While employees at most bank branches are trained in one area of expertise — loan servicing or new accounts, for example — Umpqua's "universal associates" are cross-trained to serve any customer who walks through the door.
Umpqua's "return on quality" software tabulates things like customer surveys. Each department's score is published. Besides determining incentives and awards, the rankings foster pride and healthy competition among branches.
Umpqua tellers don't need to ask for approval before doing something customer-friendly, such as waiving a fee. Notably, employees are often more thrifty than their managers and execs.
"Maintaining a culture is like raising a teenager," says CEO Ray Davis. "You're constantly checking in. What are you doing? Where are you going? Who are you hanging out with?"
A version of this article appeared in the April 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.