Banking On Customer Service

By Timothy Schools
Wednesday - January 02, 2008
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Laura Woods, Tim Schools, Connie Lau, Jerry Rauckhorst and Laurie Komatsu
Laura Woods, Tim Schools, Connie Lau, Jerry Rauckhorst and Laurie Komatsu with community donations, which are collected on the first Saturday of each month at American Savings Bank locations

I always said as a kid that if I were a dentist I would get every customer by taking the weekday hours off and being open at nights and on weekends. Interestingly, I scheduled my families’ first dentist appointments in Hawaii conveniently on a Saturday. Thanks, Jason!

Two of the most important hallmarks in the success of any organization are its ability to offer superior customer service and its commitment to giving back to the community. These concepts continue to evolve as customers’ expectations continue to rise and businesses strive to compete.

Most market leaders have defined who they are through a differentiated customer experience or their involvement in the community. For example, Target is well known for its program that gives 5 percent of profits back to the community; L.L. Bean is well known for its satisfaction guarantee, which allows customers to return anything at any time; and locally, Paradise Cove is open an amazing 364 days a year to serve the demands of their customers.

These organizations have risen to the top of their respective industries because they are pioneers. Pioneers are relentlessly seeking ways to introduce new thoughts into their industry.

Times are changing, and so are the needs of today’s consumers. Most of us lead a hectic life with free time at a premium. The business or service that can cater to our needs, desire to maximize our time and provide the most convenience will usually win our business and our long-term loyalty.

Look a little closer locally and you’ll see an interesting transition happening here as well: Pharmacists are working later, some grocery stores are open 24 hours and a major drug store chain now keeps many of its locations open until midnight.

However, while many local businesses are proactively positioning for a dramatically changing and increasingly competitive marketplace, the financial services industry - as is its bureaucratic and conservative bent - has done so at a much slower pace. Nowhere is it more evident than in the traditional business hours that banks keep, closing at 4 p.m.

In many ways, American Savings Bank is a pioneer in Hawaii banking. We partnered early on with Foodland and Wal-Mart to strategically locate where you are most often rather than having you come to us. We created two unique consumer loans in the market: our Ho’olako Pono Loan Program and Equity Express home equity line of credit. We initiated a community service program,

Seeds of Service, which provides a forum for employees of our company to give back to their local community.

Excitingly, we continue to look for ways to forge new ground. This fall we made another big investment by offering extended weekday, weekend and holiday hours throughout our 63 branches statewide. For the average 9-to-5 worker, this means it’s no longer necessary to take time off from work or lunch to do your banking. This is a new paradigm for Hawaii banking and we have had a terrific response.

In conjunction with the roll-out of our extended hours, we have launched our First Saturday effort to make it convenient for individuals to drop off donations for selected nonprofit organizations on the first Saturday of every month at any of our 46 branches throughout the state that are open on Saturdays.

It is our hope that this focused energy will benefit our customers and the community as American Savings Bank continues to be a pioneer in Hawaii.


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