Getting your people right


It is hard to believe that a week as past since the last BridgeCon Scoop and this week I have been asked to direct the spot light onto the wonderful Karen Walker, Customer Services Director at First Direct. I was positively delighted when Karen agreed to come and share some of the First Direct story with delegates at BridgeCon as its award-winning service experience is second to none.

In a sector with some of the lowest levels of consumer trust, First Direct’s refreshing approach to banking demonstrates an unwavering commitment to serving their customers. Regularly cited as case study-worthy in customer experience strategy, employee engagement and just spreading a little magic, First Direct never fails to surprise me in how it has created true fans that are happy to act as advocates. Whenever they get the opportunity to sing the company’s praises they seem to do it openly.

Long before I became a First Direct customer, delegates in my training rooms would regale me with tales of amazing customer service when asked, ‘who has a great customer service example’? It was, and still is, this consistent positive feedback that begs me to question just how can you create such an outstanding culture. One that ‘just gets it’, and better yet, delivers on it daily. I asked one of my team to do a little investigating and give me their thoughts on just how they might do it. I wanted to have someone that was totally unbiased and open to go beyond what I have been told by others.

It was not long before they came back with one of the most uncomplicated answers to my questions -‘they clearly get the right people from the start’. They then presented me with these First Direct words: As much as we’re looking for the right kind of people to deliver the award winning service that our customers expect, it’s equally important we fit your criteria as well. Are you original and always on? Do you have a passion for life and take pride in your work? Here at first direct, our values are passion, pride, playful, always on, family and original. We live and breathe them everyday; they’re what make our people tick. Although we have a diverse workforce where individuality is embraced, each member of our family share our values and have certain traits that make them, well, first direct.

First Direct make a point of recruiting staff based on character and values rather than technical ability. This is combined with a culture of looking after each other and reward and recognition at every opportunity. The management ethos is such that if they didn’t look after their people, how could they expect them to look after their customers? It is with this and much more that I will end as I began – I am so delighted that we will have the opportunity to hear first hand more about the amazing First Direct brand story and the fantastic team that supports it.

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