Café Banking: Q&A With Capital One’s Shannon Jones


Capital One cafe

Shannon Jones is the head of marketing for Capital One Cafés, a hybrid cafe/bank retail concept that is now rolling out across the US.

The description for the new customer experience: “We believe banking should fit your life. Not the other way around. It’s why we’re introducing Capital One Cafés in cities around the country. Our Cafés are inviting spaces where you can go to bank, get answers to your financial questions, recharge your devices, or simply connect with people. All with a handcrafted Peet’s® beverage and local pastry in hand.”

Shannon Jones / Capital OneJones (right) is uniquely qualified for her role. She’s been creating meaningful and engaging branding and marketing strategies and programs for over 20 years for companies including Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Discovery Channel Retail. Her twelve years with Starbucks included four years leading marketing and product teams across 27 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

She spoke with brandchannel editor-in-chief Shirley Brady.

How is Capital One redesigning the banking experience with the Café concept, and how is the strategy being brought to life?

At the heart of what we’re doing at Capital One is empowering people to feel confident about their relationship with their money so their money can fuel their purpose and fit their life. That means making things really simple and straightforward and creating an experience that fits naturally into the way they live.

We’re bringing it to life in our innovative products and digital tools, like our 360 Checking and Savings products with no fees and no minimums and our top-rated mobile app, and in our Capital One Cafés opening across the country.

Capital One cafe

What insights into changing customer behavior helped shape the Café design and concept?

We started this journey a few years ago talking to people about their money and we learned three key things:

• First, most of the time they are banking digitally. 60% of consumers use online banking, while among them 87% still want a place to go when they need in-person help.

• Second, people are stressed about money. Money is the #1 source of stress for Americans above work, family and health issues.

• Third, people told us they don’t know where to turn for advice. The internet is overwhelming and talking about the topic is often taboo.

Capital One cafe

What new type of employee is on-site and how do they interact with customers? 

Our cafés are the intersection of both the digital and physical worlds and our Café Ambassadors are there to help you solve your financial problems and reach your money goals.

People can recharge their bank accounts, devices and lives while learning new ways to manage their finances, try out new digital and financial tools, or simply grab a great cup of coffee or local pastry.

It's been just over a year since I moved to Boulder, CO and in that time I've worked out of many different coffee shops and bookstores. That's one of the things I really love about living here! The only thing though is that I could never find the right space to be productive. One coffee shop didn't have any A/C and I literally had sweat dripping down my legs — not conducive for being on the computer. Another one had an awesome vibe but the coffee was terrible. Today though, I found my space, thanks to @capitalone Cafe! As a Cap One customer I get Peet's coffee for 50% off too. The vibe was just right and I got a whole days worth of work done in 2 hours. Win-win! It's SO nice to have found a workspace so close to my apartment and one that fits my needs. Anyone else struggle to find a productive workspace outside your home office? How do you deal with that? #capitalonecafe #lifeofafreelancer

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When you enter the café, you are greeted by our Ambassadors sporting apparel curated by former Project Runway contestant Shirin Askari.

They sit down side by side with you on a comfortable sofa, order you a cup of coffee using an Apple iWatch and then help coach you through setting up an account, paying their bills online, applying for a credit card or whatever it is you need on an Apple computer or iPad.

The cafes are also a hub for our local communities to gather. Local nonprofits can book our Meeting Rooms for free and students can use our Nooks for studying.

Everyone is welcome to use our free Wi-Fi while enjoying a cup of coffee or local baked good from curated local vendors.

And you offer additional services like money coaches and workshops?

Our Money Coaching and Money Workshops are programs we’ve developed to help customers feel confident in their relationship with their money. They are open to everyone.

Money Coaching is a complimentary [three-session] program designed to connect your values to your money, get your money under control, plan a path for your future financial goals, and the confidence to make it happen. It’s like life coaching, but for your finances.

Money Workshops are a series of complimentary, 1-2 hour-long sessions offered at the cafes on topics like “How to Talk Money With Your Honey,” “How to Make Your Golden Years Shine Bright” and “Wise Wedding Planning.”

How are you making each café experience more interactive and engaging?

The Café is designed to continually give you new experiences each time you walk in—at the Demo Bar, on the Interactive Screens and through an ongoing program of events.

The Demo Bars serve as a hands-on place for customers to experience technology that can simplify their lives and help them succeed financially. They’ll interact with Amazon Echo’s Capital One skill or learn how CreditWise can provide them more than just a credit score, actually enable them to easily see their credit profile, track it and learn how to strengthen it.

So this was a novel experience cooling down at #capitalonecafe in #philadelphia: a #virtualtour of many travel destinations on my bucket list! Up close and personal videos, and I felt like a giant! Be careful if you have motionsickness like me, but it's a great way to see Lombard Street in San Fran, or the Moher cliffs in Ireland, or go skinny dipping in Austin! Also the café here is very friendly with their free #WiFi and cinnamon buns, teas and coffee (for purchase, discounted if you have use a Capital One card)! And I learned that their cards have no foreign transaction fees, so a good place to plan out the next destination on all fronts! If you're in the neighborhood of #rittenhouse, check their Facebook page to see when they have the virtual tour set up. *this post was not sponsored by them! #rightplacerighttime #phillyonfoot #peetscoffee #philadelphia #wanderings #singteachwritefly

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The Interactive Screens challenge your financial knowledge through various games that provide fun educational money content.

Ongoing events like our CapX Talks are designed to engage and empower our communities. They bring together local thought leaders and experts from varying backgrounds to discuss financial and tech topics.

My first #capitalonecafe site visit @rockwellgroup

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Does your Café network showcase other digital and mobile innovations that Capital One Labs is testing and rolling out, such as Alexa skills or chatbots?

We’ll be featuring Capital One innovations as part of programming at the interactive Demo Bar or via Workshops. For example, you can try out Capital One’s first-of-its kind skill for Amazon Alexa that allows people to manage their bank accounts using just their voice.

Additionally, as cafés are opening across the country, they’re becoming a place where teams across Capital One can engage with people, share their ideas and get real time feedback.

All of these elements add to the café’s dynamic environment, a cornerstone of our redesigned banking experience.

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