"You are only as good as my last bad experience" --- what Monzo can learn from others' mistake

As someone who works and lead projects in a customer focus industry. Today I have my enlightening moment about the saying"You are only as good as my last bad experience" and I would like to share with Monzo makers as both advises and discussion topics, because I truly believe that as core competence, customer services, should be on the top 3 for a bank which vow to make changes.

This morning I took a trip to a traditional high street bank to deposit a cheque (yes we still have these thing, shocking!). It was not a usual cheque, as the payer is in US, and they instructed their UK bank to pay me in GBP. The cheque has all the information you need to process it: Payer account information, payee name, amount, signature. The differences of this check is that it was not the standard UK cheque format. I assume is understandable, I mean it’s an authentic cheque with right information, it might take some checking, but it can be done.

Or so I thought. Here I went to the branch, wait in the queue, the lobby customer adviser tried to guide me to machine payment, but I said it might not be machine readable. Here I was standing in front of the casher’s counter. She took a look the cheque, and her eyebrows squeeze together: “Sir, this is not depositeable as it didn’t have payer bank account details.”

“Oh its all written there, it is just require some manual input as the issuer is in the US” I reply

“Hmm, I don’t know, my machine won’t read it and it only allow me to input Euro” she insist

“No No No, its a sterling bank” I said

I can tell she was confused, she reached out to her colleague who was dealing with another customer at the same time. The colleague gave some vague reply. And I was continue stuck.

After a few deadens trial, she frozen, and said “hmm, it might need further checking as it is non standard but our helpline closed today so it needs to be next Tuesday, bank holiday you know. Or you can find somewhere else can help you.”

I was frozen, my mouth said ok, but my mind asking “Did she just kick me out quietly?” I know its 12:20 and the branch close at 1pm, but surely she wouldn’t kick a customer out?

I left the counter, trying to seek helps from the customer adviser from the lobby, all I was looking for was someone to help to me to

  1. Understand whether they know how to process an old fashion cheque manually
  2. If so how this can be done

But her reply was shocking “If the cashier saw it and they can’t process it, as they were senior cashier, we don’t think we can, you have two option, contact the issuer or go to a bank can help you.”

Am I just got kicked out by a bank I set up joint account with my partner since we were first married? She didn’t said it, but it felt like it. Also, why I felt the way they treatied me as if they were dealing with a fraud criminal? They certainly can’t wait to send me away!


I wasn’t, because I am sure this is deportable and I did it using the same check with another bank belongs to the same group !

With disbelieve, I went to another bank with whom I still had an unclosed saving account with. They looked at the cheque, did some check with branch manager, apologized for manual handling takes some time, and five minutes later, I went out with a passbook marked “cheque deposit, £xxxxx”

This is surreal and crazy. The “other bank” was just a different brand of the same group!

A guess my point is as follows

  1. Always emphasis training to your staff on the process for unusual scenarios, they are what makes a difference between good and terrible experience
  2. Try to think why this customer want to deposit it today, communicate with them and understand what do they want from this experience, the first bank could have asked “Sir, I am not familiar with this, do you need to deposit today or if it is not too trouble would you be able to come back next working day?” or “Sir, I was not able to handle this as we are ready to close for today, but there is another branch open till later and they might be able to help”
  3. Finally, never ever suggest your customer “go to another shop”. Imagine John Lewis said “Go buy the curtain somewhere else” or McD sends you to KFC. If you disown your customers, they will abandon you pretty quick.

In this world about customer services, we can’t just benchmark ourselves with our peers, we need to also look across industry. If their good ways to learn from someone that is genuinely good, then we need to know how did they do it, can see if we can do it ourselves.

That saids, I have more confident and determination to want Monzo to success, its a Long Shot, but we will kick the butt of traditional banks.


Did you try sending it to Monzo?

I had this experience trying to set up an direct debit to pay my HSBC credit card from my Monzo account.

Online help desk kept referring me to an online form that only worked FROM an HSBC account. Finally found a form I had to print out, fill in and take to an hsbc branch.

Take it to branch. Queue up. Cashier said she couldn’t process the form and didn’t understand the request. Went to branch manager, she eventually took the form and the direct debit was never set up. I assume the manager threw my form away as she didn’t know what to do with it.


Setting up a scheduled payment in the Monzo app would have taken care of this instead?

I have several repeating, fixed amount payments to credit cards set-up in the Monzo app - never even considered visiting a bank to do this…

Actually, if someone went to McD and asked for a bucket of southern fried chicken, they might well advise you to go to KFC. It would be good advice, too.

Yeah I’ve done that now :blush: I just didn’t know how at first and moving alllll my other direct debits had been easy


It is really fantastic to have full control over payments in this way - really easy to set-up and really easy to control. Need to pay a bit more or less off a credit card? - adjust the scheduled payment.

And yes, you can do this with other banks but the sheer ease and simplicity of the Monzo application is light years ahead :+1::monzo:

Or they could say “why not try our chicken stack instead?

Agree. I spotted someone tried to memories by security code today. Three messages to Monzo customer chat my old card was blocked and new card issued. Took less than five minutes