UK: Creating Fans, Not Customers

Last Updated: 13 November 2013
Article by Smith & Williamson

Vernon Hill, chairman and founder of Metro Bank, provides an insight into the bank's unique business model and rapid success.

Metro Bank is a revolutionary UK high street bank. We've grown at an incredible rate since our launch in July 2010. With more than 950 colleagues, 21 stores, over 230,000 business and personal customer accounts, and a billion in deposits, we are truly demonstrating that the British public is desperate for a real banking alternative.

Customer relationships

The experience of building Metro Bank has been nothing short of exhilarating. As the only high street bank to launch from scratch in more than 100 years, we've had to break through a century of resistance in Britain's financial environment. Now, three years on, we are often asked about the strategy and organisational challenges behind our rapid growth. A large part of our success is due to the fact that we treat banking like any other customer service industry and we regularly compare ourselves to other successful retail brands. To us, customer relationships are everything. This is dramatically different from the traditional British banking model which views the customer solely as a target for more product sales.

Converting customers into fans

Metro Bank is based on the hugely successful US-based Commerce Bank model and the ultimate realisation of everything I learned over my three decades of building the Commerce brand. Commerce Bank opened its doors in 1973 with just nine employees and by 2007 it was a major American bank, with 440 stores across six states and 16,000 team members. Its success was based on the simple concept that customers should be the cornerstone of any business – if you treat your customers with the respect they deserve by providing the highest level of service and convenience, then you'll turn them into fans of your brand.

The emphasis is the same at Metro Bank. We offer banking that provides unparalleled levels of service and convenience to our customers. Through our unique customer-focused business we are reinventing the rules of retail banking, making every effort to remove all stupid bank rules from our services in order to make things simpler and more convenient.

Three core pillars of success

Metro Bank's success is built on three core pillars. The first is having a differentiated model, which is built around the needs of the customer rather than the needs of the bank. The second is having a strong workplace culture, which aligns to the model. And the third is relentless execution.

Metro Bank's unique model has a singular vision – we exist to provide excellent customer service. Defining your vision is the first step for anyone, whether you're a high street retailer or a professional services organisation. So many organisations struggle with unnecessary procedures that are in place simply because that's the way they always have been. You must believe in your model in order to grow!

Our motto is "no stupid bank rules", which means that we design every procedure around what works for our customers, rather than what suits us. Every business leader must ask themselves a key question: "Are my services designed to suit me or my customers?" Our stores are open seven days a week, which demonstrates our commitment to customers – we're open at their convenience, not ours. And our call centres never close, with team members answering customer questions and solving problems 24/7. This is in addition to full internet banking services. Our customers can bank with us however they choose to. After all, we are here to serve them.

It's impossible to overstate the importance of culture for Metro Bank – it's our social fabric, our DNA. Our culture matches our model and is widespread through the organisation. It's the spirit that enables our company to excel. It's absolutely essential that culture supports the business model. We've all seen examples where an organisation says one thing, but the culture contradicts that model. Pretty much every bank in the UK says that it wants to give great customer service, yet frontline staff are incentivised with sales targets. This isn't the case at Metro Bank and our staff are rewarded based on the service they provide to customers. We live or die by the service we provide. Finally, model and culture must be supported by impeccable execution. To create fans, you have to build an emotional brand that you're enthusiastic about. Service, delivery, design, look, appeal and the execution of the brand are our central focal points. Our cultural training is ongoing and our execution is relentless. Colleagues live and breathe our culture, and they're empowered to offer great service to customers.

"To create fans, you have to build an emotional brand that you're enthusiastic about."

Lessons learnt

The important lessons that we learnt when building the Metro Bank model, and continue to learn every day, can be applied to any business. No one needs another 'me too' bank or company. Successful businesses come from differentiated, value-added models. Great companies create business models that produce emotional brands and turn customers into followers or fans.

We have taken great care to ensure the accuracy of this newsletter. However, the newsletter is written in general terms and you are strongly recommended to seek specific advice before taking any action based on the information it contains. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. © Smith & Williamson Holdings Limited 2013. code 13/949 exp: 30/04/2014

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions