Ahead of the 5th Annual Spring UNLEASH Conference & Expo, we spoke to Danielle Harmer, Chief People Officer at Metro Bank, about joining up the experiences of candidates, employees and customers through company culture. Danielle will be leading a roundtable discussion on this topic on Day 2 of the conference (20th March) at 11:15am on the Work Revolution stage.
What led Metro Bank to focus on connecting their candidate, employee and customer experience?
Our colleagues are our biggest asset. While we have straightforward transparent products and great technology it is our people that create the exceptional service experience our customers love.
It is a simple truth that people behave how they are treated, so if you want your people to provide exceptional service that creates fans then you need to create an environment that supports them to do that and treat your own people as your customers. You need a culture aligned to your purpose.
The first experience that people have of our brand may be as a candidate rather than as a customer. So, our goal is for every candidate to leave the recruitment process as a fan… whether they join Metro Bank or not.
To do that we provide a candidate experience that gives people a clear message about our ethos and service focus as well as what kind of organisation they may be joining.
That’s why we’re all about our people and culture. We give our colleagues the tools and resources they need and provide an environment that helps them to create fans, internally and externally, every day.
And what do you think puts the company at the forefront of this effort?
If you want a different outcome you need to do things differently, so we hire for attitude and train for skill.
Our recruitment process is a testament to that. For example, interviews for our volume roles are structured like auditions – named ‘MFactor’ – and are designed to put candidates at ease and help them be at their best. This means kicking off with an icebreaker and a process that includes practical role plays and team tasks.
We give our colleagues brilliant training and encourage them to identify stupid rules so that everyone can surprise and delight our customers. Our in-house training facility Metro Bank University offers hundreds of courses and development programmes for our colleagues.
We’re curious about our people; we love to see them grow and develop.
Why is company culture so important to employee experience, and thereby customer experience?
Customer experience is driven by employee behaviour and company culture is how people behave so the two are closely aligned.
Our culture supports our simple purpose of creating fans. Everyone lives our culture, including our entire executive team.
We’re all frequent users of Yammer – an internal social media network that enables colleagues to share their stories and challenge stupid rules. Whether that’s through scheduled ‘YamJams’, which are open conversation sessions on specific topics hosted by our leaders, or just as and when they crop up.
We also hold face-to-face sessions with colleagues from ‘Have Your Say Café’ discussion groups, to large ‘Revolution Updates’ where colleagues share their views and keep up-to-date with the business.
You must be continuously fine-tuning your approaches to ensure the wants and needs of your workforce, candidates and customers are met. How do you manage this effectively?
We’re curious about our people; we love to see them grow and develop, and we analyse data from a number of sources every month, including Glassdoor, to understand where we can be better.
All colleagues have two days of cultural immersion training when they join, as well as regular one-to-ones, reviews and plenty of opportunities for recognition, so that we’re offering the very best support for each and every individual to help them be at their best.
Managers are enrolled in a variety of in-house leadership programmes, where they are trained on how to support their teams and given the tools and techniques to do so.
Given that leaders have the privilege of inspiring and nurturing our fantastic colleagues, we think it is important to support and develop leaders so that they are ready and able to do this.
Remember your people will know what customers love and hate and also what does or doesn’t work in the organisation – make sure they can and do tell you.
If you could go back and start your efforts in this area again, what prior knowledge do you wish you had?
I wish we’d had access to some of the HR tech we have available today! Our analytics capability has improved dramatically but there is always more we can do to predict future outcomes and model possible approaches to help our decision making.
Looking to the future, how do you envision our capabilities in the customer/employee/candidate experience domain will progress in the next few years?
We will certainly be incorporating more technology, for example we are reviewing our candidate testing at the moment because we think we can provide a better candidate experience and also better predictions around potential for success in the organisation.
The challenge for HR executives is determining where to invest and which technologies make commercial sense for the organisation.
Finally, for those HR professionals who would like to start aligning their customer, candidate and employee experiences, what three pieces of advice would you give?
1. Have a clear goal or purpose for the organisation and align everything to that… from candidate experience, to customer experience, culture and training.
2. Ensure you have the right people across the organisation – particularly for leadership and customer-facing roles. Leaders are vital for culture as people ‘boss watch’ and your customer-facing colleagues are the people you rely on to deliver customer experience.
3. Inspire, empower and listen to your colleagues. Give them a way to raise questions and make suggestions. Remember your people will know what customers love and hate and also what does or doesn’t work in the organisation – make sure they can and do tell you.
About Becky Norman
Becky is Editor of HRZone and Trainingzone, global online communities of people working in the HR and L&D industries. Becky works closely with leading HR and L&D practitioners and decision makers to ensure the publications offer a rich source of real-world insight and fresh advice to their audience.
HR and L&D professionals today must adapt to a complex mix of challenges caused by ongoing business disruption, technological advancements, a changing political landscape, varied employee needs and more. Becky aspires to make HRZone and TrainingZone the destinations for professionals to seek guidance, analysis and opinion on how to tackle these challenges and continue to deliver value.