When you look at the advertising for almost any business you will find phrases like “we put the customer first,” “customers can count on us,” and “we’re here to serve you.” In its many different iterations the message is intended to show that the particular business cares about their customer more than the competition. This thought process is not unique and certainly has helped many businesses attract more customers and sell their products and services. Commercial lenders, from banks to independent Asset Based Lending organizations, also stress the importance of customer service.
At VCF we have taken the concept of customer service beyond just making loans. Although we follow many of the same policies and procedures that exist throughout the lending community, when it comes to reviewing collateral and making loan advances, we stress the importance of understanding the customer’s business. While that may sound like another marketing pitch, it is truly at the core of what we do. What happens when the CFO gets the flu and is out for a week? What happens when the new accounting software “hiccups”? What about when a major customer delays shipment on a larger order? By knowing our customers and their business as intimately as we can, we are able to respond to these unanticipated situations and help the customer over the “bumps in the road.”
An interesting twist to the questions above is what happens when a VCF account manager, our borrower’s primary point of contact, goes on vacation for two weeks? The customer’s business certainly does not take two weeks off! How do we serve the customer during these two weeks? While we have a dedicated person as the contact for each of our customers, all of our teammates are kept current on our customer’s activity so that they can serve the customer and support one another. One of VCF’s core values is Servanthood. This applies to not only serving the customer but serving our internal teammates as well.
An element of Servanthood that one does not hear discussed often is how we apply this value away from work. Our Chief Credit Officer, Eric Gill, has spent one week each summer for 18 years serving as the construction coordinator for his church’s high school mission trip. The picture above is from their most recent trip, where they worked at the Veteran’s Restoration Quarters in Asheville, NC. I bring this to your attention to simply show that Servanthood is not just a corporate value, it is one which we live in every aspect of our lives.
By constantly talking with each other, our customers, our referral sources, and potential customers, we are striving to build innovative solutions to challenging situations. In serving one customer we may learn how to better serve others. We are all unique individuals who bring certain strengths and weaknesses to every situation. By working together our combined strengths minimize the weaknesses and
allow us to build a stronger base to serve one another, our customers, and our community.
Processing loan requests is certainly an important aspect of serving our clients. Understanding their business and thus being better prepared to help them over the unexpected challenges that every business encounters simply allows us to be a better lending partner.