7 mins


Monzo, I love you…

Date 10.04.2019

As Monzo tops the charts for the banking customer service poll, with 9 out of 10 giving it top marks, we take a look behind its success and how it’s created an army of coral card fans.

Despite previously working in the financial industry I had never taken an interest into banking. That was, until I embarked on a holiday to the states in 2017 and decided to research the best travel cards on the market.

At this time, Monzo was not yet a bank account, but a well-regarded pre-paid card with tourists. Courtesy of Money Saving Expert, my research led me to Monzo – which also featured an link to ‘jump the waiting list’. It sounded exclusive and I was sold.

Following my trip, Monzo then infiltrated my everyday life. It had transformed from a holiday currency solution to completely changing my spending habits, allowing me to top up the card with weekly budgets and giving me a handle on my financials that I so desperately craved.

On 4 April 2018, Monzo officially discontinued its pre-paid cards and requested all users to switch to current accounts. Although originally apprehensive, after thinking about the faultless service I had received from the brand so far, I felt ready for that commitment and never looked back…

Since setting up in 2015 (originally called Mondo), it now boasts over 1 million customers, so what’s the secret to its fast-growing success?

Here are three things the brand absolutely nails…

They know their way around user experience…

Something I noticed straight away was the brand’s carefully-crafted design.

From start to finish, the brand felt polished and simple graphics seemed to remove any reservations about transferring money to a company that had been running for only 1 year…

Never underestimate the power of an animated bank card.

But it’s not just ‘Hot Chip’, the brand’s cute animated mascot – the entire app is built with people in mind. My top features of the app are:

  1. Instant notifications of credits or debits, as we all need that reality check after dropping £200 in Topshop.
  2. Ability to add a profile image, which can be seen by your other contacts on Monzo. Seeing a familiar face when transferring money makes me feel comfortable that last night’s Uber money is going to the right person.
  3. Emojis a-plenty. It’s a small touch, but you can’t deny that it makes the brand feel more personal and ‘current’. After all, it’s the 21st century and this is how we talk IRL.

They’ve been transparent from the get-go…

The brand has championed transparency as one if its pillars for distinction and something that was longed for by frustrated customers of traditional banks. This transparency was not only within the app features – with customers being able to see real-time transactions, expenditure graphs, and overspending notifications – but also how the company communicates with its customers.

From visibility of the Monzo ‘road-map’ and their ultra-honest newsletters, outlining their goals and brand vision, to their dedicated community, it’s all very clear what they’re trying to achieve.

For me this was demonstrated faultlessly by their reaction to service down-time a few years ago…

A new, fast-growing tech solution is bound to have some teething problems, but Monzo’s honest approach to this meant that customers could actively mitigate any impact this would have.

You would think a server going down for an ‘app-only bank’ could threaten their whole business model, but a simple push notification with cleverly-placed emojis removed any concerns I had. If anything, these technical issues showcased the brand’s values perfectly and highlighted a refreshing approach in the financial industry.

They listen to their community…

With Monzo raising £20m in one of the biggest crowdfunding campaigns, the proof is there that this is a community-backed brand. Understanding ‘your real-world needs’ is Monzo’s mission which it still lives by today.

They credit many of their new features to user feedback, such as joint accounts, 3D secure payments, and a web interface for emergencies. One of the ways they have been able to provide a product that delivers to its customer expectations and beyond is a community forum.

This forum brings together Monzo customers to talk between themselves about Monzo or discuss wider conversations and advice like budgeting tips. There’s even a ‘Coral crew’ – certified Monzo fans and active members of the forum – giving an example of ‘what user-to-user support can look like’.

The scheme demonstrates how users can feel part of the brand and how their feedback is shaping the product’s future. Within the community forums there are a range of different threads, some of which include Monzo developers, such as the ‘Making Monzo’ thread. This thread often includes updates on new product developments.

For example, the development of cashing a cheque by taking a photograph is one of the ‘Making Monzo’ threads and within this you can see developers asking the users, “how often do you receive a cheque?” and, “how much is this usually for?’ etc.

Monzo are leveraging their audience for product research. With an already established community there is no reason to brief in expensive desk research to tell the brand what’s important to its users. Us ‘Monzo fans’ will do it for free.

The list really does go on and Monzo never ceases to amaze me with their service, product development, and refreshing approach.

The brand is embarking on its first TV ad campaign after relying on word of mouth solely until now. After already causing quite the disruption in the industry, this campaign may be the final piece in the puzzle to bring the brand to the masses.

Perhaps a coral card is coming to a wallet near you…?

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