What unboxing a Revolut card taught me about customer experience

Think of the last time you received a card from your bank. Did that excite you? Make you smile? I highly doubt it. As a tech consultant with experience working on customer communications for a large financial institution, I know this experience all too well. The customer journey for receiving a card works something like this:

Receive boring letter from your bank → Open said boring letter → Read (or probably not read) the largely useless contents of the letter → Remove your new card → Find your Pin Number → Throw the letter away → Activate your new card at some point in the future.

Basic, straightforward, functional. A relatively straightforward process that hasn’t really needed to be reimagined or re-engineered in any way, and to be honest, I’ve never really felt that the process was broken, it serves its purpose. But as they say, just because it ain’t broke, doesn’t mean you can’t fix it.

I’m a sucker for a clean, well thought out and innovative customer experience, which isn’t always something you get from interactons with legacy financial intitutions. As a bank, there’s incentive to deliver as much value as possible through the core banking activities. You want customers to have the best experience getting your loans, credit cards, mortgages, insurance etc. The higher up the value chain you go, the better and more personalised these customer experiences get. However, I don’t believe great customer experience should be reserved for the few, it should be democratised.

Recently, legacy banks have had to invest in a strong digital strategy to make sure they stay competitive with the neo-banks such as Revolut, Monzo and Starling. However, a big difference between these two parties is that neo-banks have the advantage of not being held hostage by hundreds of years worth of legacy and out-of-touch customer experiences. They can re-imagine what it means to be a bank from the ground up. This leads us to the focus of this article, Revolut.

I hesitated to get a Revolut account for a while I must admit. I didn’t really trust the brand and I saw no real issue with my regular, leagcy bank which I had been banking with for years. However, one day I decided to download the Revolut app and see what this neo-bank business is about, and I was blown away.

I was blown away by the user experience of the app, the seamlessness and the speed at which I was onboarded. I remember thinking I had never enjoyed the process of opening a bank account; is this experience meant to be enjoyable or am I just being bamboozled by novelty bias. My virtual card was instantly available which was super cool because I had never used a virtual card before, but I felt incomplete without a physical card. Since Revolut allows you to order one for free, I did, and all my expectations were blown away.

I won’t describe in detail what it’s like to open a revolut card, just watch the video and let me know what you think in the comments. Compared to the customer experience journey receiving your card, Revolut’s customer journey works something like this:

Receive Card → Get confused by why the package is so nice → Get even more confused by why I can’t seem to open said package → Figure out how to open pack → simultaneously get confused and impressed by the counterintuitive way the card slides out → Remove Card → Activate Card → Keep package as inspiration for this think-piece.

Just like Apple fans who keep the boxes of their brand new MacBooks and iPhones, Beats lovers who keep the packaging of their Studio’s and Solo’s, and sneakerheads who know the resale value of their Infrared 6’s and Bred 4’s will fall significantly if they throw away the shoebox, I felt compelled to keep Revolut’s card pack for the same reason; it was cool af.

What really impressed me was Revolut’s ability to deeply understand that customer experience doesn’t just start and end at their app’s UI, but encompasses every, single, touchpoint; a fully holistic user experience. Regardless of their status as a fully digital bank with no physical presence, Revult recognises that ensuring amazing user experience extends to the real world too. What’s interesting is that Revolut does't need to do this, they could simply have followed industry standard and stuck the card to a letter (it would have probably been cheaper too). The fact they do however, shows they’re cut from the different cloth, and why their brand will always stand out. This is a lesson I believe everyone building a product or brand should leverage.