Monzo Staff Weekly Q&A - James Clyburn (COps Activity Lead) 📈

Note : All Monzo Q&As to date can be found here :grinning:


Forum fam, how’s it going? We’ve had a pretty spirited start to the week, haven’t we? :grinning:

In case you missed it, we just shared our November update! Have a look and gain some insights into what’s to come over the next few weeks.

Can you believe it’s only 6 weeks until…


But anything can happen in 6 weeks. Anything.

Not least of all, our Monzo Socials in Bristol and Glasgow :wink: Come and have a drink on us and meet your fellow Monzo friends :grinning:


Before we introduce this week’s guest, it’s catch up time! :grinning:

*Click here to see all previous Q&As*

Week 1 : Chris MacLean, Customer Operations & Vulnerable Customers :santa:t2:

Week 2 : James Nicholson, iOS Engineer :green_apple:

Week 3 : Tara Mansfield, People Operations Manager :woman_technologist:t5::man_technologist:t3:

Week 4 : James Routley, Backend Engineer :hammer_and_wrench:

Week 5 : Hugh Wells, Customer Operations :policeman:t3:‍♂

Week 6 : Naz Malik, Technical Specialist :computer:

Week 7 : Fred Morgan, COps Squad Captain (Calls & Social Media) :telephone_receiver:

Week 8 : Emma Northcott, COps Scaling Team :balance_scale:

Week 9 : Jarno Wolf, COps Financial Crime Specialist & Squad Captain :wolf:

Week 10 : Maria Campbell, Head of People :woman_office_worker:t2::man_office_worker:t4:

Week 11 : Jim Amey, Night COps Captain :bat: :crescent_moon:

Week 12 : Richard Cook, Online Community Manager :man_cook:

Week 13 : Beatrice Borbon, Content & Press Manager :newspaper:

Week 14 : Tom Blomfield, CEO :crown:

Week 15 : Ella Johanny, COps/Hiring :handshake:

Week 16 : Harry Ashbridge, Writer :writing_hand:t3:

Week 17 : Beth Scott, Overnight COps :cat2:

Week 18 : Georgie Parmenter, Executive Assistant to the Founders :blonde_woman:

Week 19 : Vulnerable Customers Team :sunflower:

Week 20 : Leah Templeman, Interim VP People :sun_with_face:

Week 21 : Daniel Chatfield, Backend Engineer, Fincrime & Security :closed_lock_with_key:

Week 22 : Valerio Magliulo, Product Manager - Revenue Team :money_with_wings:

Week 23 : Sam Watkin, Operations Analyst :thinking:

Week 24 : Kieran McHugh, Backend Engineer :desktop_computer:

Week 25 : Jonas Huckestein, Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer :computer_mouse:

Week 26 : Annual Report Edition with Tristan Thomas and Julie Oey :calendar:

Week 27 : Zander Brade, Lead Product Designer :pencil2:

Week 28 : Richard Dingwall, Payments Engineer :moneybag: :wrench:

Week 29 : Oliver Beattie, Head of Engineering (Reliability Report Special) :watch:

Week 30 : Bruno Vaz Moço, Product Manager (Scalers) :balance_scale:

Week 31 : Dillon Van Auken, Remote COps Team Lead and Vegas Project Team Lead :first_quarter_moon_with_face: 🂡

Week 32 : Rhys Davies, COps Cardiff Office :dragon:

Week 33 : Emily Parrett, COps Call & The Gang :phone:

Week 34 : Liam Houghton, Ops Fixer :hammer_and_wrench:

Week 35 : Frances Coyle, Legal Team :scroll:

Week 36 : Shak Welch, COps Fincrime Specialist :police_car:

Week 37 : Sarah Allen, People Operations :woman: :man:

Week 38 : Simon B, COps Community Specialist :globe_with_meridians:

Week 39 : Natalie Price, Visual Designer :paintbrush:

Week 40 : George Webster, Night Cop :crescent_moon:

Week 41 : Brenda Wong, COps, Call & The Gang :telephone_receiver:

Week 42 : Niamh Power, Mobile Engineer (Android and iOS) :calling:

Week 43 : Vuokko Aro, Lead Product Designer :paintbrush:

Week 44 : Meri Williams, CTO :computer:

Now, let’s get into it! :grinning:

This week in the Hot Coral Hot Seat™️ we have… James Clyburn, COps Activity Lead!!!


I have no idea what’s happening in this picture :question:

James has been with us since November 2017. He is one of several Jameses in the company. We have a Slack channel called “Council of James” where they plot and scheme. Or something like that. I dunno, you’ll have to ask :wink:

He’s a COps Activity Lead!

But what does that mean?


I’ll let James explain!

"When I’m not chatting to our customers myself, I’m coordinating and supporting COps each day as an ‘Activity Lead’, making sure our “service management” (cover we have across our different platforms) is as balanced and efficient as possible, helping customers get the quickest and most effective replies.

When wait times are high, this is a tough job that means we’re always tweaking the way we work, but the most important thing is customers can talk to someone quickly when they really need us most.

