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I was one of the first two people to join Starling’s Customer Service team, which means I’ve had a chance to view its evolution from quite a unique position! I’ve also had the privilege of being exposed to a variety of other areas in the business, thanks to Passport to Starling.

Albana customer service

When I first came on board in 2016, our only customers were a few members of staff, and trusted family and friends. The priority was to write Customer Service procedures to help us scale our team and external customers, which was a great opportunity to get involved in making the decisions that would influence how our Customer Service would evolve. We were defining how we could be the best team possible, but first had to look back to our values, what we believed in, what would our customers expect, and bring it to reality; essentially, we were creating the foundations for a team that could grow as quickly as we knew we were about to.

With early customer interactions, it became clear that our team had to develop a breadth of knowledge in order to provide the very best service to our customers. To provide a streamlined service from the first stage – applying for an account – the Customer Service team took on more responsibilities and became very involved with the onboarding of customers, too. Having an early insight into the path customers took before opening an account, as well as the checks we carried out, was particularly interesting, as it was my first experience of credit risk and anti-fraud measures.

Experiencing the whole business

Through Passport to Starling, I spent some time with our creative Marketing team, and got the opportunity to support some of their projects. Arranging merchandise for our first ever Hackathon was fun – we wanted everything to be perfect, and it had to all be delivered within budget and on time. The event ended up being a huge success and a win for Starling as a whole.

As we were growing as a company, it really hit home how exciting it was to be launching a brand new kind of bank. We weren’t just an app, and we weren’t just a technology company with a financial product – we were launching a completely different kind of bank in a way that hadn’t yet been done, and defining a completely new type of current account.

During this time I also wrote a blog, which was about trusting a new bank you’ve never heard of. This again exemplifies Starling’s ethos of doing things differently and giving a voice and exposure to all areas of the business. It was a proud moment to see my name, alongside something I’d written, on Starling’s website!

Don’t underestimate the role of Customer Service

The flexibility of Customer Service at Starling allows you to spend time with other teams and explore your interests in other areas, even those areas that you don’t normally consider when talking about banking. Customer Service isn’t just a team of people talking to customers; there’s also a lot of inter-departmental liaising that goes on behind the scenes, whether it’s with Compliance, Credit Risk, Payment Operations, Marketing, and of course our developers.

And when we say your feedback is important to us – it really is. All customer feedback we receive gets shared with the relevant teams and is discussed in detail and at length. From a team of two people, Customer Service had to grow quickly, and it was important to us that like-minded and passionate people joined our team who could bring a range of different interests and experiences to the table. There’s a few of us who’ve been on this journey and have shared our stories – check out the links at the end.

A year flies by

A year with Starling has gone by so quickly, and it’s frankly overwhelming to list everything we achieved so far! We launched a current account and were awarded a full banking licence, quickly grew our customer base, had a full functioning Customer Service team (from two we’re now well over 30), and we even moved offices to allow for our expanding team.

In September last year I was approached about an upcoming opportunity as Credit Operations Specialist with the Payment Operations team, after having previously expressed interest in such a role. Patrick (Head of Customer Service) and Julian (Chief Operating Officer) hadn’t forgotten, and proposed the new role to me. The Credit Operations role required a lot of thinking about and developing the procedures and setting the foundations and the room to really take ownership over the role.

The responsibilities I’d had in Customer Service gave me the confidence to take on and run with this new role, and I think my Customer Service experience has definitely made me more effective. My role involves looking into customer accounts with unauthorised overdrafts, investigating why they’re in this situation and how we can protect customers from falling into such situations. It can sometimes be challenging as results are not always instant and it sometimes can feel a bit like a waiting game, however, I always remember that we exist because of our customers, and we decided to be different and genuinely challenge the banking industries. We want to be better than other banks, and part of that is always having our customers best interests in mind.

I’m very proud to have helped set the foundations for Customer Service and now Credit Operations. It’s so rare in your career that you can make such a direct impact on the growth of a business, and that’s what’s so brilliantly unique about Passport to Starling; you can start in Customer Service and end up somewhere altogether different – and all within a mere 12 months!

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