Last night Sugar Group had the pleasure of meeting a CCO. Metro Bank’s Chief Canine Officer! Others on the high street have Louis Hamilton and Jess Ennis, but this little 4-legged bundle of Yorkshire-ness, who attends events and seminars along with owners, Vernon and Shirley Hill, is the star. He pays attention and woofs at the good bits!
We were invited to the first of Metro Bank’s Women in Business events to hear how it’s done – or how Shirley with dog Sir Duffield “Duffy” in tow, gets it done. Shirley arrives with the pooch in the pouch and tells us she is a daughter, a wife, a mother and an entrepreneur. She is not a sister nor an aunt. This sassy, savvy and funny American is instantly likeable as she tells her story. She is honest – we like that – has changed things and re-invented the wheel – we like that more – and has a gravelly laugh which is infectious – which we love. Shirley started in business at the tender age of 9 making knitted pot holders for her neighbours. Many of us in the room didn’t know what a pot holder was whilst the others looked miffed they hadn’t come up with the idea before Shirley and could now be sitting at the helm of Pot Holders R Us. Cleverly, she managed to find out the colour schemes of kitchens (how she did that, she never said) before hitting the loom and making pot holders that would co-ordinate with neighbours’ colour schemes. “Oooh that matches my kitchen” her eager customers would cry as Shirley smiled innocently and collected the dosh!
Shirley is married to Vernon, assisting him with the architecture, design and interiors of the Metro Bank sites. She is also the CEO of InterArch Design. They make a fiery duo, who will, one bank at a time, revolutionise how we save and spend our money. Vernon finds the sites and then sends them onto Shirley who works her magic. For this she doesn’t use the loom. The bank’s style is more contemporary than crafty. They love corner plots and high ceilings and it just goes to prove that behind every great man ………….
Their success is not rocket science. The business model is simple; do what it says on the tin and do it with a smile. New recruits applying for work won’t get the job if they don’t smile within the first 5 seconds of an interview, and let’s be honest, our Shirley deserves a medal for sourcing perma-smiley Brits in banking. It may sound all a bit Disney to the average punter, but we’d rather hand over our hard earned cash to smiley, happy people. Children, dogs, cats and every other animal are always welcome and there’s coffee on tap. Open an account and tell all your friends and you are no longer a customer, but a FAN. Soon we may be throwing our knickers at this bank, as well as our money.
Staff take lunch before 11am and after 2pm, avoiding huge queues waiting for one cashier – promote the person who came up with that idea Shirley. There’s face painting, pumpkin carving, clowns on stilts, cookies, money counting machines, drive-thru cash machines (which we promise, you WILL use) George Clooney giving shoulder massages, a Sophia Webster shoe zone, a Burleighs Gin bar, Victoria Beckham offering free handbags and style advice and David Gandy and Bradley Cooper as Mortgage advisors, plus glass, lots of glass. “Transparency is key” cites Shirley. “We know how important it is to see what’s going on”. To see what’s going on inside a bank is something we’d all like to know. Let’s continue to dream.
The CCO; “Duffy” supports Battersea and if a Metro customer gives a dog a home, the bank pays the re-homing fee. “Duffy” and his canine chums are welcome in any Metro bank with dog bowls full to the brim with fresh water, cute “doggy” bandanas and tasty treats.
The 24/7 customer service centre of Metro Bank actually cares about its FANS. Phones are answered within three rings, pleasant voices ask you if you are really having a nice day and what are you up to for the weekend. This shocks us somewhat and our replies are quite pathetic like “ooooh nothing much, unless you put 5 grand in my account and I’ll go have a ball in Barcelona ha ha ha ha”. The team insist they can answer any question about their bank and services, but we wonder how many FANS have asked them what they’re wearing.
In store, bank cards and check books are printed on the spot and personal accounts are opened in 20 minutes. Stores welcome you at dawn and send you on your way with a smile and a branded pen late into the night. If you drop your bank card down the loo on a Saturday night after too many Martinis, you can collect a replacement before heading out for Sunday brunch. We likey.
Coffee, sweets, smiles, no appointments necessary and accounts opened sharpish – it’s our kinda bank and there’s nothing Sugar loves more than a woman who starts a revolution with man’s best friend! />