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Posted: October 24th, 2011 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: The Business of Business | No Comments »
Exemplary customer service, often discussed but rarely mastered, the lack of which costs business owners countless dollars in terms of lost customers, abandoned prospects and a tarnished reputation. Interestingly enough, even in our challenging economic times, the lack of even minimal customer service standards continues to get worse. Customer service transcends the entire buying experience with one fatal mistake costing the business the sale and all future sales. Let me share a true story.
Recently, I responded to a very professionally designed postcard advertising a “free estimate” for lawn, shrub and tree fertilization. My current provider is just “okay” and really has not done much to build a lasting relationship. We’ve all been there. The “take-it-for-granted” account. So, like any other consumer, I responed to this “free estimate” with a promised dollar discount for the service if I switched. They provided a very comprehensive and professional analysis with recommendations to protect my “lawn, tree and shrubbery” investment. This prompted me to contact the company and spoke directly with the owner. To my surprise, the owner sounded harried, rushing me through the components of the bid and while talking to me, asked if I would not mind holding so he could answer another call. He came back on the phone, apologetic and describing how it was a “Monday”. What became readily apparent was simply my call was no longer of importance which spoke volumes about an inadequate plan in place to handle customer/prospect responses to their “free-estimate” and promised discount.
This episode is not isolated. It is repeated literally thousands of times daily. What owners/managers consistently fail to recognize is that delivering superior customer service on a consistent basis is hard work and requires discipline to accomplish. There must be a company-wide commitment that insists on near perfection in delivering service to customers and prospective customers. In the case of this lawn/tree care company, the owner himself failed to master four minimum customer/prospect expectations:
* To be treated with respect and not an interruption
* Friendly, courteous and attentive
* Deliver per advertised and on time
While the events of this story are true, two basic “Laws of Teamwork” were violated. The “Law of Mount Everest” which simply states that as the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates; and, “The Law of the Chain”, meaning, the strength of the team can be negatively impacted by the weakest link. The owner should have provided for proper staffing to support the “free estimate with discount” promotion…and, the owner showed that interruptions was a cultural acceptance…the owner himself then the weakest link.
As service providers we must always be reminded of Economics 101: Capital goes where it is wanted and appreciated”. How quickly we can forget that as business owners, our customers are our capital.
Posted: June 24th, 2011 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Community Involvement, Other News and Updates | No Comments »
“Sometimes it takes a grass-roots effort to identify and work together to meet a community need,” said Dave Wood, president and CEO of Willamette Community Bank in Albany and a director on the Albany General Hospital Foundation Board of Directors.
“That is just what is happening with Evergreen Hospice House,” he explained. “Like building a barn, it’s something that is needed so everybody chips in and does their part.”
Wood corralled local financial institutions together for a special meeting and helped present the hospice house as the kind of community project that benefits the entire region. “It’s an endearing project that will provide vital services to patients and families,” he said.
Financial leaders have joined together and agreed to support the hospice house campaign with pledges in support of a public family space within the new hospice facility. The idea was to harness the financial resources to support the hospice house development and provide the seed money to see it to fruition, according to Wood.
“Willamette Community Bank took a leadership role and motivated others to share the cost,” said Kim Sass, Albany General Hospital Foundation director. Willamette Community Bank was the first financial institution to formally support the campaign.
The bank’s employees and customers can now see a banner showing support for the hospice house at its facility at 333 Lyons Street in Albany. “We are grateful for their support, and we hope their enthusiasm will spread to encourage others to get involved,” said Sass.
“We all have friends, employees and neighbors who have been touched by hospice,” said Wood. “And, a house where patients can go for round-the-clock hospice care is a nugget of goodness that surely makes all of us want to embrace it.”
Wood said he would like to let businesses throughout the region know that this is the time to consider donating time, talent and treasures to the hospice house because it will leave a legacy far beyond our lifetimes.
Financial institutions “raise the
barn” for hospice
The current list includes:
• Central Willamette Community Credit Union
• Citizens Bank, West Albany branch
• Linn-Co Federal Credit Union
• Northwest Farm Credit Services
• OSU Federal Credit Union
• US Bank
• Willamette Community Bank
Dave Wood, CEO Willamette Community Bank
Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Business Banking, Community Involvement | No Comments »
Equipped with business plans in hand, Calapooia Middle School students recently set out on a journey to Willamette Community Bank to talk money with Dave Wood and other bankers. Read about their experience in the article below.
