User Research at Monzo

(Beatrice Borbon) #1

Our user research lead @SamanthaD explains what user research is, how we do it, and why it’s so important!

Monzo Plus - Small Scale Trial
(Toby Yakubu-Sam) #2

Big fan of Sam’s posts, testing Tuesday is something I tried to implement at Boiler Room (it went from once a week to once or twice a month)
super interested to see how more ethnographic studies will help understand Monzo users.

What I found worked well for collecting an collating feedback was a tool called and Instabug

Just gonna slip this in, if you are looking to expand the Monzo User Research team have a look at some of my work…

(Simon) #3

Great article @SamanthaD! I have been struggling with this at Cuvva, but unfortunately my biggest issue you skim over with no detail!

“We invite a number of people into our offices for one-to-one sessions.”

How do you find these people? How do you continually get new people with an hour or two free during the working day who are able to get to your office, and yet are not technical or already fans of Monzo? We have budget to pay them, but continually sourcing new people (they must not have done any testing before to be fully valid) is proving extremely difficult.

(Samantha ) #4

Thanks for sharing, Toby. It would be great to compare notes about your experiences :smile:

(Samantha ) #5

That’s a great question @simonRedwards and one that often comes up. We use a third-party recruitment company who specialise in sourcing participants for market research, or in this case, user research.

They have a large pool of people who have signed up to take part in research and will source and schedule individuals based on the criteria we’re after for that round of testing.

As you’ll know, sourcing and scheduling is very time-consuming but critical to the success of the testing. Bringing in the wrong people can yield shallow or false insight, which is worse than no insight. It’s important for us to do it properly if we’re going to be doing it in the first place.

(If there's the wrong end of a stick, you'll find me holding it.) #6

Reminds me of the time I was invited to be part of a focus group for a magazine I’d never read. I got £50, some wine and sausage rolls in return for providing my valuable insight into something I had absolutely no clue about.

(Jon Bywater) #7

@SamanthaD it’s really interesting how you’re carrying out research and I like how you are sourcing participants to come into your office, you always get really valuable insights from in-lab studies.

Atom Bank’s UX team have also integrated the UserZoom platform alongside their lab studies (similar to your testing tuesdays) and into their current research methodologies to scale up their research with statistical significance whilst continuing to work in agile sprints.

It’s been giving them quantitative insights behind their qualitative findings and allowed them to further their participant demographic by sourcing the right users globally at speed. So they don’t lose the valuable insights you get from lab they do both moderated and unmoderated remote usability studies.

I read in your article that your aim is “to find a way to share and store the feedback we receive through different channels, in one central place. We want to make feedback easier for us to analyse and prioritise, so we can ensure we’re addressing the biggest needs that impact the most people, rather than serving a minority that might be shouting the loudest.” which is exactly what UserZoom does.

If these are your goals then UserZoom could be worth introducing to you.

(Rob) #8

Hi @SamanthaD, A really interesting article! I came across it whilst Googling “Monzo user demographics” as I was interested in finding out the age demographics of users, primarily because i noticed that the new Monzo Plus test travel insurance is only for individuals and doesn’t let you add wives/husbands/kids. So i started to wonder what age Monzo users tend to be, as i’d of thought Millennials are now at an age to be starting families, even some older iGens could be starting families now as they enter their twenties. Which now makes me wonder how old Monzo product developers are and if many of them have started families, as this may lead to shallow insight you mention.

Anyway my question was do Monzo publish any demographics of its users and employees? i was just looking for age in particular but gender and other info like location would also be interesting.


This article made me think of this blog post which is well worth a read:


There is demographic data about their employee base here:

I don’t think I’ve seen anything similar for the user base.

(Rob) #11

Wow thats illuminating. Only 6% of staff over 36, i can only assume this must have an effect on what services Monzo look to offer when 76% of staff are under 31. Not that having young staff is a bad thing as this will probably help with innovation, but need to be cognizant of any unconscious bias that a young workforce could have when developing products. I have a feeling this kind of happened when the other year Monzo didnt seem to see the need for joint accounts and seemed surprised by how popular the request was. Were the developers young and not married yet and therefore joint accounts wouldnt have even crossed their mind?
Has sonething similar just happened with Pluto travel insurance just seen a photo of the three founders and they look like three young lads who like adventure holidays and winter sports, I could be wrong but I bet they dont have kids or wives yet so thought of having an option to include family probably hasnt even crossed their mind.

Incidentally isnt 36 (born 1982) like generally accepted as oldest cut off year to be classed as a millennial and being 22 (born 1997) as the youngest millennial. Making the Monzo employee age profile 5% iGen, 89% Millennials and 6% old. Would be interesting to see the user figures.

(Nick) #12

The oldest cut-off is generally seen as 1980. But there isnt really a hard cut-off, more a fuzzy cross-over period.

(Samantha ) #13

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the feedback about the article. To clarify a few points:

  1. Although there’s a high percentage of young employees at Monzo overall, that same statistic doesn’t apply across all of the teams. The majority of employees at Monzo work in Customer Operations. Given this is largely an entry-level role, it stands that the average age for people in Customer Operations is fairly young. If you were to look across our Product, Design and Engineering teams – where product decisions are made – the average age would be higher.
  2. How we make decisions isn’t just based on our age and experience. It’s primarily based on upfront research, feedback from lots of different sources (the community forum being one of many), and in this case, the partners we work with. All of our product managers and designers attend a 2-hour training workshop that covers the cognitive biases at play when we’re making decisions using qualitative data. When we’re designing and building, we’re mindful of who we’re designing for and who we’re excluding whenever we make a decision. There’s a rarely a perfect solution that will always work for everyone 100%. We have to make trade-offs when we make those decisions, and we do so as consciously as possible.
  3. When we trial a new feature, we rarely launch the “full fat” version immediately. That’s for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would take longer for us to launch something that’s more complex. Secondly, it makes it harder to pivot or adapt if we learn it’s not working for a majority of our customers. We try to launch fast, by starting with as light a version of a feature as is possible and then get a pulse from our customers to understand what’s working, what’s missing and what we need to change. The reason we went with Pluto has nothing to do with their age, it had to do with their ethos, the coverage of the policies offered and their ability to work with us at the speed we wanted to. We ran upfront user research that gave us a lot of insight as to what was important for customers, and Pluto matched these things. If we hear from customers that they’re interested in the feature but something is missing – like types of the coverage – we can always add it in future.

Thanks for your post and please let me know if I can share any more context :smile:

Edits: typos

(Rob) #14

Thanks for the insight and detailed response. The point about call center (or is it text center in monzos case) staff skewing the data had crossed my mind.

Many people in the forums have mentioned MVP so from your explanation it looks like using it allows Monzo more agile development of new features.

Any chance of sharing basic user demographics data? Still curious about who is using Monzo.