A True Partner

Most organizations pride themselves on how they help their customers. A select few go far beyond the rest. Umpqua Bank is a leader in those organizations that go far beyond the norm.

So how does Umpqua set itself apart? They focus on building community. Other banks say that; Umpqua does it in many unique ways that are valuable to its customers. Here are 5:

· They staff to have no lines. That means that in non-busy times, “tellers” are waiting customers. Actually, that’s almost always the case – no waiting at all. I’ve had accounts at other banks where lines were the norm.

· Want to take out a loan to buy a car? In other banks, you’d need to see a loan officer. And if that person is busy with another customer, you’ll be waiting a while. Umpqua cross-trains ALL its customer-facing employees. They’re not “tellers” – they’re “Universal Associates.” The difference? Each of them is trained to help you get that car loan – they’ll leave their station and take you into an adjacent meeting room to complete the paperwork in privacy. An Umpqua Universal Associate has the training and skills to be an assistant branch manager for any other bank.

· Umpqua is a place to relax a bit. Each “store” (they’re not “bank branches”) has PCs and a printer available for the public to use. They have easy chairs to sit in, and a selection of current magazines and papers, both financial and non-financial. Much more than just the typical cup of coffee. (Oh, and they have their own roasted coffee beans for customers as well.)

· They give back to the community – in spades! Each employee is encouraged to spend 40 hours/year on community service, such as helping at the local food bank, animal shelter, etc. – on company time, for pay! So when you walk into an Umpqua store, instead of the typical nameplate, you might see a hand-lettered sign saying where that associate volunteers. So far, they have donated more than 250,000 volunteer hours! At 2000 hours/year, that’s 125 volunteer years!

· Finally, some “stores” have meeting rooms available for use by the public, free. For a small business or non-profit, those meeting rooms are much better than the local Starbucks. They are closed, quiet, and private. (And Umpqua even provides free coffee!)

Using Umpqua as an inspiration, can you extrapolate how your organization could go the extra mile for your customers?

Gary Langenwalter

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