Lockdown Economy UK in Business Transformation Agency with Remeny Armitage
The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Megan Cansfield
Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.
In this interview, we meet Remeny Armitage, the co-founder of Brilliant and Human, a business transformation organisation based in the UK. Remeny talked about the challenges both herself and her clients faced when their customer base began to dip at the start of the pandemic. In order to stimulate Brilliant and Human, Remeny found that connecting with clients on a human level rather than pushing for sales was instrumental in gaining the trust of existing and future customers. By focusing on obtaining authentic connections, Remeny and her team have been able to continue their work throughout the lockdown period. With Brilliant and Human, Remeny has been tackling the challenges of the pandemic by finding new platforms for connecting with potential clients, offering business advisory services to help them through the pandemic.
Tell us more about what you do as a business at Brilliant and Human.
Remeny: At Brilliant and Human, we basically help businesses become more brilliant by being more human. My part of the business is all about client advocacy, so I work with businesses to turn their clients into advocates, being very proactive with their engagement and their clients. The other part of the business is about the internal side of the business, and looking at how to engage with teams better and making sure they’re more effective and working to the best that they can. The third element is the tech that supports that.
Where are you based?
Remeny: I am based in Chesham, in Buckinghamshire in the UK. I work from home mainly; my business partners work from other parts of the UK.
Are you quite global in your outreach? What’s your client base like?
Remeny: Most of it’s UK-based. I do have some clients who have a global outreach themselves, and I’ve got one client based in the US, but it’s mainly the UK.
What about the number of clients that you usually have at one time? How many people are you usually working with?
Remeny: Between us, we’re probably working with about ten different clients at once, but it depends on the size of the project, on what we can take on, and we go from there.
So it varies. Tell me more about what happened to you and to Brilliant and Human when the lockdown hit, back in March or February when suddenly we were plunged into this pandemic. What did you have to do to try to stimulate your business, or what did you have to do to help your clients through this period?
Remeny: Like many people, a number of our clients said, “Let’s put a stop to this work; we need to put a hold on work.” So we did — we did have to stop a few client projects, which was frustrating. It was a matter of working out how to help our clients better, which is kind of what we do overall within our business.
When I was speaking to my clients and my contacts it was about going out and meeting people more, and for me to understand what the challenges with my clients were. We were in similar positions, i.e., losing clients.
It’s all about how to grow and nurture clients and understand their challenges. When I work with my clients, typically I interview my clients’ clients or customers and find out what’s working and what’s not, and get lots of feedback and insight into how the business can improve. But with the lockdown and COVID, it was much more about understanding what my clients’ challenges were and what their clients’ challenges were so that I could then help them meet the needs of their clients so that they could service their clients better.
That’s probably the very roundabout way of explaining that it wasn’t so much about feedback, but it was about understanding clients’ challenges more so that you can serve people better.
Within that, did you see any common themes that were coming up from your clients, things that they were having problems with during the lockdown? And what was your key piece of advice you were telling?
Remeny: I think at the beginning, the majority of people were just panicking. What I was advising my clients to do was that, while you might be losing clients, stop thinking about your business and think about your clients’ businesses more. And actually, reach out to your clients, but be as human as you can. It’s not a time for selling; It’s about engaging with your clients in a much more real way, actually seeing how they are on a personal level because it’s all about people.
Rather than panicking, thinking ‘We’ve got to get more work,’ no — at the moment, yes, you do, but at the same time it’s about understanding the importance that we’re all people, we’re all in this together. We need to work together, we need to collaborate better, and we need to talk to each other more. And just help each other more, and see how you can help.
And be as flexible as possible with your work, with your clients. Some clients might need help, but they couldn’t afford it because they’re losing clients. See what you can do to actually work with your clients better so that you can meet everyone’s needs better.
Yes, I think that’s really important: the human side of the pandemic. Making sure you’re connecting with people on a personal level is very important at this time when we can’t actually see each other face to face so much.
So that’s what you found worked for you and your clients. But was there anything that you may be tried to implement, either in your own business or in your clients’ services, that didn’t work so well?
Remeny: Not particularly, because for me it’s all about engaging with clients, talking to people, being nice, and just finding ways of engaging. I suppose the only thing I would say is, don’t try and sell, especially at the moment. And also, for the work that I was doing, it’s not about just getting feedback, it’s about understanding those challenges. It’s not self-serving, it’s about serving others better, and understanding how you can help people better.
That’s great advice. What about your business now? In the current climate we are in between lockdowns, let’s say, maybe some restrictions are being loosened slightly. So how is your business going right now?
Remeny: Pretty good. It’s interesting that what I do is not something that people necessarily recognize that they need, that that whole process is to engage better with your clients and nurture those relationships, although obviously, it’s obvious to me. So a lot of what I’m doing is an education piece: it’s getting people aware of the fact that you should be talking to your clients and putting those processes in place. When I talk to people, I’m an impartial person. I’m like a marriage counsellor for businesses.
I’ve got lots of interesting things in the pipeline. It’s just a matter of getting people to know and recognize that they should be doing it, what they could be doing. I’ve got some interesting opportunities with partners and partnerships, so it’s busy, lots going on. It’s good. And I think people are recognizing more and more the importance of nurturing relationships and actually speaking to clients, rather than going for new business. So it’s hopefully good opportunities ahead.
Great. And I wonder, just for anyone who is watching this video who is also struggling with spreading the message of what they do and making people realize how much they need their service: do you have any tips or advice on what platforms you have found most successful in spreading your message?
Remeny: I think LinkedIn. I find LinkedIn the best one for getting my message out there. Writing content that’s valuable, but equally, I think the biggest change for me on the writing front has been being more human and actually writing from the heart rather than writing things that are necessarily very professional. It’s about writing things that are interesting people want to read, and then obviously with a theme of what I do. But ultimately, it’s trying to have things that are engaging for people where actually they take something away and it’s helpful. It’s about showing your personality. So, LinkedIn and Zoom I’d say are the two biggest platforms that have worked probably best for me.
You’ve given us some great insights into how you and your clients have dealt with the pandemic: you’re communicating more, making sure you get back to the human side of things. But as always with any business, there are things that we need help with. So, if you could name some things that you and your team need help with in this current climate, what would they be?
Remeny: More time! I think I’d say the juggle of work and client work and marketing and getting that message out there. So it’s kind of a combination of needing more hours in the day with juggling family life. At least I don’t have to do homeschooling anymore, that’s a relief. So it’s that, it’s basically time and getting that message across, and actually dedicating time to innovating, changing things, developing things and marketing one’s message. It’s much easier doing client work than it is doing your own work. That’s probably the biggest knot in there. Not sure anyone can really help with time!
It would be nice if they could! I think that’s something that everybody can relate with. Many small business owners, they just need a few more hours in the day to fit everything in.
Thank you very much Remeny for your valuable insights today. I’m sure anybody watching has really learned a lot about your market and also the ways that you’ve been implementing these changes with your clients. Do you have any final words for anybody watching?
Remeny: Thank you very much. I think the one thing I would give as a quick final tip is, with all the interviews I do for my clients’ clients, the three things that come out again and again — if every business can do this with their clients — are being intentional with your proactivity, your communication, and your processes, and improving those all the way through your business and how you engage with your clients. Then you can only improve. So that would be my final tip of the day.
About the Guest
Remeny has over 20 years’ experience working for a variety of businesses helping them with their client relationships, business development and marketing. Brilliant and Human works with people and businesses who question traditional growth measures; who want to bring humanity back into the world of work. We believe in a better way of working. We provide human-centric, practical support to build strong relationships with your customers, teams and technology to ensure a happy, healthy business.