I was recently very honoured to get a new and titled follower, along with a retweet, on Twitter. In fact this follower has two titles, which, considering he’s a dog and is associated with a bank is even more impressive. Of course recent history has shown us that titled bankers, or former titled bankers, aren’t necessarily guarantees of success or wellbeing – unless it’s their own.

I speak of course about Sir Duffield, Chief Canine Officer at Metro Bank, who along the rest of those wild and crazy guys and girls at Metro, the UK’s first new high street bank in over 100 years, are part of a game changing revolution in financial services in the UK. You’ve had enough of bankers that are wild and crazy? especially with your money. Well I didn’t mean Fred the Shred, or the Diamond Geezer. I mean people that are wild and crazy, along with being passionate and committed, about delivering a banking experience and making a personal connection that is truly unique and different – not only from other banks, but from most other businesses.

Time for a change – A bank you can love

Now we all know that banking has been in need of a serious shake-up for a long time. Many traditional banks are trying to walk the talk with ads that abound with “customers are at the heart of our business” or “we’re always there for you” etc. But their history of appalling service, disdain for their customers and unbridled greed can’t be quickly erased or forgotten with hastily crafted mission statements or empty marketing slogans.

So what’s different about Metro Bank?

  • No stupid bank rules
  • Unlimited dog biscuits (for your canine friend of course)
  • Free Pens – a truly Unchained Melody
  • Free cash counting machines
  • Smiling, friendly, welcoming people who love what they do – and it shows
  • Delivering a great retail experience

You may think that these just headline makers or that I’m also a little crazy for supporting an organization that has a dog in a key position and has a warehouse full of dog biscuits. But you’d be barking up the wrong tree. These are key foundations of Metro Bank’s core principles and have made their motto “Love your Bank at Last”, a genuine and visible symbol of a business whose culture matches their model.

They recognize that by focusing on service and convenience, creating a pleasant and welcoming environment, staffed by people who have fun and really care, they are truly able to develop an emotional bond that creates” fans”, not customers. As a result, it’s no surprise that people who embrace their model and become part of a community, are more than willing to become brand advocates and share their great experiences with friends to generate referrals that are the life blood of a successful business. How many of us are truly “proud” of our association with our current bank and will tell others? That’s what I thought.

Making it happen – The devil’s in the detail

Metro Bank didn’t just figure this out and hope for the best. Metro Bank founder Vernon Hill had already proven the model in the US when he founded Commerce Bank in 1973 and grew it from a single location to 440 stores across six states. The decision to operate as a retail business, not a bank, and to focus on the detail and the execution at the point of customer contact, is one of the key competitive differentiators from traditional banking operations.

As with any successful retail operation, Metro Bank has made a huge investment in facilities, training and people. Walking into one of their colourful, bright and refreshingly welcoming stores, you’re immediately struck by the fact that the staff is actually glad to see you. Clearly there isn’t an additional fee for smiling; greeting you warmly and helping you feed the Magic Money counting machine. That alone is worth the trip. But being human, having fun (and not being a bunch of bankers) or taking themselves too seriously, doesn’t detract from the staff’s total commitment and passion and the surprise and delight that dealing with caring, sharing people will bring.

Metro Bank has made a serious and on-going investment in attracting, educating and retaining the best people. Their mantra “Hire for attitude, Train for skill” continues to pay handsome dividends to customers and fellow staff members alike, and is one of the most important reasons for Metro Bank’s success. As with other successful organizations, it’s clear that both the employee experience and a great customer experience are inextricably linked and I’ve been fortunate to hear first- hand how some of their people feel about being part of this great journey.

Here are some of their thoughts:

“I said in my very first interview that I hope to spend the rest of my career at Metro Bank and I stand by that to this day. I work with the most amazing people and as part of a growing, exciting company the sky really is the limit.”

“Working in the contact centre has been a real journey for me. I love being able to offer my colleagues and our customers the support and guidance that they need, and constantly instil our culture as we grow. “

“Metro Bank is the career I’ve always wanted, and the opportunities for growth and personal development are endless.”

Everyone isn’t a perfect fit to be on the Metro Bank team, and their selection criteria, while stringent, ensures that the fit is right for both the employee and Metro Bank. Consequently the ones that make the grade understand that by delivering superior service and building long term relationships both they and the customers will be better off for the experience.

A bank that leads from the heart and feeds the soul

There’s no question that Metro Bank has set out to make an emotional and heartfelt assault on the UK financial services industry, and by doing so are changing people’s feelings and their expectations about “banks” forever. I call this banking for the soul. Because it nourishes and feeds our fundamental needs as human beings, tops up our emotional bank account and pays life changing interest on a regular basis. For Metro Bank fans and employees alike it has long term, sustainable and desirable benefits beyond a simple deposit and a regular pay cheque.

The beating heart of any organization is fuelled by the flow of spirit, emotion and energy that the employees pump out every day. But for this to happen there must be a healthy supply of truly engaged and inspired people for whom the organization has magnetic appeal and forges an almost unbreakable bond. Where an environment of innovation and ambition is generated by giving employees more than the boon of occupation, this creates a spirit of mutual respect and true sharing and ownership in the business that is a powerful and rewarding experience for all.

This is why Metro Bank is truly different, and why it means so much more than just a “bank”, for their fans, their people, and of course, Spot and Fido.

gerryGerry Brown
The Customer Lifeguard
Gerry has had key management roles in the UK and Canada, advising business on their transformation strategy and change management processes. He has been involved in the growth of many of the larger customer service operations and contact centre deployments in both countries. In his current role as a speaker, workshop trainer and consultant, his focus is now on helping businesses create a memorable and lasting customer experience that will drive loyalty, reduce attrition and bring profitable customers back again and again.

Building on three decades of business experience, and as a vocal customer himself, Gerry is fiercely committed to paying more than lip service to customers, and is rolling up his sleeves to help companies to better align the key building blocks of people, process and technology, to bring a successful and sustainable customer experience strategy to life.

Gerry is a member of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA) and the Global Speakers Federation (GSF) and speaks authoritatively and passionately about the practical, proven, customer service strategies that produce lasting, memorable and measurable results

Field of Expertise:

Development of business strategies & operational technology deployment specializing in:
– Customer experience strategy design, deployment and measurement
– Multi-channel/Omni-Channel customer service technology sourcing, design and
implementation
– Mobile, digital marketing and the value and integration of Big, and not so big, Data
– Making sense of, and deriving value from, leading CRM solutions such as
Salesforce.com, to align sales processes, operational and other complementary
technologies to truly deliver a single customer view

LinkedIn Profile: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/gerryhbrown/

About The Author

Customer Experience Magazine

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