, social contact decreased by 29% within a month.

Brewdog is about to launch a real-time live chat (Freshchat). CS agents will offer a warm and welcoming place to chat without time constraints or scripts. It’s not BrewDog’s style to be salesy or pushy, so the focus is on agents sharing knowledge with customers in a relaxed and friendly way. 


The Importance of Accurate Insights & Reporting in Enhancing CX

BrewDog considers accurate reporting as the key to delivering the best customer service. During the pandemic, the company experienced a huge shift to B2C. Before the pandemic, the incoming volumes were a blend of queries from stakeholders and retail customers, but now the queries are predominantly from e-commerce customers. 

Emma explains that their reporting style is based on a hybrid approach modeled on Zappos and Amazon. Amazon views no contacts as indicative of good service, whereas Zappos takes a warm, welcoming, and sincere approach that encourages customer contact. So while Brewdog aims to lower the metric number of contacts per order (CPO), they also want to provide a top-tier customer experience to build sales and loyalty: “We definitely want to drive down the contacts per order and have more of a seamless customer journey.”  


How does BrewDog Balance Personalised Customer Service & Automation

These days, its customers are often new to the world of craft beer. They used to drink in pubs but now they need guidance with what to order for home delivery. Although customers expect quick responses to queries, people have more time and some people might just crave some human connection and a personalised chat about BrewDog beer or services. 

Equally, some customers prefer an autonomous approach, so BrewDog’s customer portal is set up with knowledge base articles and frequently asked questions. Not only does this save customers time, but it also cuts down on the workload for the customer service team and helps them focus on more complicated queries. BrewDog aims to treat customers as individuals, meet them on their terms, and solve their problems in a way they prefer.  


How Freshworks Has Supported BrewDog in Making Their CX the Best in the Business 

Emma has no doubt that Freshworks has been a key partner in BrewDog’s CX success. She appreciates Freshworks’ transparency and innovation. Freshworks CX platform provided a full suite of tools (namely Freshdesk, Freshcaller, Freshchat, and Freshsuccess ) matched to BrewDog’s business objectives. These features included bespoke analytics, a fully automated service, customisations, live chat, and team dashboards with an intuitive interface. 

Besides the incredible technology that Freshworks brings to the table, BrewDog appreciates our working style. The two companies share similar values and enjoy an easy business relationship. Emma says, “I absolutely love the Freshworks approach where they see their clients as friends. We have a real, authentic relationship with the Freshworks staff we deal with, and I’ve never doubted that Freshworks genuinely wants the best for our business.” 


Watch the full interview on BrewDog with Freshworks

BrewDog is the perfect example of a company that managed to adapt during a time of crisis. They responded to new challenges by taking a customer-centric approach and being open to new ideas in CX. The UK’s best-selling craft brewery led the way in demonstrating just what can be achieved during uncertain times with the right technology.

Are you interested in how BrewDog delivered a customer-centric service during a global pandemic? Watch the full interview here.


Find Out How FreshWorks Could Transform Your Business CX and EX Too. 

If you’re keen to replicate BrewDog’s success, our product consultant is happy to schedule a one-hour demo session with you. They’ll walk you through a workflow that helps you deliver outstanding CX.

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