On the first Sunday in March 2017, Monzo, a digital bank that’s forgoing brick-and-mortar branches for the convenience of people’s smartphones, suffered a rare outage. One of their critical software suppliers had gone down, which meant customers couldn’t use their prepaid cards. The fintech’s employees, no matter where or how they were spending their weekends, rushed online to help.
Headquartered in London, Monzo has more than 600 employees striving to simplify the banking experience for its 1.3 million customers. During incidents to Monzo’s systems like this, the bank relies heavily on the power of channel-based communication in Slack to connect key teams and coordinate its response. It was no different on that day March.
Their #outages-discussion channel served as the central hub for all internal communications around the incident. That included updates from the engineers on the source, status, and expected resolution time; managing social media responses; putting together a push notification explaining the situation to all customers and warning them to carry a different card; and updates to Monzo’s status page.
Thanks to Slack, Monzo was able to coordinate real-time work across the entire company and keep the public up to date with its efforts. Because of how the bank handled the incident, it received a flood of appreciative messages from customers and largely positive media coverage. What could easily have ended in a customer backlash had the opposite effect: Not only did the outage have no detrimental impact on Monzo’s growth, but the company actually saw a spike afterward in new-customer sign-ups.
“We were amazed by how well the incident was received by our customers,” says William Stolerman, Business Operations at Monzo. “It was a direct result of how the whole company was able to quickly come together to manage the situation via Slack.”
Where work happens at Monzo
To ensure that campaigns and initiatives are executed quickly and cross-functionally, Monzo has more than 1,100 public channels in Slack. They range from dedicated team-and function-based channels to much larger company-specific ones, including:
- #COObrain: a space where the bank’s COO shares his ideas as early as possible to get instant feedback well before they become new initiatives
- #Proposals: where formal ideas are shared for cross-company collaboration
- #Donuts: a channel promoting cybersecurity awareness. People buy doughnuts for the rest of the team if a colleague manages to access his or her Slack account through an unlocked laptop and post a message in this channel
“One of our core operating principles is to ‘default to transparency’,” says Stolerman. “That would be much tougher to live by without Slack, because it’s so easy to work in public channels.”