Strengthening communication and collaboration across city-centre businesses
How can Lincoln's Business Improvement Group strengthen information sharing between partners?
The Lincoln Business Improvement Group (Lincoln BIG) aims to put Lincoln on the map as a retail and tourist destination. However, managing communication across a diverse range of entertainment and retail businesses can be challenging. In addition, several different websites displayed information about city-centre companies, which was difficult and time-consuming to maintain.
The Lincoln BIG team was initially looking to establish a partnership with a single digital agency to develop a database of city-centre businesses and deliver this information across multiple websites. After consultation with the Lincoln BIG team, we suggested a collaborative approach; creating a bespoke CRM for Lincoln BIG and sharing data across new websites managed by the various incumbent creative agencies.
A collaborative approach including multiple local agencies allowed Lincoln BIG to access to best of local talent, support the local digital sector and balance the needs of stakeholders.
Bespoke CRM of city centre businesses
nAIMS (pronounced names) is a bespoke CRM we developed in partnership with Lincoln BIG, which charts the people and organisations that work in Lincoln city centre, the premises they use and the information they need. Lincoln BIG can then use this directory and online collaboration tools in nAIMS to help improve the experience of the city centre for those who visit, live, and work in the city.
The nAIMs system is helpful for all manner of different purposes. The Tourist information centre can use nAIMs to search for accommodation providers in the city centre, so pop in if you need to extend your stay in Lincoln.
Alternatively, if you are seeking new premises for your growing retail business, call Lincoln BIG, which will use nAIMs to provide a list of all vacant retail units in the city.
Suppose you already own a business based in the city centre and want to be informed about issues that could affect your business. You can join a group on nAIMs (such as the Lincoln Security Group or Bailgate guild) to receive email alerts and updates. In a similar vein, if you want to quickly send a text message to all businesses in an emergency, you can use the mass text message facility on nAIMs to do so.
In addition to the CRM features, nAIMS included a powerful context-based search, Outlook integration, Mailchimp integration, Geo-location data and a range of export and reporting functions.
nAIMS has become a vital part of working life now as I work at Lincoln BIG and Visit Lincoln Partnership. It helps both organisations keep track of the various contacts across the city that we need to know and get in touch with; it helps us group companies, properties and people together for different mailing lists; it is incredibly useful to allow other team members to keep track of our interactions with people and organisations across the city.
Joel MurrayDigital Marketing Coordinator Lincoln BIG, Visit Lincoln Partnership
Self-service customer portal
A key element in the long term success of the project was empowering city-centre businesses to maintain their data using a self-service customer portal. Business owners use the portal to review their information stored in nAIMS and access various contact groups to receive email alerts and updates. To encourage businesses to use the self-service portal, we included features to register offers, events and vouchers.
Website data feeds
In addition to this comprehensive functionality, nAIMS provides data feeds to automatically update the Shop Lincoln, Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG websites. Including business contact details, photographs, event listings, special offers and deals, ensuring that the city's visitor websites are always current and up to date. Cursor collaborated with several creative agencies to make this vision of a digital information system for the city of Lincoln a reality.
The nAIMs project was a finalist at the 2015 Lincolnshire Digital Awards, where Cursor went on to win the Digital Business of the Year.