We’re obsessed with Customer Experience! An Interview with Michael Sherwood

17 May 2019

Inside Atom

Leigh Peacock-Goodwin
Leigh Peacock-Goodwin

According to a recent report by BrandsEye, we’re the most favourably thought-after challenger bank. Leading the charge to get us to this, along with becoming the UK’s most trusted bank on Trustpilot, has been Michael Sherwood, our Head of Customer Experience. We grabbed five minutes with him to understand how!

Q: A lot of banks claim to be customer-centric. How is Atom different?

A: It’s our purpose to be the most customer-centric bank on the planet so it bleeds into every aspect of the organisation. It’s the reason we exist so we’re working continuously to achieve that vision. What we do is really simple. Obsess about the things that really matter to customers and make those things better, together.

Q: What are some other ways you collect customer feedback?

A: We track every contact that comes into our contact centre via phone, chat, email and social media. We also track our App Store and Trustpilot ratings, and we have feedback mechanisms in the app and on the website.

We’ve built an Atom customer panel made up of our biggest promoters. There are over 400 active members on this panel, and they’re extremely engaged. They spend time completing studies and surveys, and they offer feedback on changes we’re considering for our app.

We use a tool called UserZoom that records not only their face and voice when they’re going through a task, but it tracks where they are on the screen — all this helps us understand what’s working and what we need to improve in the APP> We’re really interested in the type and frequency of our users’ negative experiences — obviously, we’re interested in the good stuff (and there’s plenty of it), but any negative sentiment really shows us where we need to improve.

Q: How do you handle the feedback you receive?

A: We communicate feedback via various routes to people across the business. We first share the insight and root-cause analysis with our customer experience action group, which is a gathering of people from across all areas of the business, were we discuss the key messages and agree the changes needed that will make our customers lives easier.

Those insights feed into change process, and then it goes into the development team — and finally we release an updated version of the app. Once the new app is released, we continuously monitor ongoing customer feedback to confirm the changes we have made have hit the spot. We close the loop by feeding the results back to our people, through town halls, daily standups, and internal communications like our employee newsletter.

Q: Are there any examples of app updates that happened directly because of customer feedback?

A: In one instance, customers were having problems accepting their mortgage offer in app. It’s one of the biggest purchases you can make — both financially and emotionally — and some customers were struggling to find where to accept the offer.

It was driving a lot of demand into the contact centre, and those calls were quite lengthy, and complicated to deal with. So we completely reimagined the mortgage-acceptance journey in the app.

As a result, we significantly reduced the propensity for customers to call the contact centre about issues relating to accepting their mortgage offer.

Q: So has that customer-focused change actually benefited Atom from a business perspective?

A: I’m often asked if focusing on the customer is good for business. Of course it is. Reducing contact centre demand is a prime example. If you understand the reasons customers are calling and fix the things that are driving the contact in the first place, then you reduce the cost associated with answering the query. If you keep improving on the things that matter most to customers, realising the business benefit becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.