Metro Bank CEO 'on the Money’ box

Listening to the radio en route to Cornwall on Saturday I flit between channels to screen out the noise from the kids’ iPod and Nintendo DSi.  Radio 4 has Money Box on, and my beloved turns up the volume to listen to the article on mortgage rates.  I started yawning and nearly nodded off in the fast line.

I pricked up my ears to the story of the newly launched Metro Bank.  I’ve never heard of Metro Bank, which is no surprise, as they only have three branches and I am not a regular Money Box listener.

The gist of the story was that the bank was launched in July with the promise of hassle-free customer-focussed service – which was not the experience of new account holder Shelly Wills.  Shelly found that she could not use her card in the US, as the locals had not caught up with the Metro Bankers of London.

Worse still, the very poor customer helpline response meant Shelly could only simmer while her calls and emails went answered.

Up stepped Metro Bank CEO Craig Donaldson, who provided a consummate masterclass on handling a customer complaint.  I have no idea who advised him - but congratulations all round.  “Hands up, it’s a fair cop, we’ll do better next time, and thanks to Shelly for letting us know.”   No hiding, no aggression, no ducking or twisting the issue.

I would recommend this approach to organisations that have any kind of failure. In the UK, in business and in government, executives and civil servants alike run scared of delivering news that might end their careers, so they try to bury it.

The problem is burying bad news tends to fester and rot.  The smell usually makes its way to the surface, and by this time the whole organisation is implicated on a charge of bad management –depleting the already slender reputation of large corporations.

So, the learning: acknowledge the issue, respect and thank the customer, and most importantly, deliver the message with a frankness that builds consumer trust in the organisation.

Well done Craig – you are living up to the branding. at 18 mins

Richard Tibenham