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Most financial services organisations treat the implementation of a technology solution like a checkbox – something to mark as done and then not consider again for several years. But Metro Bank are different. Their growth and success are attributed in large part to their commitment to continuous innovation. It means that as soon as a technology implementation is complete, they are already looking to build on it and expand its capabilities. This commitment keeps them on pace with the latest technology and ahead of the competition.
Metro Bank began running Microsoft Dynamics CRM in 2012 and has periodically upgraded to newer versions. Most recently, they upgraded from an older version of Dynamics 365 to the newest version, opening loads of new technology solution potential. “For us, the upgrade was critical,” says Deane Roe, Head of CRM Solutions, Metro Bank. “It puts us on the evergreen roadmap with Microsoft, and it’s unlocked a world of features that we wouldn’t have had available to us before.”
The investment in technology, and specifically Microsoft Business Applications, provides opportunities to differentiate and drive much more meaningful customer engagement. “By using the Microsoft Power Platform, we have enabled better customer experiences through using some of the artificial intelligence software to understand better how our customers are feeling and then we can provide them with better support out the back of that,” says Lee Baker, Lead CRM Developer, Metro Bank.
One of the features of Dynamics 365 that Metro Bank appreciates most is that it’s more of a configuration platform than a heavy code platform – which means they can deliver customisations quickly. “We can put speed into how we actually do our development work,” says As Chris Stringer, CRM Manager, Metro Bank. And just as important as delivery speed is innovation frequency. With new releases coming on a regular basis, Metro tries to embrace all the newly available features. “We pilot,” says Stringer. “We do proofs of concept, and we can actually take that technology and see how it works in a live environment through our piloting process. So, we can see if we are actually getting a drive towards fantastic customer experience as a result of using that technology.”
Most recently, Metro has been focused on how they manage DevOps and application lifecycle management. The Dynamics platform isn’t necessarily suited to branched code the way traditional applications are, but they are finding ways to manage any limitation. “We worked with the DevOps team to explore branching. When you’re running multiple projects all within the same environment, it’s not always realistic to run them on each instance,” says Roe. And that’s where effective application lifecycle management becomes so critical. With respect to the DevOps team, Roe adds, “The sessions we’ve had in idea sharing and the knowledge sharing we’ve had have been invaluable for us deciding which way to go on a particular decision.”
In terms of other Microsoft Business Applications, Roe adds, “We will be looking to leverage the entire stack to make sure that we’re delivering that capability in the best and most efficient way for the customer and make it easier for our colleagues to serve those customers.” To that end, Metro is now working through some of their existing customisations – as well as older processes – to identify opportunities to bring in some of the newly available technology.
The commitment to continuous innovation is based on Metro’s goal of delivering the best customer service in the industry. But as a natural byproduct of this approach, Metro’s employees enjoy ongoing improvements to their work processes. “The Microsoft platform has provided us with a transparency across our organisation,” says Diane Szalay, CRM Functional Consultant, Metro Bank. “Everybody in the organisation can see all the interactions that are happening with the customer.” While other banks are chasing their tails trying to share information and processes across departments, Metro Bank keep everyone in the entire organisation on the same page with the click of a button. It is easy to see why they’re able to offer their customers a different experience.
It’s also easy to understand how Metro is able to be so consistent in their delivery of excellent customer service. “There are very few processes that aren’t run through the Microsoft platform in some way,” says Baker. “Everything from online accounts opening to safe deposit box management and even the queues and appointments in stores are managed through the platform.”
Roe best articulates Metro’s reliance on the complete Microsoft stack: “The products have transformed to an almost unrecognisable state over the last couple of years with the introduction of the Power Platform and what that can provide. And there is so much opportunity in Metro Bank for us to light those up. The challenge won’t be, do we want to innovate? It’s where should we invest our effort, the time, and what’s going to deliver that higher level of customer service.” Of course, Metro needs a strong technology partner to facilitate the continuous innovation, and that’s where PowerObjects comes in.
The most effective partnerships exist when the two sides complement each other so well that it is difficult for an observer to discern who the consultants are and who the employees are. Fortunately, that’s exactly how PowerObjects and Metro Bank work together. As Roe puts it, “Our partnership with Power Objects goes further than providing resources and an extra pair of hands. It’s actually more embedded with the way we operate, and our cultures are very much aligned.”
Cultural alignment is important, but the rubber meets the road with tangible and measurable results. For Metro Bank, there’s no shortage of those. “The knowledge that PowerObjects has shared with us is invaluable,” says Kiran Thind, CRM Team Manager, Metro Bank. “From helping us to plan the project, to actually sharing their best practices and their experiences they’ve had with other customers. Power Objects has really helped us land in a great position to progress with our project.”
When Metro and PowerObjects first partnered seven years ago, the Dynamics team was comprised of just four people. Today, the team has more than 30 and is pushing towards 40. Of course, that number flexes up and down depending on the volume of initiatives they are running at any given time. But whatever the number is, Roe believes it is critical that the people working on each initiative and providing those services are passionate about the platform: “We’ve needed to be able to rely on someone that can provide us highly skilled individuals who know and are passionate about Dynamics, and who have deployed it several times in the areas of our focus. PowerObjects can actually deliver those people quickly.” Regarding Metro Bank’s accelerated growth, Roe adds, “PowerObjects have helped us over the last couple of years to scale up very quickly.”
Support is a two-way street. PowerObjects is obviously expected to help Metro, but the partnership is so strong that the reverse is true, as well. PowerObjects has a consultant-in-training (CIT) programme in which they hire consultants who have no prior experience with Dynamics 365 or Microsoft Business Application; they teach these consultants the products from the ground up and then slowly and carefully expose them to live project work. Metro Bank are fully supportive of this approach. Roe says, “We’re supporting them by taking some of those consultants-in-training and bringing them into our team to help give them some experience. Of course, Metro Bank benefit as well from having a skilled and knowledgeable individual as part of our team for that period of time.”
One of Metro’s most significant current projects involves migrating all of their internal processes to Microsoft’s Unified Interface (UI). Another example of continuous innovation, the move to UI will make Metro’s systems easier to use and quicker to learn, as well as deliver higher data quality. PowerObjects is playing a big role: “We can see that the way this is working, taking it from start to finish, from analysis right through to development, is actually going to save us time, money, and effort in the long run,” says Roe. “That’s one of the core benefits we’re getting from working with PowerObjects.” Szalay adds, “The benefit of the PowerObjects partnership is that we can engage very quickly and very directly.”
With continuous innovation as their flagship initiative and PowerObjects by their side, Metro Bank are truly poised to keep pushing the boundaries of customer service delivery in banking. Consistently expanding the capabilities of their chosen technology solution puts Metro well ahead of the competition – even on London’s ultra-competitive High Street.
The products have transformed to an almost unrecognisable state over the last couple of years with the introduction of the Power Platform and what that can provide. And there is so much opportunity in Metro Bank for us to light those up. The challenge won’t be, do we want to innovate? It’s where should we invest our effort and time, and what’s going to deliver that higher level of customer service?