I work with engineers when leading the COps side of Outages/Incidents to make sure that they everything they need to keep customer informed and supported when thing’s go wrong. And I’m the interface between COps and the wider company - any information about product launches or feedback is communicated through an Activity Lead."

Fun Fact About James!

“I once starred as an elephant in a musical” :elephant:

And his favourite thing about working for Monzo?

“Having an impact directly on a customer’s day and feeling the accomplishment and reward of being part of an amazing team talking to amazing people, like people! (Also, we have dogs and avocado toast)”

And there it is!

Get your questions in and James will be here on Friday to answer them! :grinning:


I’ll start with the question everyone was wondering about… (or maybe just me?)

What was the name of the elephant (if it had a name?) :joy:

Seriously though… What are some examples of how we balance out speed with quality? How can we make sure that easier queries can be dealt with quickly without leaving more complex ones waiting longer?

What tweaks have you implemented to try and help the situation with the current long waiting times?

Were you the front or back end of the elephant? :elephant:


What part of your anatomy did you use for the elephant’s trunk?

Has the issue with the waiting times been a frustration for Cops as well? Is there anything you think Cops could do themselves to bring that waiting time down?

Have you ever seen a query from a customer and feared for the survival of the human race?


You were in a musical?
When is the office musical sing alongs then we must do one?

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What are you doing to improve the current ridiculously long wait times and how are you helping COps cope with the pressure? Also, what is the most common thing/query COps come to you for help?

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I know we are looking for more Activity Leads, how many people can you realistically account for whilst still being aware of everyone’s skill sets and strengths?

What is your favourite word to use?

Do you like owls?


Hey folks! What a week it’s been, thanks for the questions. Let’s go!

I should’ve realised that the elephant thing would attract attention…

I was in a musical called Seussical The Musical, starring Horton the Elephant. :elephant:

I was the whole thing! Although no trunk… it was more of a stylistic representation of an elephant, so I just wore grey dungarees basically :sweat_smile:


We focus a lot of attention on our response times for Urgent queries, targeting a response within 10 minutes. So if someone has an urgent problem, they get an urgent response.

We’ve been trialling a few different approaches to route certain queries to certain COps, so if someone’s got in-depth knowledge about Payments schemes, we make sure that they’re answering the questions about a missing bank transfer, or getting set up with the Current Account Switch Service. They’re not necessarily “easy”, but they’re easier I guess, for those COps, meaning they can get back to more people.


Kind of answered this above, but we’re experimenting with a number of things. It’s quite difficult right now to balance our support across Intercom and Monzo Chat while maintaining the same service (too many people on one platform will reduce our backlog there for example), so some of this is to do with which COps are on which platform.

We make use of different people’s specific skills so we can get back to as many people as quickly as possible.

We also make sure that we’re on the lookout for queries that need quicker responses than they’d currently get at the back of the queue - for example if someone’s in a tricky situation, like their card’s not working for example (and hasn’t marked their question as urgent themselves), we’ll make sure to get someone on the case asap, so they’re not stuck.


Great question, thanks for thinking of us :policeman:

In short, yes. We want to deliver an amazing service, and part of that comes with a prompt response. When that can’t happen, it’s hard for us as we know that it’s not what you rightfully expect. It’s been a problem for a while, and we know it’s super frustrating when you can’t get in touch when you need us, and we don’t want to let you down.

But we’re really working hard to fix it. Every day myself and a number of different people from across the team, have a meeting to make sure that we’re tackling each day the best way we can.

COps are doing an amazing job, and “COps” already are helping - we’re one team, whether that’s someone in the Hiring team onboarding some amazing new recruits, Squad Captains supporting new joiners to get them up to speed as soon as possible, or experienced COps who are keeping their morales up and smashing it every day. The entire team is doing their (our?) best, and I promise we’re getting there. :muscle:


I’ve been at Monzo almost a year, and you don’t want to know what I’ve seen in that time :joy:

Nah, you do see all sorts, but in general it’s great to speak with our customers. :raised_hands:


We had karaoke at the Christmas party last year. Watch this space… :eyes:


As much as we can :muscle:

We’re really uncomfortable with the situation too, and I’m sorry.

The number one thing that’ll solve the wait times is hiring! But we need to make sure we’re hiring the right people, so we’re always equipped to be chatting to as many people as we can but keeping the Monzo touch - this is almost more important.

We’re holding assessment days at least weekly in both our London and Cardiff offices, and onboarding a crazy amount of new COps. Obviously it’s really important to make sure they’re trained in the right way, so we’re careful to make sure their onboarding journey is useful and effective.

But this means we’ll be back on track very soon, so thank you for your patience!

In terms of helping COps with the pressure, an important thing to reiterate to everyone in the team is that it’s no one person’s responsibility to get back to X amount of customers - focus on the support you’re offering right now, and let other people worry about the queue. It is of course “one team, one dream” (that’s sort of our motto at the moment), but this makes sure nobody’s weighed down by the pressure. :hugs:

As for most common query - a lot of my role is to do with a COp’s schedule, so what they’re doing at any given time (are they helping answer calls, using Monzo Chat, on Intercom, in a 1:1). So anything to do with how their day is going, that kind of comes through me :ok_hand:


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