Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team?
It’s an interview question that still makes me cringe. Mostly because I was asked it once, a long time ago. My mind went blank. I froze. And then I mumbled something about that time I worked with Jane from Marketing.*
Thankfully, we go for much more interesting interview questions here at Nous. And after our most recent collaboration for Budget Day, if I am ever asked it again, I’m armed with an extraordinarily good answer. It begins just a few days before Jeremy Hunt was due to announce his Spring Budget.
Countdown to Spring Budget Day
One part of our mission at Nous is to help people get wise to the cost-of-living crisis. We’re using tech and brainpower to show them how they’ll be personally affected, break down jargon, and call out any crafty comms used by big-name providers. The upcoming Budget was our next opportunity to help.
Budget announcements are long and confusing to most people. They’re also full of positive-spin policies and tend to skip over anything that might be bad (but important) news to people. Budgets also naturally focus on the macro. Announcements deal in billions, broad demographics and speak about the impact in averages and typical households.
But at Nous we’re well aware that every household is different. What people really need is someone to process and sum it all up in plain terms. And the ultimate win would be to answer a simple question – would they be better or worse off as a result?
Solving for people
So we built this. A simple tool that tells you exactly how the Chancellor’s Spring Budget impacts you and your household finances over the next 12 months.
We’d been keeping a close eye on the media, tracking what might or might not be announced. A lot had been leaked. But there were still a lot of open questions. What would happen to the Energy Price Guarantee? Would we see big changes to pensions? And the big one: how would households across the country be impacted?
The irony of creating simple tools is that they are never simple to create. Gathered around the office TV (AKA the Beast), powered by Papa John’s and those delicious choc-chip cookies from Tesco, our Product Designers honed a UX that was sleek and easy to use, our writers explained complicated topics in language people could actually understand, our analysts crunched the numbers and our engineers made it all work.
There’s a time and a place for bragging. And that time is now. Because we made a tool that was prettier, better, and more useful than anyone else. Oh — and we did it the fastest.
Within an hour of Jeremy Hunt making his announcement, we had released a fully functioning Budget tool.
The Mail Online thought it was so good they used it in their headline story on the Spring Budget – and it quickly rose to the top article on their homepage. People were obviously intrigued to find out whether they were better or worse off after the budget announcement, as within the first few hours it was used more than half a million times.
Watching our traffic numbers hit 1K, 10K, 100K and then hundreds of thousands was a special moment for our team. My favourite part was hearing the engineers cheering as our numbers outpaced anything we’ve ever seen before at Nous. A glimpse of the future, I’m sure.
And that’s not all we had spinning. Alongside the creative chaos of creating a tool that could completely change depending on what the Chancellor announced, our CEO Greg was presenting Nous analysis on Sky News, live. In parallel, we’d also been preparing for that.
Prior to budget day we’d been in contact with three people from the North of England: Lianne, Mike and Linda. Each of their households had very different home and financial situations. Lianne was a personal trainer with a young child, Mike was fairly well off and nearing retirement, and Linda was a pensioner who regularly looked after her grandchild.
With the help of Sky News and our CEO-cum-TV presenter, we were able to share their stories and demonstrate how the Spring Budget impacted each household differently.
As well as the huge number of people watching Sky live, Greg’s appearance amassed over 150K views on Youtube, another 57K views on TikTok and 40K on Twitter. Absolutely incredible exposure for a brand of our size.
Later that evening, still being cheered on and supported from the office, Greg was on a panel with the incredible Gemma Godfrey to answer questions from Sky callers. A variety of people called in with questions about pensions, benefits, energy, and tax.
Greg and Gemma answered their questions with ease (with some credit going to the secret helpers who were WhatsApping Greg with recently announced stats and figures).
When I asked Glen, our COO what his favourite thing about budget day was he simply replied “It was our biggest day at Nous, and I had very little involvement – you guys just had it all covered”
Lydia, our Head of Service Design echoed this with her ever cheery slack message:
Well done to everyone involved – that was definitely an exemplary day of teamwork.
No-one should be dealing with the cost-of-living crisis all alone. We’re building a new service to liberate households from drudgery and make people’s lives simpler and fairer.