ABOVE Rick Swagler (left) and Keith Herron attribute Regions’ success to a focus on great customer service, underscored by daily reference to the bank’s core values. Among those values: “Focus on your customer — Serving the customer in an exceptional way is our business, our only business. Know your customer. Serve your customer. Be committed. Understand needs. Meet needs. Make your customer’s life better by what you do.”
Birmingham-based Regions Bank, one of the country’s largest financial institutions, continues to earn kudos on the national level for customer experience, corporate reputation and employee engagement.
A subsidiary of publicly traded Regions Financial Corp., the bank operates about 1, 500 branches and 1, 900 ATMs in the South, Midwest and Texas. Regions Bank has been recognized in recent years for excellence by Gallup, American Banker Magazine, advisory firm Reputation Institute and the national research firm Temkin Group, among others.
Rick Swagler, head of external affairs for Regions Bank, says while awards provide validation and confirmation of the bank’s efforts, “Regions doesn’t set out to win awards. Awards are nice, but the underlying performance is what matters. We try to do the right thing.”
Those sentiments are echoed and elaborated upon by Keith Herron, South Regional president for Regions Bank. “At Regions we are really deliberate in every effort to put our customer in the center of every strategy we take and decision we make, ” he says. “Consistency in how we treat our customers through our core values is our real focus and that has led to awards.”
In March, Regions was recognized again by the Temkin Group, a national research firm that ranks companies from 20 industries across the country based on customer experience. Regions was the highest-ranked bank and tied as the fourth-highest rated company across all industries in the 2017 Temkin Experience Ratings.
The latest Temkin rating marks the fourth consecutive year that Regions has ranked in the top 10 percent of the 300-plus companies evaluated. To determine the ranking, Temkin surveyed 10, 000 consumers who were asked to rate their recent experiences with various companies.
While Temkin has given high marks to Regions’ performance in the past, 2017 was a new high. “The ranking was a great honor for us, ” Herron says. “Consistency in how our associates work with each customer is key. Customer service is a shared value and dedication to providing the customer with what he or she needs is fundamental to us.”
American Banker Magazine and the advisory firm Reputation Institute judged Regions Bank to have the best reputation in American banking, based on consumers’ perceptions of major banks, in both 2015 and 2016. The 2017 rating had not been released by press time.
Regions’ reputation was rated “excellent” by the Reputation Institute in 2016, receiving the highest overall score in the banking industry (73.9 out of 100 points) and the highest score among customers (85.7 out of 100 points). Swagler says Regions has developed its excellent reputation one customer at a time. “Our associates know our reputation is primarily based on our customers getting their needs met consistently, ” he says. “It’s a source of pride to our associates that their hard work is being recognized by high ratings and awards.”
Regions also has been honored by national consulting firm Greenwich Associates for excellence in wealth management and personal investment services. The bank was recognized this past December in Greenwich’s 2016 Customer Service category rating chartered banks with wealth and retail investment services.
Of the more than 150 firms Greenwich reviewed through 11, 000 interviews with business owners and executives across the country, Regions was one of only six noted for top-notch customer service. “Again, consistency of a positive customer experience is our focus, ” Herron says. “We are performance driven; however it’s not just succeeding for us, but how we succeed. We want to make a decent profit by being decent to our customer.”
Just this past May, Regions was named a Gallup Great Workplace Award Winner for the third consecutive year. The Gallup award honors employers like Regions that understand the importance of their employees to the overall success of the company. “Without our associates sharing Regions’ core values, we couldn’t consistently please our customers the way we do, ” Swagler says.
Jim Harter, Ph.D., Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace management and well-being, was quoted in the Gallup Great Workplace Award press release as saying: “The world’s top-performing organizations help lead the global economy by engaging their workforces. Gallup’s Great Workplace Award winners understand and acknowledge the importance of employee engagement by making it a vital part of their organization while using it as a driving force to create real business outcomes.”
Regions seeks to engage its associates by instituting its core values, from initial training into everyday banking life, Swagler and Herron agree. Part of Region’s strategy for engaging its associates is fittingly in the form of an award. The company chooses one of its 23, 000 associates for a Better Life Award each month.
The employee award recognizes how a Regions associate contributes to the community and includes a $1, 000 contribution to the team member’s chosen charity. “We want to cultivate a positive workplace culture and honor those who go the extra mile, ” Herron says. “We hope it will inspire other associates to keep making their communities a better place in their own unique ways.”
Kathy Hagood is a freelance contributor to Business Alabama based in Homewood.
Text by Kathy Hagood