Do CX & Customer Service like Starling Bank

A key driver of brand growth is CX & Customer Service. Here I reveal how Starling Bank is able to achieve poll position in both these areas.
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Marketers love a great communication. It warms our consumer’s hearts, hits home the rationale benefit and gets them to act in the moment. It is undoubtedly engrained in our DNA.

However, marketers take heed of this famous quote, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating all your problems like a nail.”

To make matters worse when everybody around you also believes that the only tool you have is a hammer, it becomes even more self-perpetuating.

Now we know that not all problems are nails and not all tools are hammers. But in marketing, we tend to stick in our lane. If you look at the latest CMO Survey, the vast majority of our tasks as marketers fit into the communications remit.


Even the latest LinkedIn survey, as reported in Marketing Week, shows that Social Media is the number one in-demand skill in marketing.

Management, Digital Marketing, and Communication follow this. You must go at least halfway to see any other in-demand skills not directly related to ‘Communications’.

All other skills except the last, ‘Customer Service’, could well be in service of building communications. So you can see the work we do and how we are perceived.

What should be particularly alarming is that recent research from Kantar found that ‘Communications’ only accounted for around 25% of the drivers for building a strong brand. 75% of the drivers were the actual customer experience at various touch points they had with the brand.

So we marketers tend to grossly overestimate our primary tool’s impact on performance, relegating our actual powers of persuasion and effect to other areas.

This may, in fact, be a primary reason that we are losing legitimacy across the organisation as we are seen as the colouring-in department and the stats indicate that we keep it that way.

But not all brand see it this way.

Starling Bank


One in particular, Starling Bank, has achieved wide acclaim due to its emphasis on CX and customer service, as reported in Marketing Week. In a recent survey conducted by Ipsos, 81% of customers would recommend the bank to their friends and family.

Rather than invest in extensive TV campaigns, they opt to invest in customer services, which they believe sets them apart from the pack.

Emphasis on recruitment and training

They set the benchmark for recruits by looking for creativity and looking outside of banking to find the best talent. They also have an intensive but thorough two-week induction and onboarding process followed by four weeks at their academy. The training is front and centre of their approach.

Starling also recognises the intersection between online and offline service and regularly has meetings between their software engineers and customer service teams. This ideas exchange helps everyone stay on the same page and be joined up for their customers.


Investing in the customer experience and service design is paying dividends for the bank.

Marketing Week reports show that they have a new customer joining every 39 seconds, and 40% hear about the bank through word of mouth.

As the saying goes, WoM is the best form of marketing! All these contribute to the brand winning the Marketing Week Award for Customer Experience Excellence.

So it shows that we as marketers are missing a beat but not prioritising other areas of the marketing mix. So isn’t it time to get out of our lane and start being a little more Starling!?

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