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Differentiate and Grow through Customer Experience

Posted on June 20, 2012 , by Steve Bernstein
CATEGORIES: Case Examples

Day 2 of the CXPA Insight Exchange was opened by Ray Davis, President and CEO UMPQUA Bank.  Ray seems to be no ordinary CEO, and UMPQUA is no ordinary bank.
UMPQUA’s biggest challenges were to differentiate, determine work out how to get people in to stores – one of the best opportunities to engage customers and sell – and create a compelling value proposition that was truly differentiated.  Especially as more and more interactions go online, banks need to work out what to do with all their real estate.

Can you believe this is a bank?

Can you believe this is a bank?

While their competition thinks like a bank, UMPQUA doesn’t.  Since UMPQUA didn’t have the resources of the big banks they decided to learn from firms like Starbucks, Disney, Nordstrom, and Ritz Carlton to deliver a differentiated experience. Stores are designed to be fun environments that don’t look at all like a bank, and there is an emphasis on technology that helps make it fun and educational.  They also use the facility as “community centers” and even hold Wii Bowling events in the middle of the work day!  But the key isn’t a “fancy store” – it’s more about how the store is operated.
On the “people” side UMPQUA has some practices that are unique to the banking world.  For example, they don’t have “tellers” and instead have Universal associates that are experts on everything in the store.  Ray describes the culture as empowerment and gives accountability to the front line.  Incorporated into the environment of high expectations and “tough love,” Ray instructs employees to call him directly if they are ever criticized for doing something they think is right, and he commits to following up.  And critically, culture doesn’t end at the front line and is extended into all the bank’s operations.
Ray told a story about how a front-line employee used some of their “recognition” funds to send a bouquet with a personalized letter to a customer that had lost their dog.  Employees don’t need to get approval, and they trust (with some oversight) that the funds are used as intended (and Ray says they are).
It’s not all fun and games – expectations are high, teams are measured, and low performers are coached to improve or quickly removed.  One metric Ray highlighted is their “Return on Quality” (RoQ) score, which is an index that combines customer feedback with sales, and the metric rewards both individual and team performance.  Stores are stack-ranked, and any store that is in the bottom-third for a few quarters better have a plan to improve.
I could go on and on with stories (team “motivational moments” sessions), but I think a link to Ray’s book is probably most appropriate.
Ray’s only regret?  Do it faster.  Ray says, “You are even building the business or killing it.  There’s no in-between.”