Tag Archives: umpqua bank

5 exceptional financial services customer experience examples

CX award winnweThis summer saw the UK’s first Financial Services Customer Experience awards (that’s me on the right with the winning Direct Line team). It was a great day with a few brands taking the lead now. Nationwide, Direct Line and Standard Life picked up more than one gong. With some smaller players demonstrating that you don’t need a big budget to deliver stand out customer service.

We were there to partner the occasion. We judged, we awarded prizes, we also provided the key-note speaker and we had a ball. So I am sure the 2016 finalists line up will be even more hotly contested.

It will also be interesting to see if the winners can continue to turn their famous winning experiences in to even more profitable outcomes for their shareholders (or members in Nationwide’s case), by obtaining more share of their contented customer’s wallet.

The financial service sector has woken up to Customer Experience. With that in mind, here are 5 great customer experiences. We’ve highlighted some which are unique and some which are well used. We hope they provide inspiration either way.

Umpqua Bank’s night time antics

umpqua.png2This American retail bank, with a growing network of branches is bucking the trend. They are locally focused so they’ve introduced a range of ways to embed themselves in the community. Which is all part of their positioning as a community bank. One of the ideas is the ‘hand the keys over’ initiative. When evening falls the branch is closed so the branch is a dead space. Space is much sort after by community groups, so members of the local community can hire the open areas of the branch for social activities such as Pilates and book readings – thereby helping the community out by making more of their underutilised assets.

Sun Life Direct making life easier when it’s painful enough 

sun life directFamous for the over 50’s life insurance (mainly bought for funeral planning) product, 98% of new policy holders state they are happy with the service they get when the plan is taken out.

However, following the death of the policy holder, when a relative claims for a payout is when the brand must really deliver. It used to take a few weeks to get a payout because of the pieces of information and documentation expected.

The irony being that the account holder was often buried before funds which they’d put premiums into the plan for, were released. So the very purpose of the plan was therefore not delivered upon! A basic fail.

Sun Life decided to challenge this with a ‘we take the risk’ approach. It reduced the requirement at claims to one number being needed. With this agreed at Sun Life payouts happen in days now and relatives have less to worry about.

Such is the impact of this idea I’ve since seen it win awards for a different brand, so it clearly has meaning and motivation.

First Direct pay customers for leaving

First Direct buck the trend by not only offering customers an incentive to open a current account, but so confident are they that the experience received once customers join or switch will meet customer’s expectations, they offer the same again for them to leave!

first directThe First Direct Service Guarantee states, “We’ll pay £100 per customer or joint relationship if you close your Account within 12 months of opening it <small print>. We’ll pay the £100 into your account prior to its closure. All accounts with First Direct have to be closed and your 1st Account transferred to another bank/building society.”

I’ve held an account with First Direct (among others) for many years. I can vouch for the thread of steel holding all experience touch points together, across products, across time.  This individual acknowledgement is backed up by several reputable studies and awards in customer service and experience including uSwitch and UKCSI.

Becu bank closing for good!

becu closed for goodThe American retail bank makes a commitment to the communities it serves which is authenticated through every aspect of the business delivery. It’s clearly an authentic focus for them. As their website states; PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST | MAKING OUR COMMUNITY A PLACE TO PUT DOWN ROOTS. As a consultancy which preaches a customer first philosophy (allowing profits to follow) we really connect with Becu. We are a fan and follower of their progress.

Their community commitment is evidenced through several initiatives; people helper rewards, environmental stewardship, financial empowerment partnerships, foundation scholarships and ‘Closed for Good’. These are great experiences for customers, employees and the community to enjoy who see Becu as a bank which cares for its community. It also helps employees understand the importance of community which ensures it is then evidenced through every other touch point.

‘Closed for Good’ is an initiative run on October 20th this year. It entails the bank closing until 1pm and every employee identifying where financial support will be beneficial and sharing their expertise with groups in the community. Is this the business model being delivered or marketing? Either way it ensures customers and prospects experience first hand or through the inevitable word of mouth, that Becu care about those they help. This delivers that rarest of commodities for banks; trust.

AIB’s digital transition lab

aib3There is efficiency in migrating customers to digital interactions with their bank – both for the bank and for the customer. Preemptive marketing which can help customers keep one step ahead of decisions is a good example of where banks can provide customer relationship updates via a digital platform. Click on the pic for a virtual tour of the AIB LAB.

