Life in our latest Lounge

Life in a Lounge

Following the 2011 launch of our innovative Lounges – spaces where customers can come together and relax over a complimentary coffee – we recently added another ground-breaking concept to high street banking: a Lounge with banking facilities, where customers can pop in to sort out financial matters at the same time. We spoke to Paul Adamson (pictured above fourth from left), manager of the Glasgow Lounge, to find out what life is like there for customers and colleagues.

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Paul, tell us how you and your team came to work in the Lounge

Our Glasgow building street viewI’ve worked for Virgin Money since December 2012 and have been based in Glasgow since a few months before the July 2014 opening of this flagship Lounge. My aim here is to ensure we provide our customers with an enjoyable experience that means they want to bank with us.

Of the 16 of us who work here, the 12 of us who have joined since we’ve been Virgin Money were all attracted by the company’s reputation. For me, Sir Richard Branson’s innovative and forward-thinking approach was a big draw.

How does the Lounge experience differ from the approach of other banks?

Virgin lounge interior

Whereas many banks have a sales focused environment, at Virgin Money we focus on the experience we’re providing and what’s right for the customers. The Lounge concept brings that to life.

It means working here is very different from other high street banks, as I did previously. As a result, for example, I recruit differently – from industries including entertainment and hospitality (as well as banking), to ensure we have a strong team with diverse skills to provide the best customer experience.

In fact one of the main things people are surprised to learn about is that no one works solely in the Store (banking) area or the Lounge area. We all have hybrid roles. One day a colleague can be helping a customer use one of the iMacs that are available in the Lounge area, and the next discussing with another customer how our products can help protect what’s important to them. It certainly makes for an interesting and rewarding job as we can really get to know our customers rather than just processing transactions for them.

Most customers who visit us to buy a financial product or make a transaction also stay for a coffee – I think they often see the Lounge as a haven in the busy city. However, many also simply come in to enjoy the papers or surf the web on the iMacs and iPads in our library area. Others come with family and friends and enjoy a good catch-up over a drink and biscuit. We’re spread over two floors, with Lounge and Store (banking) areas on the ground floor and the first floor dedicated to Lounge space.

We collect customer feedback in a visitor book and recently one even wrote this poem (on the right) about their experience with us, which I think sums the Lounge up nicely.

Another way we’re different is that we’re open longer hours – until 7pm on Thursdays, 9am-4.30pm on Saturdays and 11am-4pm on Sundays, so people are able to more easily pop in and do their banking over the weekend. At first we were relatively quiet at weekends but we’re now getting busier as more people become aware of our opening hours.

We’re starting to run events, too, such as a forthcoming one for local charities to help them understand the benefits of Virgin Money Giving, our not-for-profit fundraising site, and will be doing more community activities in the future.

The fact that we’re so different brings a pressure to ensure we deliver on expectations, but the confidence we get from the plentiful positive feedback offsets that. There’s definitely pride among our team in being part of such a flagship Lounge.

How would you summarise working here?

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Two years on, being part of Virgin Money is everything I imagined and more – it’s not just customers who are looked after, it’s colleagues too. We all have a voice and are able to shape things, drawing experience from the various roles we’ve had previously.

The approach of a Lounge with banking facilities definitely seems to be proving popular. Already, in the first few months since we opened, hundreds of people have become Lounge members, and hundreds more have opened accounts with us. Our savings accounts have proven particularly popular.

We know we’re seen as an industry leader among our competitors as well as our customers. The manager of another bank visited recently and then sent all his colleagues, one by one, for them to watch how we deal with customers! It’s thrilling being at the forefront of industry change and we’re all so proud to be pioneers.

About our Lounges

First opened in 2011, our Lounges are about more than money and banking – they are designed to be places where our customers can relax and local communities can come together.

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They are all part of our ambition to be a very different kind of bank – one that makes everyone better off.

Lounge membership is completely free, and so are the refreshments, wi-fi and use of our iPads and iMacs. You are welcome to bring a friend or family member in with you.

We currently have Lounges in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Norwich and are planning to open more in 2015.

Find out more about our Lounges and their locations.

Become a Lounge member