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Leading online electrical retailer AO.com puts customers first with Interact

logo - ao.com
  • Employees
    1,000-10,000 Employees
  • Vertical
    Retail, Leisure & Entertainment
  • Locations
    Europe

About

AO.com (formerly Appliances Online) is an online retailer specializing in electrical goods. Headquartered in Bolton, Greater Manchester, the company now occupies 50,000sq ft. offices and has 2,500 employees spread across multiple administrative and fulfilment sites in the UK and Germany. https://ao.com

Challenges

After a period of rapid growth from a small company to a multinational organization, AO.com emphasized the need to stay above the competition by providing a consistently excellent customer experience. However, their geographically dispersed workforce and poor content structure made it difficult to ensure that every employee had the information they needed to put customers first. AO.com deployed Interact's intranet technology to improve internal communications and promote their customer-centric culture. Their distributed teams now have a single point of access to colleagues, company news, and inspirational examples of customer care, while support is now shared among teams.

Key Benefits

  • Bringing distributed teams together with 85% adoption
  • Collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and search functionality delivers better and faster support for customers
  • Increased focus on both the employee and customer experience
  • Easy to share and engaging content promotes commitment to customer service excellence
  • Reduced admin time increases productivity and focus on customers

AO.com has deployed a new intranet based on Interact technology to promote its customer-focused company culture across a geographically distributed workforce

The online retail market is saturated with long-established brands and disruptive new market entrants, and competition is fierce for every sale. To succeed in this environment, organizations need to provide a consistently excellent customer experience – a strategy that has helped online electrical retailer AO.com grow rapidly from a small company four years ago, to a multinational organization with more than 2,500 employees.

We’ve very quickly reached the point where the vast majority of our staff visit the site regularly. It’s an intranet that people want to use, and I think most people would be lost without it now. Interact’s great features and our engaging content have been a winning recipe for fast adoption.

Laura Talbot – Communications Manager, AO.com

Laura Talbot, Internal Communications Manager at AO.com, says. “As an online retailer, we don’t do or make anything unique. The difference is in how we do things and our entire business and brand is built on amazing customer experiences and making our customers happy. We compete by caring more than our competitors. We even have a smile in our logo, which says it all.”

The challenge for AO.com is to instill the company’s caring, customer-centric culture in every employee, wherever they work. “We’ve grown incredibly fast in the last four years, and we now have 2,500 employees spread across multiple administrative and fulfillment sites in the UK and Germany,” says Laura. “The question is, how can we ensure that every employee puts customers first, all of the time?”

To stay focused on customer service excellence, and to promote a fun, rewarding work culture, AO.com has deployed a new intranet built on Interact technology.

Putting customers first, always

With Interact, AO.com can provide a range of engaging content that promotes the company’s commitment to customer service excellence.

“There are tons of examples of how we use The Fridge to promote a culture of customer care and support,” says Laura. “If someone goes beyond the call of duty to help a customer, we pick up the story and publish it on the site, inspiring others to do the same. We also share and promote best practices and new ideas that improve the customer experience, which means we are always doing things better for our customers.”

Engaged employees, happy customers

AO.com understands that engaged employees deliver the best customer experiences. Using their intranet, the company brings employees together across distributed locations, focusing on the fun and social aspects of work, as well as the company’s customer-centric values.

“We have regular features on The Fridge every day to engage people and to promote social interactions between colleagues and teams,” says Laura. “These include everything from fun GIFs to competitions to win tickets to Britain’s Got Talent, which we proudly sponsor.”

By boosting engagement in this way, Interact helps to make AO.com a great, fun place to work. “Engaging people is critical to our success long term, and Interact plays a big part in that,” says Laura. “Happy, engaged employees deliver great customer experiences, and that’s what our business is all about.”

AO Interact intranet

Increased focus on customer support

Distributed teams across AO.com use tools within Interact to find the people and information they need faster. Spending less time on admin means they can work productively and deliver even better experiences and support for customers.

“With Interact, we can find people and information quickly and respond to customer queries faster,” says Laura. “There are also tools such as online HR forms that save on admin time so we can focus on what really matters: delivering a consistently excellent experience for every one of our customers and supporting them through their journey with us.”

Bringing distributed teams together with 85% adoption

Of the employee population that is able to access The Fridge, 85% regularly visit the site to access company news and collaborate with colleagues.

We’ve very quickly reached the point where the vast majority of our staff visit the site regularly. It’s an intranet that people want to use, and I think most people would be lost without it now. Interact’s great features and our engaging content have been a winning recipe for fast adoption.

Laura Talbot – Communications Manager, AO.com

Simpler content management

With Interact, non-technical staff can upload and manage content on the intranet, which is a major benefit for the AO.com internal communications team.

“Interact has a number of widgets that can be used to pull different types of content from the within the site onto the homepage. Because we’re able to drag and drop and resize these elements, we can upload and manage content on the site with no support from the tech team. This means we can make updates quickly and keep support costs down.”

Great support from Interact

AO.com received initial support and training from Interact, ensuring a smooth deployment and a successful launch.

“The initial training was great and I also attend Interact events regularly, which is incredibly worthwhile,” says Laura. “There are lots of opportunities to connect with other people in our industry and to find out how they are using their intranets to support their company culture and values, which has helped us to improve our own intranet over time.”

The global Interact community has also been an extremely valuable resource for Laura and her team. “We can ask questions about how to do something in Interact and someone in the community is always able to help or offer good advice,” she says. “With Interact, we’re never alone and we can get a consensus on the best way to do things, which saves a lot of time.”

Making The Fridge even better

AO.com has ambitious plans to make The Fridge even better based on a new content taxonomy.

“We’ve been publishing around three articles a day to The Fridge for the last three years, which means that a lot of content has built up with no real consideration of where it sits,” says Laura. “With the help of Interact’s expert services team, we’re planning to implement a new content structure to make the site much easier to use.”

In addition to the new content structure, AO.com is planning to use more Interact features to help its people live the company’s customer-centric values.

“We want to use more team sites, more forums and other Interact social tools to keep customers top of mind,” says Laura. “We’re only scratching the surface in terms of what Interact can do and we’re looking forward to taking the intranet to the next level to support our customers and our business goals.”

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