Leadership at Commerce Bank knew what it needed to do to be successful in the banking industry. They knew from the get go that they wanted to focus on differentiating themselves from competing banks. They wanted to compete on service rather than price recognizing that their prices weren’t always the best in the industry. Their corporate strategy was set around their customers having a positive, memorable, and consistent experience when they visit any of the Commerce Bank branches. They relied heavily on research to determine why customers left their financial institutions in favor of a competitor and they made it their goal to make Commerce Bank stand out from the rest. Commerce Bank capitalized on what other banks were doing wrong.
Over the years, Commerce Bank did everything from being opened seven days per week to handing out dog biscuits for drive-through customers to having bank mascots in the branches entertaining customers. During 2002, the retailtainment concept was introduced (Frei, 2006). The idea was ensuring customers were entertained even if they were in the branch waiting in long lines. Branches were encouraged to come up with ideas for the new concept. Ideas ranged from having hot dog carts in the branches to having jugglers engage in a performance. The goal was to give customers the ultimate experience while in a Commerce Bank branch and continue to deliver on the company’s mission of differentiation.
From the beginning of Commerce Bank in 1973, their main corporate strategy was to differentiate themselves within the banking industry in order to grow and gain market share. The first bank location was opened in southern New Jersey and has since spread into Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York. Expanding into New York represented a huge opportunity for the one-time community bank. Commerce Bank branded themselves as “America’s Most Convenient Bank” with branches open seven days a week and expanded hours during the week of 7:30 AM – 8:00 PM (Frei, 2006). Some of the drive-through windows were open as late as midnight to accommodate customers. Through research, they found that one of the key reasons why banks lose their customers is due to them finding a more convenient bank elsewhere. Commerce Bank wanted to capitalize on this research by becoming a bank of convenience for its customers and future customers.
While most banks in the early 2000’s were pushing their customers into the electronic banking world rather than visiting a branch, Commerce Bank sought to give its customers a first class experience during branch visits and encouraged both conventional and electronic channels. For example, if it was raining out, the branch employees would walk the customers out to their cars under an umbrella. They had candy and dog biscuits available for customers going through the drive-through windows. They also put penny arcades into all their branches which served as entertainment to the customers. Once Commerce Bank took note of the fact that other banks stopped accepting coins or charging to do so, they decided to install penny arcades that their customers could use to exchange their coins for bills (Frei, 2006). It’s served as entertainment for kids and other customers in the branch. The arcades were free of charge to both customers and non customers. This would bring traffic into the branch and attract new customers at the same time.
The issue that Commerce Bank faces surrounds the retailtainment concept introduced in 2002. The Bank has built their reputation on differentiating themselves within the banking industry while maintaining consistency among branches. There has been extensive research, planning, and execution involved with getting the brand to where it was prior to retailtainment. The retailtainment concept has allowed branches to come up with their own ideas of how to entertain guests in their branches. There have been some...
References: Frei, F. (2006). Commerce Bank.
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