ORGANIZATION STATEGIC PLANMetro Bank hires for attitude and trains for skillsMetro Bank?s lengthy recruitment process targets people with a positive attitude and an interest in others for customer facing roles. The bank then invests heavily in training new hires to deliver high quality service, later rewarding them for customer-focused behaviour, rather than for hitting sales targets. Britain?s first new bank in over 100 years is also unusual in other ways, opening its doors for long hours, seven days a week, and welcoming customers? children ? as well as their dogs.Key learning pointsMetro Bank?s approach to customer service reflects the following beliefs:? Customer facing staff can be hired for their attitudes and taught the skills they need.? Recruiters need to recognise that every job candidate is a potential customer, and ensure that people leave job interviews with a positive impression of the organisation.? Rewarding employees for their behaviour, rather than for hitting sales targets, delivers the best results.Profile: Metro Bank PLCMetro Bank was launched in 2010, the UK?s first new high street bank in over a century. After expanding rapidly throughout London and the south east, the bank now has 27 ?stores?, as its branches are known, and almost 350,000 customers. It employs around 1,300 people, a number expected to reach 1,500 or more by the end of 2014.Placing the focus on customer convenienceWhen the American entrepreneur Vernon Hill established Metro Bank in 2010, he set out to create a new type of bank on Britain?s high streets. Metro Bank?s approach to business is based on the model that Hill had developed at his earlier venture in the United States, Commerce Bank. By focusing on both high standards of service and the convenience of customers, this model aims to turn customers into fans with the same emotional attachment to Metro Bank as many people have for widely admired brands such as Apple or John Lewis.?We want customers to have a relationship with us. We want to surprise and delight them,? says Danielle Harmer, Metro Bank?s People Director. ?So we talk about customer service in quite an emotional way because we want people to feel something as a consequence of visiting a Metro Bank store or speaking to one of our people.?The alternative, she continues, would be to compete on the basis of the rates offered on savings accounts. But customers can find that confusing, especially if their introductory rate is quietly switched to a less attractive one later on ? something that Metro Bank would not do, according to Harmer. Instead, the bank offers a limited range of products that she describes as simple, transparent and fairly priced. ?The rates might not be the best in the market but we believe that people will trade a small amount in return for service,? she says. ?And on the basis that we have thousands of customers joining us every month, we would say that that we are right.?Looking to take a different approach to rivalsHarmer believes that the focus on building relationships with customers and on their convenience translates into some tangible differences between Metro Bank?s business practices and those of its longer established rivals.Establishing relationships with new customers face-to-faceTo open an account at Metro Bank, new customers have to come into one of its stores, even if they intend to do their subsequent banking online. According to Harmer, this helps customers understand the ?Metro Bank service experience? and establish relationships with the bank. ?Once you have a relationship with us you can do business with us any way you like ? over the phone, in a store or online,? she says.Open seven days a weekTo enable customers to do their banking when it suits them, Metro Bank stores have longer opening hours than the branches of other high street banks. They are open seven days a week, 362 days a year, from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays, with slightly shorter hours at weekends.Children and dogs welcomeIn Metro Bank?s early days, it received considerable publicity for allowing customers to bring their dogs into stores. The bank continues to be dog-friendly, offering canine visitors free dog biscuits and keeping bowls of fresh water in every store.Store staff extend an equally warm welcome to customers? children, who are offered lollipops, colouring books and pens, as well as the chance to play games on a ?magic money machine?.Harmer says that welcoming children and dogs in these ways is a way of making their parents and owners feel equally welcome. ?It is part of what makes us different,? she says.She believes that the policy also creates a more pleasant environment for staff and customers ? including those who do not have either children or dogs. It means that they do not have to walk past dogs barking in protest at being tied up outside stores or put up with children making their boredom felt as they wait for their parents to do their banking.Recruiting the right peopleMetro Bank?s business model influences its approach to recruiting staff. For customer-facing roles, the bank looks for people who will smile when they meet customers, make them feel comfortable and shake their hands. ?So we hire for attitude and train for skills,? says Harmer.Online self-selection processThe recruitment process starts by asking job candidates to complete an online questionnaire that helps them decide whether they are suited to working at Metro Bank. The questionnaire asks, for example, whether they would be able to work flexibly around the bank?s long opening hours. There are also questions about whether they have the right to work in the UK.After completing this questionnaire, which takes around two minutes, candidates are advised via a ?traffic light? system whether