Community Bank Offers ‘Business Casual’ Approach
Customer service is the key to success in the banking industry, says Rich Lievense ‘75.
Lievense, president and chief executive officer of The Bank of Holland, makes himself available to customers as much as possible. Having his office next to the lobby makes it easer for him to interact with clients on a daily basis.
In 1998, Lievense began plans to open a new bank in Holland. With two daughters approaching college, Lievense quit his job at another bank in order to develop a strategic plan, apply for regulatory approval, start raising capital, and implement a start-up plan. Within seven months he raised more than $10 million from local investors, enough to get the bank started.
A team of nine people set up the bank’s first location in a rented bicycle shop. They all shared the same room and developed a sense of teamwork still evident in the bank today. Within a year they outgrew the bicycle shop and moved into leased space in downtown Holland. They outgrew this facility two years later and settled into their current location in Holland four years from the beginning of the dream.
From prior experience in the banking world, Lievense knew that an emphasis on customer service would make his business successful.
“Customers need to be on the top of the pyramid,” says Lievense. “Thoroughly satisfied customers are likely to return and refer others, making a business successful.”
As a community bank, an important priority is to make the customers feel at home. The bank hires friendly and knowledgeable people. Instead of dressing in business suits, the employees wear “business casual” to match more closely what their customers are wearing.
To Lievense, community service is just as important as customer service. The bank encourages its employees to become involved in the community. Lievense is actively involved in the Holland Area Arts Council, the Holland Hospital and Kandu Industries, an organization that provides alternative employment for adults with disabilities.
Lievense says The Bank of Holland’s success is due to “the people who work very hard every day to make the bank successful. Although I started it, our future lies with our wonderful people.”
— Renee Pietila '08