The Commerce Bank Cherry Hill is a New Jersey training centre at Commerce University, with Deborah Jacovelli being the dean of the university who observed that there were many innovative methods for energizing the company’s employees that had been developed. For example, people wore Halloween costumes and embellished their cubicles, which was not a usual behavior initially for the bank staff.
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The commerce bank was founded by Hill in 1973 and there very high expectations from all people that he would make it an exceptional bank. He reasoned that the bank should not be just like any other financial institution. He initiated a society bank with only $1.5 million in Southern New Jersey and since had developed it, without acquisitions, into Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware.
Additionally, he created a retail business that had outlets, and operating from 7.30am-8.00pm during the week while Saturdays and Sundays have modified hours. The company had come up with a ’10-minute rule’ which demanded that the branches be opened 10 minutes earlier and 10 minutes after the normal closing hours.
The SWOT of Commerce Bank
These refer to the strong points of the company; some of the highlighted strengths include the following.
Customer care -There is excellent customer care service whereby making them happy is the bank’s top priority. In addition, there are ways of strengthening customers relationship that were put in place by Jacovelli and her co-workers which consisted of an internal system of incentives and cultural training.
Moreover, awards, commendations, and compensation were accorded. According to Commerce Chairman and CEO, Vermon, delivering above customers expectations was their core objective.
Retail Experience – According to Hill, retail operations pay off much better than the banking sector as exhibited by the escalating stock price at commerce bank since 1990. Although many other banks have tried to push away customers out of the branch since it is the high-delivery channel, the commerce bank decided to retain them. Other banks wanted to push their clients online, but commerce bank rejected.
On the contrary, commerce bank gives customers the best of every channel knowing that they are going to utilize them all. While the big banks attitude sees customers as a liability or cost, commerce bank sees them as revenue generators, it does all it can to retain them.
Good infrastructure – commerce bank provided good service infrastructure like ATMs, call centers, branches and internet. The payment mode was facilitated through electronic transfers and cheques, which made the whole process much easier and faster. In addition, Commerce bank offered deposit and loan products, which earned them more income from the accrued interest.
Moreover, the bank provided a wide scope of checking accounts, which were differentiated from others by offering minimum balance required to avoid charges, checks that attracted no fees and overdraft protection.
Moreover, almost all the banks were automated such that they had call-centers operating 24/7 as well as a Voice Response Unit (VRU). More development was reached when internet banking was invented in 2002, thus increasing operations.
Growth – There was increase in both deposits and loans between 1998 and 2001 of over 20%. In the year, the bank loaned more than 90% of its deposit in 2001, which was an exceptional achievement as most of the larger organizations achieved above average growth through mergers and acquisitions.
Primarily, the company grew through two important phases i.e. cross selling of customers’ products and growth towards fee revenue or non-interest income.
Hill embraced very unique ways of attracting customers like investing back on the customers from the returns gained after offering their services unlike other banks that focused on developing themselves; to commerce bank, the customers were key. Additionally, the employees were also put into consideration as the management always ensured they were enthusiastic.
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Despite having strength in various operation units, the bank is never devoid of weaknesses that need to be improved upon.
First, the bank is embracing a wrong method of ‘cross-selling’ its products. Comparably, most of the other institutions recovered a much higher return than the average of 1.5-2.5 products that was gained by the commerce bank.
Second, the Commercial bank lacked a good criterion of distinguishing the services to be provided to customers depending on individual customer’s profitability. This led to very poor outcome concerning customer satisfaction where only the customers from the smaller credit unions got satisfied by the service provided. As a result, the bank lost up to a third of its potential customers on yearly basis due to attrition.
Indeed, the largest documented decline or destruction of active customers occurred in the first year of the bank’s operations, which saw up to 34 percent leave the company out of dissatisfaction with steep fees and sudden fees, poor service and mistakes. Most of these customers left because of limited bank branches while others were attracted to better services provided elsewhere.
These refer to good prospects or chances that are available for the firm in the near future, which are yet to be tapped.
Incentives and training – There were several ways of ensuring that the customers were always satisfied.
For example, when most operations of the bank became automated, the bank strongly advertised the advantages of using these self-service channels, gave monetary rewards for adopting these channels while penalizing those who continued using the expensive channels like being attended to by a teller. Indeed, these automated services promised better, faster and more convenient services.
The bank provided an opportunity for growth to its employees by offering in-house training. Some of the training entailed bank’s specific policies and procedures as well as deposit and loan accounts features.
The bank’s potential market is very promising given that there are quite a number of potential customers that are yet to be provided with banking services. In order to ensure this is achieved, the bank upped its customer service to attract more customers as well as retain the existing ones.
For example, the bank introduced free gifts to customers whenever they opened account, which encouraged them to return, in addition to offering many forms of entertainment thus creating more opportunity for personal growth.
These refer to the dangers, risks, or limitations that are at hand or are likely to be experienced. One of the threats the bank may be facing is that, with New York being the highest over-banked state, the commerce bank faced a tough competition to be able to cause a positive impact to the country. For instance, commerce bank pumped in the largest amount of money on advertisement way above the other banks during its establishment.
Hill purposed not to join the other companies that cut their cost of expenses through mergers and acquisitions but rather start from the scratch, which must have been a great challenge to keep up on top of the others. The bank therefore took a long period to achieve its goals. In terms of competition, it was discovered that some competitors imitated the Commerce Bank’s extra service features like weekend and evening hours.
The Commerce Bank has achieved a lot during the time it has been in existence. In analyzing the bank through SWOT, it has been established that the bank has strengths in customer care, delivery channels, infrastructure, and human resources. However, the bank is weak in cross selling and differentiation of products.
In the external environment, the bank sees opportunity in expansion, as there is a large untapped market; however, the bank is threatened by stiff competition to an extent that there is imitation of its strategies by competitors.