If you are a visual snob, like me, you may never have darkened the door of a Metro Bank. I was in High Street Kensington when the Metro ‘store’ was opening a couple of years ago, took one look at the gaudy colours and wrote them off without a second thought. Don’t make my mistake.
They came to my notice again this week, when I was talking to Helen Roberts, the Start Up Britain Champion for Richmond. I was feeling a bit disgruntled with my business bank; having phoned to speak to my manager I was put through to a voice mail saying that she had left. I had received no notice of or any information about who would be looking after my company after her departure. Not a major offense but yet another indication that my business wasn’t big enough to be important to my bank. I wanted to feel valued. Helen said she recommends start-ups to bank with Metro as they are so supportive of their account holders and have a completely different approach to customer service.
Her recommendation proved to be valid. I dropped into my local Metro store (they prefer the term to ‘branch’ as it keeps them focused on the fact that they are supplying a retail experience to their customers) and was very pleasantly surprised.
The young man in the lobby greeted me with a smile, asked me how he could help and when I’d explained that I wanted to open a business account he asked me to take a seat while he informed the person I would need to speak to. He came back straightaway to say that the representative would be about ten minutes and was I able to wait. Having replied that I was, I settled back to observe the interactions between the other customers and the Metro Bank staff. I have very high standards when it comes to customer service. Having trained British Airways First crew for many years, I know the subtleties that lift an interaction from average customer service to an outstanding customer experience. Sadly, most of the time we experience that latter which I find frustrating; it only takes a little extra effort to make a customer feel special and valued.
All the staff, and there were more than you usually see in a bank’s lobby, were exceptional. They weren’t clustered together talking about their favourite soaps or last night’s football match; they were ready to greet each new customer that entered in a friendly, relaxed manner. There was a definite air of team spirit between the employees; they clearly seemed happy in their work and that satisfaction created a cheerful atmosphere, which is very unusual in a bank, in my experience.
My exceptional experience continued when I met the representative, Oladoyin Babayale, who was going to walk me through opening my new business account. Polite and friendly, he talked to me about the ethos of the bank, so that I could understand what made Metro different. He had me at hello. When Oladoyin explained that the bank does not have sales targets, they focus, instead, on outstanding customer service, which organically generates new business, I was hooked. This ethic means that my small business is just as important as a multi-national with a turnover of millions. I like that – a lot. Over the next hour or so, whilst we were setting up what turned out to be my business current account, business savings account and a personal account, Oladoyin asked me about my business with genuine interest (another first) and talked me through everything I needed to know, clearly and professionally. He was a great example of another Metro Bank ethos, ‘Hire for attitude, train for skill’.
I could go on and on about how impressed I am with Metro Bank: the fact that I left that afternoon with my debit card for my live current account; the coin counting machines provided in the lobby to amuse the children; the fact that the bank doesn’t use 0845 numbers; the bowls of water in the outer lobby for dogs and, of course, the outstanding customer service. What I want to illustrate with this article is how putting your customers first can put you streets ahead of the competition, even in a market where it would seem impossible to re-write the rules – like banking.
We are part of the global market and it can be hard to compete on price. The element of clients’ experiences that can convert them from customers to fans is the personal attention they receive. Your staff need to be passionate about your company’s vision and brand. That comes, first from your company vision and how it is embodied and second from the people you recruit and their commitment to that vision. You can have all kinds of clever marketing and practices in place but a process without passion is just a transaction.
From that point, developing great customer service should be a natural progression. You will obviously need some standards and principles in place but you will be transplanting healthy saplings into soil that is already prepared to produce an abundant crop. That preparation will enable you to create a team or a company that is consistently ahead of the market, boasting a culture where customer service is key – like Metro Bank.
Felicity Lerouge is a coaching psychoneurologist and the Founder of Phenomenal Women Ltd, the parent company under which Phenomenal People trades. She has extensive experience in the field of personal and professional development and is part of the Robbins’ Research International Senior Leadership team, coaching and training at events, worldwide. In order to stay at the cutting edge of her profession, she is studying for her PhD in coaching psychoneurology and has achieved her PhD(c).
Working in the corporate arena for many years Felicity realised there was a definite need for inspiring, engaging training that created lasting change, which compelled her to launch this training company. She passionate about enabling her clients to achieve their highest potential.
She is also the author of a modern day fable, Changing the Channel, which looks at personal and spiritual development in our current era. Felicity is an international keynote speaker and has been interviewed for a number of radio stations and coaching programmes. Her articles have appeared in a variety of magazines; she is a Platinum Author for Ezine Articles and a regular contributor to We Are The City.