Walking into a Rivermark Community Credit Union branch in the early 2000s was like stepping back in time and into a branch of the 1960s, where everything revolved around the teller line.
“Aside from the color of the velvet ropes on the teller line, nothing had changed,” says Seth Schaefer, chief experience officer at the $815 million asset credit union in Beaverton, Ore.
In 2008, Rivermark Community began to examine its facilities to see how it could improve the branch experience for members while continuing to offer the services they sought.
The end result is branches that have a small footprint but are more convenient and accessible. It offer extended hours, touch-screen video, universal staffing, online appointment scheduling, and more.
What the redesigned branch doesn’t have: A granite teller counter—or those velvet ropes. Instead of teller transactions, the focus of the branch is now the member experience.
“Our vision is to put the branch into the hands of our members: Branch by choice, not by force,” Schaefer says. That includes giving members access to mobile services that previously would have required a branch visit.
The need for branches isn’t going away. According to Accenture Consulting’s 2016 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey, 87% of consumers say they’ll use a branch in the future. The branch will remain relevant and important to consumers because it allows them to connect with human advisers, a feature members value.
Of those who use a branch, 61% prefer “full-service branches,” which offer extended hours and full sales support, including mortgage specialists, the survey reports. But millennials prefer “light branches,” which are highly automated and provide access to advisers through videoconferencing.
Convenience and accessibility
Convenience and accessibility were among the top features Rivermark Community wanted to incorporate into its new branches, Schaefer says.
The credit union introduced video tellers in its drive-through lanes to “get our feet wet with technology,” he says, and then began making changes to the interior, which now features a transaction vestibule with interactive video tellers. This area of the branch, which is sectioned off from the main branch with a large glass door, has extended hours.
Inside the main branch area, service representatives no longer handle simple transactions, such as cashing checks or making deposits. Instead, they’re equipped with mobile devices to engage members by actively listening and assessing their financial needs.
With the introduction of touch-screen video teller technology and online appointment setting, the credit union has reaped a 44% reduction in time spent processing teller transactions and a 60% reduction in branch wait times, Schaefer says. On average, a Rivermark Community video teller handles 2,500 to 3,000 transactions per month, while a traditional teller handles about 1,200 transactions a month.
Members are taking advantage of the extended hours, too: 24% of all transactions now take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays or between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Schaefer says.