Posted: November 15th, 2010 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Business Banking, The Business of Business | No Comments »
Most of us have watched episodes of the top-rated television program, ER. Dr. Carter known as kind and caring. Dr. Benton is brusque but brilliant. The empathetic Carter listens; the impatient Benton dismisses. Carter purrs; Benton grunts. In business, as viewed by clients or prospects, which one describes you?
My contention is this. Bedside manners equally apply to all of us in business. Either we develop a business bedside manner that exudes confidence and a calm, or in the case of Dr. Benton, just the opposite effect. Like physicians talking with patients, we must explain, direct and lead but be prepared to hold hands through frustrating and even painful situations. If we do not, we conspicuously set in motion all the elements that drive our customers and prospects away i.e., they are not heard, wishes are ignored, a lack of understanding concerns, being discourteous, disrespectful or dismissive.
The small amount of time required to ensure that basic business etiquette is observed will be far cheaper than the costly time and expense required to replace customers who have defected…remember always, capital goes where it is wanted and appreciated, and in business, our Capital is our Customers.
So, here are the basics in “business” bedside manners:
- Consultative – Be a good listener, non-judgmental, avoid personal remarks and provide information that the customer or prospect understands.
- Needs Diagnosis – Explain why and what the diagnosis entails.
- Treatment Plans – Explain the plan, tentative timetable and full cost to support the prognosis, listen to concerns and be prepared to negotiate time frames and alternatives.
- Communicate – Make a follow-up phone call and with that call project a smile, sense of caring and friendship. Our cyber-obsessed world does everything to defeat human interaction.
It goes without saying, business owners who form a warm and friendly relationship with their customers are found to be more effective and successful then those business owners who tend to be more impersonal, formal or uncertain. Good business bedside manners are the cornerstone of customer relationships…and starts at the top of the organization.
Posted: November 12th, 2010 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Community Involvement, Other News and Updates | No Comments »
THE FINAL INSPECTION – AUTHOR UNKNOWN
The Soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
Step forward now, Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?’
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
Step forward now, you Soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.’
Posted: October 28th, 2010 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Business Banking, The Business of Business | No Comments »
Banks and Small Business Lending – October 24, 2010
What banks are you referring too when you state that banks are not lending? Interesting question. Since September 30, 2008 to September 30, 2010, Willamette Community Bank’s loan portfolio has grown 41%. Loans for cars, trucks, working capital, equipment, commercial real estate, residential mortgages, home equity loans, service industries, dairy and seed farming operations to name a few. Helping small business owners when big banks refused and doing so without any government TARP money. We continue to support our communities during a period that remains arguably the most problematic economy since the great depression and fully understand that capital is the lifeblood of any business and without small businesses, no community can expect to prosper.
These days, all eyes are on small businesses, and for good reason. They’ve created the majority of new jobs over the last decade and, in the past downturns, it’s been small business growth that has pulled us out of recession. The ability of small businesses to finance growth is, in turn, largely dependent on the capacity of local community banks to lend them money. Community banks account for 54% of small business lending. Big banks, the top “20”, devote only 18% of their commercial loan portfolio’s to small business.
Why does Willamette Community Bank do so much more small business lending than our big competitors? One reason is that big banks rely on computer models to determine whether to make a loan. Because the local market conditions and the circumstances surrounding each borrower and his or her enterprise are so incredibly varied, this standardized approach does not work very well when it comes to understanding the nuances and risk associated with a particular small business given the need for credit cannot solely be allocated based on “hard credit data” inputted into a model. By drawing on qualitative information – getting to know our borrower, learning about the business and our understanding of the local market – we believe we can better access risk and successfully make loans to a wider group of small businesses vs. our larger counterparts.
Community banks have long been the backbone of the US banking system and serve as a driving force behind the growth of rural America. At Willamette Community Bank, we see our success as inextricably linked with the communities we serve, both with businesses and individual customers. We value our local decision making and ability to customize solutions for small businesses. Service like no other is our “organizational culture” where we value people over process.