or not to proceed with their application. A green light indicates that someone looks like the kind of person the bank is looking for and invites them to apply; amber indicates that there may be some issues they should consider before applying; while red is a warning that they would not be happy working at Metro Bank. It is, however, up to the individuals themselves to decide whether to go on to the next stage of the recruitment process.Detailed online applicationCandidates who decide to continue with their application are asked to complete a more detailed online application form. This includes questions designed to establish what motivates the candidates and their views on customer service. Those who do well at this stage are then invited to take part in a telephone interview.Telephone interview assesses interpersonal skillsAt this stage, recruiters look for evidence that candidates are helpful and genuinely interested in other people. They ask candidates to describe, for example, an occasion when they surprised and delighted somebody. This need not necessarily have happened while they were working in a customer-facing role; it could just as easily be an example of helping a stranger in some way.?Metro Bank people are actually quite easy to spot,? says Harmer. They are smiley and positive and they like to help and have relationships with people.?General intelligence testCandidates who display the qualities Harmer describes then take an online test that checks whether they have the general intelligence needed to learn quickly.?This is a Thomas International package, which covers topics such as reasoning, perceptual speed, and number speed and accuracy,? Harmer explains.?An example of a question that we would pose to candidates would be to provide them with three words, two of which will be related in some way, while the third is the odd one out. The candidate must decide each time which word is the odd word out.?M Factor auditionThe final stage in the recruitment process is an audition designed to establish if candidates have what the bank calls ?the M factor?. This involves both interviews and some simple role playing that enables members of the recruitment team to observe how candidates greet ?customers? entering a store ? whether they smile, introduce themselves, offer to shake hands and so on.Throughout the audition, recruiters try to put candidates at ease. ?We create a very relaxed atmosphere because we want to see people at their best,? says Harmer. ?People applying for entry-level roles are often at quite an early stage in their careers, and a scary assessment centre wouldn?t help them or us.?Members of the recruitment team are also aware that every candidate is a potential fan of Metro Bank. So whether or not someone is offered a job, recruiters try to ensure that they leave with a positive impression of the bank.Job offersRecruiters conducting the earlier telephone interviews have become very good at identifying people who are likely to do well at the M Factor event, according to Harmer. However, there are still significant numbers of people who do not quite make it through this audition. Some are just not cut out to work for Metro Bank. Others, who have applied for jobs as customer service representatives may not be quite ready to take on this role, which involves helping customers open accounts. These candidates may be offered other available positions ? for example, as cashiers.Training for customer facing staffHarmer says that, having selected new hires for the attitudes they display during the recruitment process, the bank invests heavily in training and developing them.Introducing new starters to Metro Bank?s culture and visionAs part of their offer of employment, all new starters receive an invitation to a cultural training event called Visions. This takes place at the bank?s head office in Holborn, central London, above its first store, and starts with breakfast. After that, members of Harmer?s People team and other teams from across the organisation talk to the new starters and make them feel welcome. Later in the day either Craig Donaldson, the bank?s Chief Executive, or Harmer come in to welcome the new starters and tell them about Metro Bank?s banking ?revolution?.?Then it?s a day of training, which is all about our story, our behaviours, our culture and our difference,? says Harmer. ?It?s also a celebration of their joining Metro Bank.?During this training employees are introduced to the acronym AMAZE, which stands for:? attend to every detail? make every wrong a right? ask if you?re not sure ? bump it up? zest is contagious ? share it? exceed expectations.At the end of the day the new colleagues, as the bank refers to its employees, perform a conga around AMAZE Central, as Metro Bank?s head office is called. ?Everybody in the offices stops what they are doing and cheers and applauds the new colleagues,? says Harmer. ?Everybody does that whether they are in a meeting with a customer or on a conference call.?Customer service trainingFollowing the celebrations and cultural immersion of Visions, new customer facing staff are divided into three groups and given training tailored to their roles as cashiers, customer service representatives or contact centre representatives. This training lasts between two and six weeks, with customer service representatives who will be working in stores or in the bank?s contact centre taking longer to train than cashiers.Over the last four years, Metro Bank has put more than 1,000 people through this training, which focuses both on the technical aspects of the jobs that new starters will be doing and the behaviours they are expected to demonstrate. They are also asked to use ?Metropedia?, the bank?s online knowledge bank, to find information such as how