Monzo, a fintech start up approaching Unicorn status, is a Product Management case study in the making. While it is easy to pick successful businesses and look backwards, self-selecting the examples you want to make the case of what you should do, Monzo is the opposite. They are still in the start-up phase and by monitoring their progress you can see how these practices work in the real world. By looking and monitoring Monzo, you can also learn how to differentiate successfully your offering, regardless of the industry.
Truly customer centric
What differentiates Monzo from other tech start-ups is that although they are clearly data driven they are even more customer driven. I became a fan of Monzo’s strategy by starting as a customer and seeing that they were truly customer-centric. Living on the Isle of Man, it is often a challenge working with financial institutions, as we are not part of the UK or EU. While setting up a debit card with one of Monzo’s competitors, Revolut, was an exercise in frustration, Monzo clearly had its team focused on creating a good user experience. Rather than a multi-day response to chats from a CS rep based in a low-cost location (the Revolut model), Monvo offered near real time support as I was trying to navigate setting up from the Isle of Man. This customer focus secured me as a loyal customer – and advocate – at a time when I was looking for a long-term fin partner. Monzo is now my card of choice even though there offering is feature-wise like Revolut. Given the importance of engagement and retention on LTV, this was a wise investment on Monzo’s part.
Product strategy based on making customers life easier
From a product development and management point of view, Monzo is somewhat unique in that it focuses on eliminating friction from customers’ daily life rather than adding a list of features. Monzo sent to its customers a blog post from its CEO about its plans for 2019 and what struck me was that most of the new features they will test were aimed at reducing or eliminating (in Blue Ocean parlance) rather than adding:
- Automatically compare utility options, such as energy providers, so the customer does not have to go to price comparison sites
- A way to get a mortgage or refinance with less paperwork
- Centralizing a customer’s loyalty schemes and reward programs
- Offering different types of insurance without complex terms and conditions
- Help building and tracking a customer’s credit score, as most customers do not know how their credit scores are calculated (and the credit agencies are not transparent)
What is particularly thought-provoking with these features that they are considering is not that they are innovative but that they make the customers’ life easier. They are not trying to be the coolest start-up; I did not see the words AI, crypto or VR anywhere in their roadmap. Instead, Monzo is focused on eliminating hurdles their customers face in their daily lives.
Great FTUE and simple UIUX
Another area where Monzo excels is its first-time user experience (FTUE) and user interface and experience (UIUX). When I first signed up for Monzo, I found its FTUE unique in that they turned a potentially negative experience into a positive and viral moment. When I first applied for Monzo’s debit card, they apparently were experiencing rapid growth and there was a delay in completing the KYC (know your customer) process and delivering physical debit cards. Rather than ask you to endure the delays, thus immediately decreasing your satisfaction, Monzo placed me in a queue with specific information on how many customers were ahead of me and when I would receive my card. They then allowed me to jump ahead by recommending Monzo to friends (which I did), and immediately updating how many people were still ahead of me in the queue. Even before becoming a customer, they turned me into an advocate. They then created a positive feeling by giving me control and visibility into the process.
Beyond the initial experience, Monzo has a very straightforward user interface, it is very easy to navigate and learn how to use the features. You never need a tutorial or help, the product is designed to allow you to determine quickly how to conduct transactions.
Monzo reminds me of Uber, where upon opening the app anyone can figure out how to request a ride. Creating a simple UI, however, is more difficult than creating a complex AI. Any designer can build a UI with 100 options, nested in menu after menu. Reducing those options requires a deep understanding of the customer journey and where the customer is getting value as well as hard decisions on what to include and what to delete.
The UI is also consistent with the product approach described above on making the customers’ life easier rather than just providing them with more options. If the product team simply added feature upon feature, then even the best UI designer would be unable to keep the app’s user interface clean. With alignment between the product and design team, Monzo can focus entirely on removing complications from its customers’ lives.
The strategy that Monzo is pursuing provides many useful practices for companies in other parts of the tech space, gaming, gambling, etc. Rather than trying to differentiate yourself from competitors by adding fancy bells and whistles, look at ways you can make your product easier and simpler than competitors (again, more difficult than just adding a new game to your offering). Also, ensure that everything is aligned to your strategy with your customer. If you are trying to provide a fast, clean experience, then not only should the product team develop consistent features, but your support team should focus on creating a complimentary experience and your design team should ensure the app reflects this focus.
- Monzo, a UK based FinTech start-up, is a future case study in product management best practices. By looking and following Monzo, businesses in other industries can learn how to differentiate their offering.
- Key to Monzo is a product strategy focused on making its customers lives easier rather than adding glitzy features.
- Monzo is successful by aligning its entire business on making a customer’s experience simple, from product features to the first time user experience to the overall user interface through customer support.
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