One thing rings true. Just being a community bank does not guarantee our success. We must remain competitive in price, product and technology. Our challenge is to remember who we are while remaining relevant and competitive.
Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Business Banking, The Business of Business | No Comments »
The barnacle is not considered a favorite creature of mankind. It fastens itself to the hulls of ships and slows their progress. But in business, barnacles…clients who stick with you through thick and thin…demonstrate loyalty… a dandy thing to have. Think of it this way. If your company routinely loses twenty percent of its client base annually, you are losing all your clients every five years. All the investment poured into client acquisition is squandered. Marvel at what would happen to a business’s bottom line if it were to reduce retention by one-half annually. The results would be staggering.
Client retention is certainly not a new concept; thus the wisdom of corporate leaders can never cease to amaze. Why does it take a slowing economy for now three-fourths of the nations fastest growing companies to initiate what they believe are important new and bold programs aimed not only at client expansion but…holding onto that barnacle…client retention? What appears to be occurring in both large companies and smaller enterprises alike is a wake up call that, compared to programs geared to attract new clients, a focus on retention initiatives…including loyalty programs…may be more efficient and effective for developing incremental sales. Because companies treat retention as such a novel idea, many companies, regardless of size, are challenged to:
- Document and measure how satisfied their clients are with product/service quality.
- Implement client recommendations that would add substantially to retention.
Common sense suggests that having the discipline to gathering and analyzing information about respective clients enables a business to identify opportunities to improve products and services, meet emerging needs and develop customer loyalty…which in turn helps bolster retention…learning to appreciate the barnacle.
Conversely, the inability to document coupled with the lackluster means at implementing client recommendations, generally leads these same companies full circle back to offering inducements to again attract one-time clients through sales coupons, discounts or other special offers. One-two time purchasing clients this sensitive to price will move on to another business as soon as the offer fades. These clients are like butterflies and are the least profitable client for any business…large or small. Seems to again make the case to focus on the barnacles.
For those companies, regardless of size, who emerge from off-site retreats to announce a major initiative designed to enhance client retention…one can simply smile and say, “This too shall pass”. The point they so often miss is this. To get clients to attach themselves to your hull requires making loyalty a key organizational mission statement that is measured. Anything less than this…well, just wait for your discount coupons in the mail.
Have a great upcoming week. Be safe. If I can be of any assistance, please call me at 541-926-9000, Extension 316.
Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: Business Banking | No Comments »
Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Author: Dave Wood | Filed under: The Business of Business | 1 Comment »
“…from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.
Interesting words…that these dead shall not have died in vain. But what is Memorial Day today? It is synonymous with the beginning of summer – it’s a three day weekend for families and friends to get together for barbeques or a trip to the beach. You can always find a sale, but never a parking spot. Memorial Day, a holiday that people look forward to almost as much as Christmas…a feeling of contentment…the meaning of memorial day often lost in all the festivities.
Why remember? Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. America’s collective consciousness demands that all citizens be aware of, and recall, on this special occasion the deaths of their fellow countrymen during wartime. Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others, few of us actually knew. Countless heroes as those depicted in the movie “Saving Private Ryan” or “We Were Soldiers”. This should be regarded as a civic obligation. For this is a national debt that can only be truly repaid by individual Americans. By honoring the nation’s war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifice to this great country.
Who are we remembering? The nation mourns the loss of all Americans who died defending their country throughout the world since 1775. These are men and women who have remained mostly anonymous except for the families who loved them. Though, they came from all walks of life and regions of this country, they had but one thing in common…love of and loyalty for the United States of America. This bond cemented ties between them in times of trials, allowing a diverse lot of Americans to achieve monumental ends…they were this nation’s defenders.
What are we remembering? We remember those who have fallen for this country. Commemorating those who made the greatest sacrifice possible…giving one’s own life selflessly. This remembrance is all inclusive, from the American Revolution to our fight against terrorists, all of which has claimed over 1.4 million lives.
A profound tribute was made on the first national memorial observance on May 30, 1868 by General James A. Garfield. His words are as applicable today as they were in 1868 when he said, “They summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue.”
To each of you and your families, have a safe Memorial Day, and if compelled, take a moment to say “thank you” to those men and women who have bravely fought and gallantly died for our country. By laying down their lives, they have shown supreme love for others and asked nothing in return.