BANKING ON EMPLOYEES
Umpqua Holdings Corp. is a bank that also considers itself a lifestyle retailer; President Bill Fike refers to the bank as “a marketing company that plays in the financial services arena.” Umpqua is similar to shoe e-tailer Zappos in a lot of ways; for starters, Umpqua calls itself a customer-service company first and a retailer second. And like Zappos, the bank considers its culture to be its key differentiator.
Umpqua’s branches, or stores, are furnished with large, comfy couches and offer Umpqua-branded coffee, free Internet access, mix CDs, and a chocolate coin served on a silver platter after every transaction. They also provide an experiential space for community events like movie nights, yoga classes, and concerts for local bands. The bank even has its own Discover Local Music Program, which highlights up-and-coming artists in the bank’s region.
This dramatic shift in operations for the bank—founded in 1953—happened in 1994, when it conceived a profoundly unique (or is that umpnique?) core service and differentiation strategy, that of delivering outstanding customer service. The minute this shift was approved, the company began to aggressively expand its vision and horizons from banking to the hospitality business.
Customer Experience and Word of Mouth Are Referential
In 2003, Umpqua CEO Ray Davis selected seven bank associates to stay at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton to observe and ultimately implement what they learned during their time at ...