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Simon Hayward



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“It was great to see the enthusiasm for adopting the new way we want to talk to customers”


Since 2008, Tesco Bank has been wholly owned by Tesco plc. 3,000 staff based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle serve 7 million customer accounts.

Tesco Bank’s aim is to be the financial services provider of choice for Tesco shoppers by giving them great service and good value while rewarding their loyalty for shopping at Tesco.

The challenge

In 2014, Tesco Bank restructured as part of a major transformation programme with the aim of becoming less product-focused and more customer-centred. Its strategic goal was to increase levels of customer satisfaction and improve performance in line with Tesco Group’s overall purpose and values.

As a ‘challenger’ bank, Tesco Bank was keen to take an innovative approach to engaging its people with this strategic goal. Tesco Bank worked closely in partnership with Cirrus to co-create and co-deliver ‘The Customer Engagement Programme’, a highly interactive, collaborative engagement programme, aligned to the overall transformation, in line with Tesco Group’s overall purpose of “Serving Britain’s shoppers a little better every day” and its values:

  • No one tries harder for customers
  • Treat people how we like to be treated ourselves
  • 'Every little helps' makes a big difference.

The bank decided to focus on long-term, sustainable behavioural change rather than short-term goals and financial incentives. The programme’s main aim was to support colleagues to ‘delight’ customers consistently.

The solution

Cirrus began by facilitating a series of ‘disruption’ sessions with Tesco Bank colleagues who were challenged to co-create the course of a successful customer call.

Previously, calls had been process-driven and lacked empathy. The ‘disruptive’ approach changed the ‘because we’ve always done it like that’ mindset. During these sessions, colleagues deepened their understanding of what really mattered to Tesco Bank customers. As a result, the newly-defined ‘customer journey’ was flexible in structure to accommodate customer needs.

The ‘disruptive’ approach changed the ‘because we’ve always done it like that’ mindset.

A series of workshops for banking teams was co-created and co-facilitated by Cirrus consultants and Tesco Bank L&D professionals. Each workshop was introduced by at least one Tesco Bank senior leader.

Cirrus creative designers developed interactive learning materials including floor-based board games and posters to annotate during workshops which reinforced key messages. Additional materials were displayed in the workplace.

A change of mindset

The greatest challenge was changing the mindset of the business. Through the initial consultation process, the disruption sessions and the programme itself, Cirrus and Tesco Bank worked together to create a shift away from a short-term focus on process-driven communication towards a more sustainable, long-term, customer-focused approach.

As a result, CSRs developed greater empathty with customers and enhanced understanding of customer needs. This enabled them to offer superior levels of service.

Consistent communication helped to reinforce that this programme was about deeply engaging employees with this new style of service, centering on customer needs rather than transactional processes. The facilitative style and experiential approach introduced by Cirrus enabled participants to make discoveries for themselves.

By increasing participants’ understanding of customer needs and building the capability to meet these needs more effectively, this programme helped colleagues to understand how great customer service could differentiate Tesco Bank in the marketplace. It also developed leaders to drive change and support their teams.

Consistent communication helped to reinforce that this programme was about deeply engaging employees

By March 2016 all 1,500 Tesco Bank CSRs and the entire banking leadership population had experienced the programme. To ensure sustained success, elements of the programme are embedded in recruitment, assessment, induction and performance management processes.

“It was great to see the enthusiasm for adopting the new way we want to talk to customers, treating them as individuals, delivering the right outcome and promoting products and services which are relevant to their needs,” said James Devlin, Tesco Bank’s Head of Transactional Banking.

The results

This programme has won both the 2016 HR Network Award for Employee Engagement and the Employee Engagement Awards for Customer Engagement. Results include:

  • 21% decrease in complaints from November to March
  • 40% decrease in re-opened complaints from November to March
  • 26% decrease in compensation from November to March
  • Complaint comebacks from customers reduced by 3%

‘What Matters to You’ employee engagement survey results:

  • 74% of colleagues feel ‘proud to work for Tesco Bank’
  • 74% would recommend Tesco Bank as ‘great place to work’

Scores for the following have significantly increased:

  • Responsiveness 87% (+13%)
  • Empathy 89% (+8%)
  • Collaboration 84% (+6%)

Additional evaluation demonstrates:

  • An improvement in net promoter scores showing increased customer loyalty
  • CSRs more skilled and confident to have richer conversations
  • Improved collaboration across the leadership, management and CSR teams
  • CSRs engaged with the concept of ‘Delight’, taking pride in many ‘Delight’ stories
  • CSRs learn from each individual customer and ensure that they offer tailored solutions.
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