Umpqua – “The World’s Greatest Bank”

March 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Umpqua is a regional bank that is headquartered in Portland, Oregon with locations in Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. Umpqua has seen rapid growth by focusing on two things that banks are notoriously bad at, brand building and customer experience.

They have carefully designed their branch experience to delight customers. Branches are referred to as stores. Their stores are considered destinations where a customer can not only handle banking needs but also take a few minutes or more to just hang out or spend some time learning about financial products and services.

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Umpqua’s approach is unique in the banking industry. Their success starts with a leadership team that creates a culture that fosters employee ownership of each and every experience that a customer has with its brand. Associates are empowered to identify a need, make a decision and take action to deliver extraordinary experiences. Umpqua hires people who are great at service and who love to interact with people. They figure they can train on banking and product knowledge. The company has been recognized for the past six years in a row on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the country’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and was recently named by The Portland Business Journal, for the eighth consecutive year, Most Admired Financial Services Company in Oregon, and the state’s fifth-most admired company overall for 2012.

Umpqua has also designed a compelling environment that appeals to the five senses. In Umpqua’s case, its branches evoke the spirit of a sleek hangout space, more like Starbucks or an art gallery than the neighborhood savings and loan. During and after hours, the well designed branches host community activities as well as banking activities. There are book clubs, movie nights and neighborhood meetings.

Umpqua has changed the conversation with customers and the community to make itself interesting in a world where most banks are boring. They have  become a lifestyle brand in an industry sorely devoid of passion. They are a leader in delivering a great customer experience.

There is a sign in every bank that reads “Welcome to the World’s Greatest Bank”. This not a tagline it is a state of mind. Their corporate manifesto reads as follows:
  • It’s a promise to do better than anyone expects of us today, then do it even better tomorrow.
  • It’s a belief in doing good, not just doing well.
  • Its treating every customer as if you’ve known them your entire life.
  • Its connecting people to their community, connecting neighbors to neighbors, and local, independent businesses to local customers and resources
  • It’s constantly surprising the world with what a bank can be and how a bank can actually be part of a customer’s life.
  • It’s equal part checking account and knitting club, commercial loan and music source, IRA and Internet cafe.
  • It’s understanding our customer’s financial needs and at the same time realizing that there’s more to life than money.

Can you think of another bank that delivers a great customer experience?


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