Monday, 16 May 2011

Metro Bank – the future of UK retail banking?

Metro Bank is Britain's first new high street bank for over a century and it's a seven days a week bank.  The bank only closes four days a year, and is open 78 hours a week.   That's because they are in the account opening business, which means taking business away from the competition. The bank opened its fifth store just the other day, and plans to have 12 stores operating by the end of this year thanks to its full capitalisation of £125 million through private funding.

Every call in the call centre is answered by the second ring and the whole technology operation is run on a pay-as-you-use basis.  The banks view is that you should over invest in stores and facilities, as that's building the brand, and that Britain's banks have underinvested in these areas for years.

That's why Metro is focused upon the small things, like the pens.  They give away pens, Lots of them.  Take away as many pens as you want. Why chain the pen to the counter?  Give them away. Like the vans.  All the banks in Britain have vans picking up cash and cheques from branches, and they don't even bother to brand them.  Metro Bank's vans are all fully branded, as that's thousands of free eyeball impressions every day.

Like the coin counting machines.  You don't need to be a customer to use those machines, and yet these coin counting machines cost about £30,000 each to put into the branch.  In traditional banks, you wouldn't do that.  You would ask where the return is.  How do you justify that? But Metro Bank justifies all of this because of the customers becoming fans and that delivers the shareholder returns.

It all looks great but I think the things that will make the real difference are the ways that Metro Bank is being set up. There are many advantages that completely new businesses have especially in banking. From the infrastructure:  no legacy systems to integrate with, all data on systems that can be scaled and are cutting edge; to the way that customer service staff work both on phone banking and in branch interchangeably. It’s these advantages that will make the real difference in delivering a truly better customer experience that might just get people to switch.

Thank you for reading! And feel welcome to leave a comment

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