19 May 2017

The Future of Customer Operations ("COps")

Rounding out our week focusing on the work of the Customer Operations team at Monzo, Leah Templeman, Head of Operations, lays out the vision for the future of the team and how we scale to millions of customers. You should read all of the posts this week: the mission of COps, meeting a team member and working remotely at Monzo, then top it off by watching our video Q&A with the team.

As Emma said earlier in the week, our mission in the Customer Operations team is to make sure you receive timely and accurate help, whenever and wherever you need it. It’s very easy to say, but not so easy to do. It’s magnitudes harder when you’re a company which has doubled customer numbers in the last three and a half months. I’d like to share Monzo’s long-term vision for COps, some of the challenges we’ve already started to face and how we intend to address these.

The Vision

We want to provide a service that isn’t just fast and accurate, but demonstrates the genuine care we have for each and every one of our customers. We want to ensure that you can contact us however you want - be it by in-app chat, email, over the phone, Facebook, Twitter, community forum, video chat, Whatsapp or homing pigeon. We want you to know that you’ll get a response, no matter what time of day or night it is or where you are. We want you to feel confident that the person you’re talking to knows the business inside-out, and is personally able to fix the vast majority of issues.

COps are not just responsible for responding to our customers; we are also the people that make the company work. All work across the business that cannot be automated yet and scales with our customer numbers is completed by the COps team. This enables us to keep the other teams small and to keep decision making fast.

Many people see us as a technology company, with a banking licence. In reality we are a customer service company, empowered by technology, with a banking licence.

The Challenges

The challenges we need to overcome to achieve this vision broadly fall into two categories: quantity and quality. For quantity, we want to be able to answer as many questions as our customers ask and complete as many tasks as the rest of the company requires, as quickly as possible. For quality, we need to ensure that the work we do is accurate and delivered in a friendly but professional manner.

Quantity - ensuring we can respond to all queries or tasks within an appropriate timeframe

To achieve this we undoubtedly need to scale the team, quickly. We believe the best solution to scaling is to create a flexible but effective distributed workforce, where people can be trained up and work remotely, as well as in Monzo HQ. In the long-term, we’d like to provide flexible, demand-led salaries depending on how many people we need at any point in time to match our COps’ needs with the customers’. This will mean that if we have any unexpected surges in queries or tasks, we can offer pay boosts to anyone able to come on at short-notice. Building this team is one of the biggest challenges on the horizon, and we’ll be creating a role specifically focussed on solving it soon, so if that interests you, watch this space.

To support our ambitious growth plans, we also have to create tools which allow a small number of people to support a large number of customers; our long-term aim is for 1 COp to support 100,000 users. At the moment we are at a ratio of 1 to 5,000 so we have a long way to go! We hope to make several step changes to the current tools in the next few months, including bringing more features in-house and starting to use machine learning to predict the best responses to a customer, so all a Cop has to do is review and press send.

The tooling we build will be key to the success of the COps team. What if we can’t build it the way we imagined, or we can, but we don’t do it fast enough? We have already identified this as a major risk not just for COps, but for the company as a whole and so now have a team dedicated to achieving just this: our Internal Product team. You’ll be hearing more from them and how they are tackling these issues in the next month.

Quality - ensuring all our work is a high standard

Whilst scaling the team and building efficiencies is important, it’s equally important to ensure we have effective training and development plans in place; just having more people is not enough! We’re working on creating an ongoing learning programme which can be done remotely and is built for various different learning styles. We want this to be friendly, personal and informative, whilst also making sure it can be completed by many people at once in various different locations. Once we have built this out internally, we would also like to share it externally. We’d love to see a “Monzo University”, open to everyone, in the future!

We need to hire people we trust and create a culture where they are actually empowered to help our customers and fix issues themselves, not just follow a script and then refer to another team. We have a high bar to join the COps team, and we do not intend to ever change this. COps need to be highly intelligent, empathetic people who want to work for an amazing company, be part of something game-changing and get high job satisfaction from it. In the future, I can imagine it being particularly well-suited to those who also value flexibility highly, like stay-at-home parents or travelling nomads.

A constant feedback loop, wherever someone is based, will be critical to ensuring this is successful. Every cop should operate within a small group of other COps, a “squad” (currently ~8-10), with a squad captain who gives personal weekly feedback as well as facilitating regular group discussion sessions to improve how we operate internally.

What we’re doing today

I’d like to end on a quick note about what we are doing today. We know where we want to go, but we also know we are not there yet. We not only have the issue of scaling, we also need to improve whilst we’re doing it. For the last month, our response times have been slipping and we’re feeling the growing pains.

To address this, we’ve gone into hiring overdrive with several members of the team focussing almost exclusively on hiring. We’re introducing new roles to ensure that we make more conscious decisions in the future, are able to accelerate our hiring plans, including working remotely, and can hopefully predict the pain points before they come next time. If you’d like to join the COps team, please check out our careers page.

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