Bionic Customer Champion Day - Flat Cap Coffee

By Sarah-Louise James, Feature Writer

Friday 24 January 2020 marked our first Customer Champion Day. “What’s that?” you say.

Let us fill you in! 

In a nutshell: it’s a special day, held every month, to celebrate one of our brilliant customers. You come in, meet the Bionic team, tell us more about your business – and enjoy some nice food and chat. 

The Flat Cap Coffee Roasting Company – husband and wife team, Mark and Alex – who have business utilities and insurance with us, got things off to a brilliant start.

Cups half full...

If you don’t know the story of how former soldier, Mark – discharged from the army with complex PTSD in 2016 – turned his life around to launch a successful artisanal coffee roasting business with Alex, and support from military charity Help for Heroes (H4H) – you can read all about it at Customer Stories - Flat Cap Coffee.c

In the meantime, what can we say? It was brilliant welcoming them and their business mentor Paul, into our offices. 

The Bionic team was buzzing – and not just from Flat Cap’s crowd-pleasing Columbian blend coffee, which was being served all day. 

The buzzy office atmosphere didn’t go unnoticed by Flat Cap, either. “The energy and positivity hits you as soon as you walk through the door,” Mark said. “This is a great environment, you’ve got it nailed.” 

(Thank you, Mark!)

Coffee is served

Of course, we couldn’t get started without coffee. So we set up a Flat Cap pop-up in our breakout area and had an expert barista on hand to whip up lattes, cappuccinos and killer cortados, for the occasion.

Meeting the teams

Suitably caffeinated, Flat Cap got a tour of our offices and met the Bionic gang.

Our digital product team gave Alex and Mark a sneak peak of our new online user journey. One new feature lets you pop in your postcode to discover your energy supplier if you’ve recently moved.

This was a hit with Alex. “This is fab,” she said. “We were new tenants when we started our business, and didn’t know our energy supplier. It was really tricky trying to unpick it all.”

Mark and Alex also caught up with our customer marketing team – giving us their feedback on our new branding – and had a chinwag with our CEO, Paul.

Mark was keen to tell the boss about the refreshing service he got from Bionic when he first got in touch. 

“I spoke to a lovely guy called Rob,” he said. “He was genuine, interested in our background and funny. It was like a breath of fresh air. Before I talked to you I was despondent. Setting up business utilities was totally new for me. All the other companies I spoke to were putting on the hard sell, which was really off-putting. 

“Our experience with Bionic gave us so much confidence that we now get all our business products with you.”

Life is sweet

Happy with the part we’ve played in their business, Mark and Alex are now gearing up to take Flat Cap to the next level. 

The roastery is a hit with locals and visitors. Soft music plays in the background and it’s set up like a cosy coffee shop. Customers can buy their beans then enjoy a chat and a coffee – on Flat Cap. Ross Kemp, who also works with H4H, recently paid the couple a visit.

“We’ve chosen to build up slowly up to this point, as we know it has the potential to move really fast,” Mark said. “We started as a wholesale business, now we’re getting started on the retail side. Perhaps one day we’ll launch our own coffee shop, but that’s in the future.”

Flat Cap are dipping into the chocolate business, too. Over Christmas, they produced a small batch of coffee and chocolate gift boxes. Complete with milk chocolate puddles, hot chocolate stirrers and marshmallow chocolate pots. * Dribble *

“We did a course on chocolate-making two years ago,” explained Alex. “There was a lot of trial and error but we’ve learned loads. And our kids love getting the leftovers.”

Their marshmallows have been a particular hit.

“We tested them on the team at the coffee shop at Tedworth House – (H4H’s recovery centre, who also use Flat Cap beans) – and they were like ‘Right, we need those in our shop!’ So that’s one of the next things on our to-do list.”

Exciting plans are brewing

The pair are bubbling with ideas for the future.

“They are both really clever and creative and 99.9% of their ideas are workable,” laughed business mentor Paul. Paul is an entrepreneur with his own businesses, who also volunteers his time as a Help For Heroes mentor. He’s been on Mark and Alex’s journey from the start and couldn’t seem more proud. 

But it’s not all marshmallows and coffee beans for the duo. 

Taking to the floor to talk to the team and answer questions, Mark told us that Flat Cap’s vision is as much about offering support to veterans as it is watching their amazing coffee empire expand. 

Paying it forward

Both Mark and Alex volunteer as speakers and advisors for H4H, which helped build them up from rock bottom when Mark first left the army. 

“When I was first discharged, my doctor told me I’d never work again. But with the brilliant support of Alex, H4H and Paul, that wasn’t the case and I now go into work every day with a smile on my face. I want other veterans to see that too.

“You see so many people leave the army with mental injuries and they’re broken. They’re told something ‘you’ll never work again’ and they think ‘Okay, this is me’. So they don’t strive,” said Mark.

“People can lose their purpose once they leave the military,” added Paul. “For Mark, there was a massive hole where that 22-year-old lifestyle and family once was. Recreating a new one was the next step.”

“Military life is good at creating and maintaining, but not re-integrating people. You’re kind of cut loose, which is why it’s so important for me and Alex to work with H4H,” Mark said.

“One of the things we’re most passionate about is telling our story and showing people they can get back up. It will be hard work at first but as you can see from our story, with the right training and support, you can thrive.”

To cap it off

We’re feeling really lucky to work this amazing team – and to have heard their inspiring story in person. After their visit, we all went back to our desks with an extra spring in our step, ready to hear more great stories from our brilliant customers.

We’re chuffed to bits that Mark and Alex had a good day, too. “Being here today and meeting the team, means you’re no longer just providing us with a great service,” said Mark. “Now we feel a real connection with you, too.”

Check out Flat Cap on Instagram: @flatcapcoffeeroastery

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