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If You Shed Legacy Industry Practices – What Could you Become? Part 2

Editor’s note: This is part two of If You Shed Legacy Industry Practices – What Could you Become? Part. 2. To read part 1, click here.

Umpqua Bank Decided to Get Rid of the Ropes.
We’ve all stood in that bank line. Walking between two ropes that force us into a single-file lane, we shuffle slowly, waiting our turn, with nothing to do but watch the person at the counter, look at our watches and wait for it all to be over. And if there’s a request that the teller can’t handle, there’s another line and more shuffling.

Well, they got rid of those ropes and the lines at Umpqua Bank. As part of Umpqua’s metamorphosis from “bank” to “store,” led by CEO Ray Davis, they shed the ropes and most standard banking practices to get rid of the feeling that banking was a chore.

Umpqua Bank has a quirky, lighthearted nature for a financial services company, perhaps because they started with the simple goal to help loggers and farmers with their banking. But despite their heartfelt purpose of being “the loggers’ bank,” customer experiences prior to 1994 were not consistently strong. Service levels varied from one day to the next, from one teller to the next. I call this “biorhythmic” service, in which customer experiences vary by service provider and by what kind of day he or she is having.

Observing Umpqua’s lack of a clear customer-service approach, Davis decided to make a change. In a move away from traditional banking, he renamed Umpqua locations “stores.” In redesigned “stores,” “shoppers” could browse products and services, stay as long as they wanted, sit a spell with their legs up on a comfy chair and sip a cup of coffee. And when they were ready, they could tap an Umpqua associate to help them with their banking needs – all without the red ropes.

At Umpqua, customers are not herded into a line for service and they don’t have to stand in separate lines to get different services. Dedicated associates assist each customer from start to finish.

Decide with Clarity to Shed Old Industry Practices
“Umpqua Bank is part Internet café, part community center and part bank. The coffee’s good and it’s not a bad place to sit and read a book.” By shedding old industry practices and warming up and humanizing the experience of banking, Umpqua draws customers to them. Through transforming banking into an enjoyable shopping experience, its original five branches from 1994 are now part of a bank network of over 148 “stores,” across two states with more than $8.6 billion in assets.

Action Ideas:

  • Do you have your own version of banking lines that you make customers shuffle through to get help from you?
  • For example, how do you make customers “queue” for service?
  • Is this your version of those “red ropes?”

In old fashioned banking we feel like a number. If we get in the wrong line, we have to start from scratch with a new teller – do you make the customer push the restart button because they are passed off from one person to another?

Like Umpqua – can you create a welcoming process that embraces customers and gets rid of those processes that make them feel like they should be glad to finally reach you?


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