When you’ve been in business for over 40 years, you learn a number of things about change. Business, society, technology, and people evolve. Forty years ago we didn’t have cell phones, the Walkman was barely making its debut on the music scene, and business was largely done with a handshake.
And, while we can’t deny the tremendous ways our culture and businesses have benefited from the evolution of technology, when it comes to the way we manage our employee and customer relationships at SWBC, we hold true to the belief that service never goes out of style. In fact, if anything, advances in technology actually allow us to better serve our customers because we give them multiple channels to engage with us. From social media, to email, to chat bots, over the years we’ve intentionally leveraged technological advances to give our clients a better service experience to serve them where and when they prefer. But, at the end of the day, no matter how much we invest in technology, the foundation of our success is service—people serving people.
A Solid Foundation
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of watching some of my fellow business colleagues and leaders build strong, successful organizations. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen businesses fail. One of the elements that successful businesses and organizations have in common is a solid foundation built on core values. It’s important that organizations stay true to their core values and build their company culture around those values. Every aspect of their operations—recruiting, hiring, investing, marketing, charitable contributions, etc.—should be a manifestation of those values.
The way that Gary Dudley, President and Co-founder, and I have ensured that service never goes out of style at SWBC is by creating a service-oriented culture. It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t without its own set of challenges, but we have always strived to maintain our values in all critical business decisions: integrity, service, trust, commitment, accountability, excellence, and teamwork.
Every organization is different, with a different set of goals and values, but these are the “rinse and repeat” steps that we have taken over the years to build and maintain a service-oriented culture:
Lead by example
Company culture is built from the top down. Gary and I make it a point to be fully ingrained in the day-to-day operations of our company. Whether it’s traveling to meet with clients or prospects, speaking at our employee of the quarter events, or attending charity events on behalf of our company, we encourage our leadership teams to manage with the same mindset.
Be true to your values
You can’t fake culture. We are not Apple, Amazon, or Google, and we don’t pretend to be. We’re proud of the culture that we’ve built over the last several decades, and while we’ll continue to evolve to meet the needs of the marketplace, at the core, we will remain true to who we are.
Hire like-minded people
Your culture is only as strong as the people you hire. While strong resumes full of accolades, degrees, and experience are important, hiring leaders and staff that embody your company values is just as essential.
By nature, Gary and I are communicators. We know that our employees are humans; humans that make mistakes, need encouragement and support, and need to know what our expectations are. In every aspect of your organization, over-communicate your member-service expectations from the top down.
It’s been an absolute privilege to serve the credit union industry over the last 40 years. While our business has evolved over the years, entering into new territories, product lines, and target markets, our organization has remained rooted in making a positive impact on the lives and businesses of our clients.