Allied Irish Bank recognised that whilst this is a commercial ambition for the bank, customers benefit from it too. Customer adoption will take longer to move from the ‘comfortable and not broken’ to the new world of digital banking. With that in mind they have created a ‘digital transition’ store in Dundrum Town, Ireland which has no sales agenda but a hand holding experience for customers to trial new platforms and ask questions. According to AIB it’s “designed to deliver an exceptional customer experience through digital self-service.

The award-winning enterprise is making the retail assets move from sales to education to and the support creates a new experience perception of the bank whilst encouraging in a passive and comfortable way customers to trial and adopt new banking platforms. It also presents a future impression of the bank’s image through this experience enhancing activation.

If you’ve enjoyed this article other ‘5 exceptional experiences’ posts cover airlines, how to have fun with CX, hotels and automotive. Click on any to link straight through.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director, Lexden

Lexden has a proven track record in delivering Customer Experience Strategy and Management to clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 

For further information on how we can help with your customer challenges contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

Unordinary Thinking No. 46 – keep the lights on when everyone’s left the building

Offices, banks, shops, libraries and sports halls all have one thing in common; when they’ve served their intended purpose and visitors leave, the shift ends, the lights are switched off and the doors are locked. This is typical practice and environmentally sound in most cases too. But could an equally important contribution to society be made if you keep the premise open even when you’ve headed home?

Applying this unordinary thought in a very ordinary way means letting others make more of what you’ve got. Read on to discover three very different examples of what can be achieved when you think beyond the end of your shift.

Be upstanding please

emily barker2Okay, so churches don’t actually shut but the venue can wind down when the parishioners are not in attendance. Or do they? A couple of weeks ago I was watching one of my favourite bands; Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo. It was an emotional night being one of the last gigs for the North American folk sounding band before they split. The ticket stated the venue was on 197 Piccadilly, London. I couldn’t recall a concert hall there. When I arrived I discovered it was in fact St James’s Church, Piccadilly. Their music is not religiously intended and their subjects cross a boundary that some regular parishioners may feel at odds with. But as a venue with atmospheric up-lighting and acoustics bouncing around the dome, for the 400 of us jammed it came alive.

I spoke to a couple of the volunteers who explained this is an idea for raising funds beyond the conventional approach. Their venue has dwindling audiences and is expensive to upkeep. Where as bands have a great following prepared to pay handsomely to see them. By leaving the lights on, the Church attracts a new paying audience and the band has a memorable venue to play in.

Taking a rain check on skateboarding

Earlier this year I watched Ida Auken, the former Minister for the Environment in Denmark, impressively present at TEDx Houses of Parliament. She recalled a great example of a project she was involved in regarding optimising neglected space in Denmark. The area of Roskilde suffered from increasing levels of rainwater causing flooding to the neighbouring towns. But rather than a standard drainage project being commissioned, Danish architect Soren Nordal Enevoldsen, famed for skateparks, was invited to tackle the problem.

skate park2Enevoldsen and his company, Nordarch, designed a concrete area with graduating slopes that collected and transported the water into a canal. They also ingeniously transformed the 24,000-square-foot drainage facility from a potential public infrastructure eyesore into a multi-functional recreation area by shaping the water collecting bowls with half-pipes and grinding edges for skateboarding. Now the Rabalder Park project has become a gathering place for both rainwater and skateboarding enthusiasts.

The odd couple: banking & yoga

Umpqua Bank has 364 branches spread across Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Idaho and it’s growing. They are bucking the trend of retail banking by profitably opening branches when others are heading for a digital relationship. That’s not the area  of unordinary thinking they apply.

yoga umpquaFor instance they open their doors when the branch stops its regular trading. Along with yoga they organise virtual bowling on the big screens for seniors, art exhibitions and even ‘stitch and bitch’ sessions for local resident groups. These out-of-hours sessions are helping them to connect with their customers and prospects beyond banking. It’s also giving those attending an opportunity to see their bank is as much a part of the community as they are. Will it catch on? With $22 billion in assets to date, perhaps truly customer-led thinking is a strategy more banks should consider.

So the next time you are about to clock off and leave your work place, have an unordinary consideration about who else could be optimising your space when you are not there. It might just be the making of your business.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the heart of the decision 

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experiences and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to ‘Putting Customers First’  for fresh insights. Or for further information contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client case studies at www.lexdengroup.com