EE Techy Tea Parties

Engaging Customers on Sustainability Award, Finalist 2015, Reaccredited 2016

EE’s Techy Tea Parties have helped thousands of people improve their digital skills across the UK, reducing isolation, improving access to information and engaging EE’s retail staff.

Social impacts

  • Reduced participants' isolation and exclusion by helping people keep in contact with friends and family.
  • Improved participants' access to services such as utilities and government services.
  • Helped people use the internet to search and apply for jobs online.

Business impacts

  • Generated EE’s highest ever positive social media response, with over 1,600 mentions and 9.9m impressions.
  • PR activities generated media value of more than £711,000 with 250 coverage hits.
  • Resulted in a massive turnaround in retail staff engagement and increased volunteering uptake from 500 to 3,000 employees

EE logoSix million people in the UK have never been online and ten million lack basic digital skills, the majority whom are aged over 65. This means they are unable to do things like sending an email, or access services delivered online, as is increasingly the case.

Technical help delivered with tea and a biccie.

To address this, in September 2014, EE launched its Techy Tea Parties. Staff were on hand to build people’s confidence with everything from using tablets and social media to keeping in touch through Skype – all with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

To engage with customers, EE used its own channels, such as customer emails, texts and retail point of sale, reaching over one million people. They also used social media to target people with good digital skills, such as existing 4G customers, who might know a relative or neighbour who was digitally excluded.

A large proportion of the elderly target audience still use traditional print media, so EE used PR and a partnership with the Mirror Group to reach them. Working in partnership with Age UK, EE also gained access to June Whitfield as a spokesperson, who was able to engage the target audience in a way its own brand couldn’t.

Taking people online for the first time

In 2014 the company’s Digital Champions helped nearly 6,000 people do something online for the first time, 5,000 of whom were helped over just one day as part of EE’s National Techy Tea Party Day. Nine out of ten of those attendees said they learned more about technology and the internet, motivating them to use technology as part of their daily life.

Using ten stores which took part in the National Techy Tea Party Day as a sample, EE estimates that out of the 5,000 people who attended more than 1,000 people set up their first email account, 400 made their first Skype call and 1,200 went online for the first time.

This helped people feel less isolated, access information, save money and improve their job opportunities. It also engaged EE’s retail staff and increased employee volunteering. Staff learned to support and educate customers rather than just sell, helping them become more service-orientated. It also led many head office employees to interact with customers for the first time and understand what it’s like “out in the stores”.

What EE's CEO said:

“Ten million people in the UK lack basic online skills and it’s an important issue. EE has the UK’s leading network and a committed workforce with digital knowledge and know how. At a Techy Tea Party, we can bring these two elements together, focusing around the single aim of improving the digital skills of thousands of people.

“I’ve participated in a number of Techy Tea Parties and seen first-hand the difference they can make to people. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, and it’s something all our workforce can benefit from. It’s also a leading example of how we can deliver against our ambition to be number one for service in our sector.” - Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE

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