Famous Five Go Digital

Golden Marzipan Five go Digital

“Well it’s not been one of our better days!” said Peter mournfully. “We haven’t sold half the cakes we bought and those ladies from the WI spent three hours here and had a single cup of tea each.”

“Evict them,” agreed Steve.

“They’re our nicest customers” cried Gill, “they’re exactly why we set up this little café.”

“I’ll give what’s left of the stock to the food bank” whispered Jason, “at least somebody can have some joy today – you miserable lot!”

“The till is wrong again – we seemed to have lost twenty pounds” – Helen added the final insult to injury! “We need to improve!”

Peter opened Battenburg Bakes café two years ago in a flurry of activity and enthusiasm. He had enlisted his colleagues: Steve, Gill, Helen and Jason to help him and together they had built up a loyal clientele, but hardly made any profit. Steve bought the cakes, Gill and Jason were deployed on customer service and Helen took telephone orders from a few of the busy customers who couldn’t be bothered to queue. The shop on the high street was neat and quaint but competition from Costa and Greggs on either side wasn’t helping! So far Peter had kept things simple, insisting that cash was king and that Monzo cards were for Shoreditch types!

Battenburg Bakes by Golden Marzipan 

Digital or Not?

The following morning, Peter arrived with purpose. He gathered Team Battenburg (as he called them) together ten minutes before opening and addressed them sternly. “Thank you for all your efforts but I think it’s time to go digital!”

“What does that even mean?” asked Jason suspiciously. “Are you trying to get rid of us?”

“I know we’re not rich”, said Gill “but we’re the heart of the community and our customers will not like change.”

“Maybe we need some new customers” said Steve, “younger ones as well as our regulars.”

“Is there a way of improving and keeping our existing customers happy?” asked Helen. “I wouldn’t want us to be like Costa. By the way I’ve heard they’re interested in taking us over so maybe we won’t have a choice unless we do something”.

“That’s decided then.” said Peter, “We’re going to transform the business and become digital!”

ICT Infrastructure

One Thursday morning three months later, the team arrived to find a brand new gleaming bright till. Well not a “till” but “an Electronic Point of Sale terminal,” corrected Peter.

“What in holy hell is this?” cried Jason? “can it do my horoscope?”

“This” said Peter patiently, “is our EPOS, our all-singing, all-dancing modern system with handheld wireless card terminals. We can now take card payments, use it for stock control, collect customer contact details.  To add to that, it integrates fully with our accountant’s system. What’s more, it’s easy to use – the salesman told me so!”

User Experience

“Well you said it was easy to use!” laughed Gill, “and you and Steve are the ones who struggle to use it! We should have had some training. It’s not too late.”

“And why are we still giving out written receipts?” piped up Jason. “Actually, the system is easy to use, but we’re still trying to do the old ways of working.”

“Well look on the bright side” chirped Helen “we’ve got some new customers now that we take contactless payments, and they’re even teaching the older customers how to use their smartphones and tablets. The place is buzzing!”

“Sales are up too!” exclaimed Peter “at least according to EPOS!”


“In fact,” continued Peter, “I know the sales by every hour of every day. And I also know which cakes are selling and which are left over – Steve you need to cancel our orders for Eccles cakes and double up on the Battenburgs.”

“Some other interesting facts” continued Peter…

Steve yawned!

“We’re got three and half stars on TripAdvisor, we know the email address of over100 customers and we double our sales every time it rains. Who’d have thought it?”

Customer Experience

By Spring things had improved even more, mainly thanks to Helen who had taken charge and set up what she called Project Five. There had been several team meetings and even something called a focus group with customers. As a result, almost any trace of paper had been eliminated and the team now used tablets for most of the old ways of working including stock ordering, control and waste management. Helen had also set up Facebook and Instagram accounts and introduced a loyalty reward scheme for those prepared to subscribe.

A new service had been introduced which allowed people to order cakes and other snacks for small parties and gatherings. Indeed, the café had been hired out in the evenings by a group of students who had set up a weekly cake tasting event.

Customer Engagement

Despite the additional activity, the new streamlined and integrated processes meant that the team took on any extra tasks with the minimum of effort. Even Steve seemed to enjoy himself.

Helen, however, went from strength to strength. She had bought a camera and posted photographs of delicious cakes on social media with the hashtag #battenburg. The café even trended one evening when mentioned on The Great British Bake Off #BattleofBattenburg

With the help of a customer who was a marketing and communications consultant, Gill created some customer personas to help Peter understand the different types of people who visited the café and how their tastes and choices were slightly different and how we could accommodate the differences to make their visits seem personal and special. How everyone laughed when Sarah Student, Hurry-Up Harriet, Lonely Lydia and Bargain Bernard were first mentioned but the understanding of Battenburg Bakes’ customers grew and grew.

Organisation Change

Six months later and Peter was holding his regular morning meeting. “I have a few announcements” he announces[!] “First of all, I’d like to thank you all for embracing the changes we’ve made in the last year. Our sales up by 50% despite reducing our daytime opening hours. Helen’s job has changed completely and now that we have automated stock ordering Jason is doing that as well. It’s great that we’ve attracted new suppliers and new customers.”

A round of applause spontaneously broke out. Jason, Gill and Helen beamed with pride.

“I have some news too” interrupted Steve “I’m moving on, it’s been lovely but it’s time for me to retire and maybe help Peter out a bit” he said with a cheeky grin! “Yes” said Peter “we’re opening another shop in Townsville. We’re expanding and taking our digital expertise with us!”

“So, you can have your cake and eat it!” exclaimed Gill!

Digital Transformation

Our story is of course just that – a story. We hope you enjoyed it. It is, however based on tried and tested approaches used by many organisations who are responding to the challenges of modern organisations in their quest to transform business due to changing customer expectations and the application of digital technology. Our model is based on nine factors of transformation, all of which are covered in our parable of Battenburg Bakes.


Golden Marzipan

Golden Marzipan Team

We are the GM Group and we help organisations make the right digital change.

GM Group was created by like-minded people who saw the exponential value of a joined-up service. We also recognise that cultural change at every level is the golden thread that runs through successful transformation.

The best customer experience is created from combining five essentials – we call this Golden Marzipan.

We know that housing providers are ready and willing to innovate. We also know that their customer expectations are being driven by consumer brands.

However, we’ve seen that the results tend to fall short because

  • the change is tackled with one-off initiatives by separate departments, instead of an organisation-wide approach.
  • suppliers to the sector don’t deliver the results from the digital solution
  • a lack of expertise, and sometimes commitment at Executive level, means not enough resource is invested and other priorities are a distraction
  • resistance to change – without strong leadership people have returned to the comfort of traditional working practices
  • a lack of focus on the effort and activity to really encourage and support customers and staff to embrace digital services and new working practices – leaving many unaware of the benefits.
  • a fear of failure has impacted ambition, particularly when there has been no ‘burning platform, to accelerate the need for change.

You might be planning a digital change or already up and running – get in touch and see how we can help.

We know you can have your cake and eat it!

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