The ‘living room’ concept
First Technology Federal Credit Union in Beaverton, Ore., now designs its branches to allow staff to collaborate with members.
“We created a ‘living room’ concept that we call our relationship center,” says Brad Calhoun, chief retail and marketing officer at the $10 billion asset credit union. “This is where our lobby manager greets and directs members as they come into the branch.”
Branches have two stations for typical transactions. The goal of these stations is not only to complete the transaction, but also to learn more about members and their financial goals.
First Tech employees can continue conversations with members in a lounge-like private suite when needed, Calhoun says.
After rolling out the new branch design, the credit union saw a 40% drop in transactions but a 15% increase in sales. Those numbers point to an increased level of engagement with members, Calhoun says.
“When we observe a decline in transactions and growth in sales, we know our new branch design strategy is working,” he says. “That’s because we’re seeing more members managing transactions via self-service options and more members spending time in our branches speaking with our teammates on how to reach their financial goals.”
It’s not just the layout of the branch, but also the design that allows members to feel more comfortable while carrying out their financial tasks.
At Elevations Credit Union in Boulder, Colo., Branch 2.0—the credit union’s moniker for its efforts to develop a unique branch experience for members—features full-function teller pods for processing transactions, and areas where members consult with staff.
But it’s the look of the branch that really appeals to members, says Jay Champion, chief operating officer at the $1.8 billion asset credit union.
The branches resemble a coffee shop or neighborhood brewery tasting room, and feature interior finishes made of sustainable materials, eco-friendly furniture, and Colorado artwork that “reflects our local surroundings and lifestyle,” Champion says.
The inviting, familiar branch feel has built trust and long-term relationships with members, Champion says. The credit union has seen increases in its Net Promoter Scores® (from 64% to 76%), year-over-year loan volume (36%), and new accounts (4%) in 2016.
“It’s the combination of high-touch, one-to-one service, and great technology that makes our Branch 2.0 model work,” Champion says.
Transformation through technology
One way credit unions have changed the design and focus of their branches is through the addition of new technologies.
Features such as digital signage, tablet kiosks, interactive teller machines, and video walls allow members to conduct business without the assistance of an onsite employee. Examples include handling simple cash transactions, changing an address, and discussing a loan via video conference.
“Technology is a vehicle that transports your vision to reality,” says Lisa Huertas, vice president, emerging markets, at FTSI. The CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider offers interactive teller machines, ATMs, digital walls and signage, and video collaboration tools.
“We’ve seen a huge shift in our business model over the last three to five years,” she says. “We started FTSI as an ATM sales and service provider. But today, 75% of our business comes from institutions seeking interactive solutions dedicated to branch transformation.”
At First Tech, technology upgrades include a cash recycler to improve productivity, digital screens that highlight marketing campaigns and special offers, and a mobile bar, where staff can walk members through the online banking experience, Calhoun says.
But even if members embrace top-of-the-line technology, the branch’s success still depends on the human staff members.
“This model is only as good as the people and the training they receive to build relationships and connections,” Calhoun says.