Vernon Hill created Commerce Bank in the U.S in 1973, building it to 550 branches by 2007, when it was sold. He founded Metro Bank in the UK in 2010. He believes in great customer service and stores, not branches. There are no screens separating customers from the staff and no self-service. The call centre is London based and operates 24/7. There is a coin-counting machine which is free for use by anyone, whether or not they have an account with Metro Bank. The staff are not incentivised with targets and they do not sell insurance, derivatives or wealth management advice.
Kevin gave me a tour of the store, including the vault where safety deposit boxes are available from £180 to £600 per annum. Every store has a customer toilet, now with baby-changing facilities, following a recent complaint at the Bromley store. Metro Bank immediately arranged to add the facilities.
New customers can open an account and leave the store already armed with a credit card, debit card, online access and a cheque book, as everything is printed and provided within the store. There is also an app for your smart phone. Loans can be arranged at 7.9%, regardless of the amount and instant access deposit interest is 1.25%. Metro Bank aims to provide its customers with 'fair interest rates' - not necessarily the cheapest or most competitive but consistent. The best news is that there are NO ACCOUNT CHARGES.
Metro Bank is keen to build community relationships and offers schools the opportunity to have three sessions to teach pupils about finance and money management, ending with a fourth session visiting the store. This complies with one of the key stage requirements. Metro Man represents the bank to encourage children to join the Magic Money 5 for 5 Club and learn to save money on a regular basis.
Kevin Walker pointed out the consistent approach of Metro Bank - stores with high ceilings (minimum 16ft) on corner plots, so there are 2 sides with windows, to promote their 'openness and transparency' philosophy. He stressed the importance of customer service excellence "to surprise and delight". The store opens 10 minutes before its official opening time and closes 10 minutes later then closing time, to allow customers a little leeway.
It all sounds fantastic but 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating', so please post your customer experiences below and we will see if Metro Bank lives up to its vision.
Margot Rohan, Orpington Community
- Open seven days a week, 362 days a year, early and late
- Magic Money machines
- Safe Deposit boxes
The new Orpington Metro Bank store can be found at Unit 4, Nugent Retail Park, BR5 3RP. Customers will be looked after by a team led by Local Director Steve Ayers and Store Manager Liza Harvey. The store is open to local residents and businesses from 8am – 8pm Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm Saturday and 11am – 5pm Sunday and bank holidays, 362 days a year.
Metro Bank launched in July 2010 and is revolutionising banking for customers by providing superior service and convenience through every channel. Unlike any other bank in the UK, all Metro Bank stores provide instant printing and replacements for lost or stolen debit cards, Safe Deposit Boxes for customers’ valuables, and free coin counting for customers and non-customers with Metro Bank Magic Money Machines. Customers also benefit from a 24 hour local contact centre manned by people not machines and an innovative personal mobile app. What’s more, 'Dogs Rule at Metro Bank', so customers are encouraged to bring their canine friends to the store.
The bank uses the most advanced technology to support customers through whichever channel they choose to use for their banking. Its innovative approach has resulted in the revolutionary bank being awarded the Technology Innovation Award by Microsoft as part of the 2014 Microsoft Dynamics Customer Excellence Awards Programme. Metro Bank also supports families in local communities, and is a proud three time winner of the Mumsnet Family Friendly Gold Award.
Kevin Walker, Regional Director of Metro Bank, said: “We are very excited that from 19th December the people and businesses of Orpington will now have a bank that’s open at their convenience, and we look forward to welcoming personal and business customers to join us on our journey as we revolutionise banking.”
Metro Bank’s growth is set to continue in 2015, with new stores planned to open shortly in Cambridge and Brighton.
(Official press release)