to open an account for a child. This is designed to develop their self-reliance.Ongoing trainingFollowing their initial training, employees have opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills further. Metro Bank?s learning and development specialists are continually designing new courses, and have so far rolled out around 16 courses with titles such as ?Customer service essentials? and ?Licence to manage cash?.Cultural refresherAll staff also go through a cultural refresher programme called Evolutions, which runs every 18 months or so. ?We use that to remind people what we are about, why we are here and how exciting it is to be part of building something new,? says Harmer.Training delivery and methodsAll training of customer-facing staff is delivered by an in-house training team based at Metro Bank?s corporate ?university?, which has what Harmer describes as a rapidly growing campus in Fulham, south-west London. Many of the people on that team have themselves worked in customer-facing roles. Harmer points out that in the same way that the bank takes people with the right attitudes and then trains them to serve customers, it selects individuals with a knack for helping others be better at their jobs and then trains them to be trainers. ?We try really hard to promote people from within because our culture is so important to us,? she says, adding that internally developed trainers become cultural ambassadors.Blended approach to learningThe training they deliver blends classroom based learning with e-learning, which Harmer describes as a powerful combination. ?People experience e-learning and then everybody stops and they have a Discuss (check for the help you need)ion about what they have learnt and any problems they?ve had,? she says.Training rooms set out to look like the bank?s stores, complete with customer service representatives? desks and cashiers? counters, enable employees to role play the situations they are likely to experience in the workplace.Much of the training that new customer-facing staff go through takes place in the classroom. However, sessions in the classroom are interspersed with time in the workplace, which gives people opportunities to practise what they have learnt with a dedicated ?buddy?. They then go back into the classroom to Discuss (check for the help you need) their experience and explore what they need to do differently.Buddy schemeThe bank offers a training programme called ?Licence to be a buddy?, which existing staff in the stores or contact centre can go on if they wish to help new colleagues. ?Being a buddy is something we talk to people about if they want to get on but are probably not quite ready for a new job yet,? explains Harmer. ?So they can become a buddy and help other people. That?s a really important part of the way that we work together as a team at Metro Bank.?Assessing customer serviceMetro Bank uses a number of methods to measure customer service, including Netpromoter scores, mystery shopper scores, feedback on Twitter and other social media, and complaints, which are known internally as ?expressions of dissatisfaction?. The information generated by these methods influences the performance ratings awarded to both store teams and individual employees. In addition, store leadership teams observe individuals at work to assess the quality of service they provide their customers.Rewarding good customer serviceReward for Metro Bank?s employees consists of basic pay, bonus and a share in the long-term value creation of the business, which comes in the form of share options.Pay and bonus rates are based partly on the organisation?s overall performance and delivery, and partly on individuals? personal behaviour and performance. ?So people in customer facing roles ? our store and contact centre colleagues ? have no product targets at all,? says Harmer. ?We ask them to provide brilliant service.?Rating individual employees? performanceLine managers review their team members? performance every six months, giving each individual a rating for delivery and a rating for behaviours. The delivery rating is based on whether individuals carry out their jobs in the right way ? for example, by asking customers for all the documentation needed to open new accounts.Behavioural ratings, on the other hand, are based on how well employees look after their customers, whether they support their colleagues and how involved they are in volunteering activities and events such as the opening of new stores.?So it?s very much about rewarding people for building Metro Bank and creating fans,? says Harmer, stressing that behaviours are considered just as important as delivery.All ratings are calibrated and checked for fairness by line managers? own managers and by a member of the bank?s People team. Individuals then have a meeting with their line managers where they are given their rating and receive feedback on how well they are doing their job, and where there is room for improvement.Hoping to continue growth by being differentHarmer believes that Metro Bank?s focus on customer service and its approach to recruiting, developing and rewarding employees are paying off. But it is too early to say whether this new entrant into Britain?s banking sector will pose a serious challenge to the dominance of the longer established high street banks.?We are heading towards 350,000 customers, which we are quite proud of as a four-year-old bank, and we?ve got thousands more joining every month ? many of them people switching from other banks,? says Harmer.?But our focus is very much on being the best we can be. We are very respectful of the other banks and what they have achieved. We just want to offer something different.?Category: essay

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