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I went along to one of Monzo’s open office events a couple of weeks ago. The focus of the evening was the work their dedicated internal digital team has been doing to improve the experience of their 150 person customer operations team. As I listened intently to how they structure their team and the investment they put into hiring and creating an amazing digital experience for their customer operations team I thought about contrasted that with how differently traditional customer service teams have been positioned within other organisations that I’ve worked with.

Firstly, I can’t think of another team who has a full internal digital team dedicated to improving the experience of the customer operations team. Tweet me @dagnabbit_ if you know of anyone else who does. And secondly, why the hell isn’t everyone doing this? It totally makes sense, better experience for the customer operations team = better customer experience.

I’ve since come to the conclusion that the thing that makes this new wave of digital businesses such as Monzo, Intercom and even Bulb (who are currently running experiments into how to best structure and support their COPs team as they are the key factor in them being able to scale to 1 million customers this year) isn’t the fact that they are digital, it’s the way that they are using digital to reimagine the way they do customer service. These organisations are investing in the “totality” of the service.

What do I mean when I say the totality? A service isn’t just the user perspective (how a service is experienced). It’s also the organisational perspective (how a service is delivered). Not one, or the other. Without this totality the service will always be lacking.

It’s not the app, it’s the service

I mean yes the app is great and of course they are using digital to personalise their experiences. So much so that it’s starting to feel like what banking used to feel like, when the bank manager knew your name and the names of your kids — customising your dashboard based on the fact they know you’re overseas and sending you notifications to help you avoid going into overdraft.

But to me what is different is where the power lies. In these organisations the customer operations people aren’t the last ones hired, the least likely to be listened to, or the last ones to get any new systems to support. But they’ve always been the ones who truly define the brand of the organisation and deliver the tone of voice! And these organisations finally seem to be realising it.

At Monzo, they have a full digital team focused on making their COPs experience better. They literally match their investment in their externally facing team with their investment in the applications that the customers see. They’re building on their intercom messaging platform, creating a custom experience for their COPs team members. They are bringing the best of the new available technology to the customer operations team, applying machine learning toward making the COPs jobs easier, allowing them to create personalised messages for customers and they are hiring customer operations people who are ok with their jobs constantly changing and growing.

Designing for when things go wrong

They realise that a great, seamless digital service includes spending time designing equally amazing touchpoints for when things go wrong or don’t work. Touchpoints that anticipate needs, reduce stress and minimise confusion. These are the moments that make a great digital service or break your brand. It also means making never ending investments in improving self-service. Done is never really done.

The secret sauce

And the proof is in the numbers. Monzo is growing at a crazy rate. And, alongside Starling Bank, this week Monzo was assessed as one of the best banks in the UK from a customer experience standpoint.

Investing in making your customer operations teams lives better is actually better for your business too. If you can diagnose and answer all the questions your customers have when you’re chatting with them, they won’t call again tomorrow and the day after that. They might even answer the question for themselves the next time.

Toward the end of the evening, someone actually asked the Monzo Product Manager presenting for COPs: this is amazing, are you going to open source th or do you think it’s more like your secret sauce? The team replied, maybe. Actually, probably not. And you know what fair enough. It’s 100% the secret sauce.

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