Powering the Branch Transformation

People and processes carry as much weight as technology.

October 7, 2014

IntegrUS CU coffee shop

IntegrUS CU of Dubuque, Iowa, recently opened the Caisse Cafe—a full-service branch that functions as a coffee shop with wireless access for customers.

Technology definitely plays a role in modern credit union branch design—but people and processes carry equal, if not greater, importance, says Chris Gill, senior director for Diebold Advisory Services. Diebold is a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.

“The goal is to create environments where members can engage with staff and develop deeper relationships and discussions around financial needs,” Gill says.

Many credit unions are doing away with the traditional teller line, opting to install automated technology and create spaces where staff can engage in higher-level conversations with members, according to Gill.

Some branches have kiosks with ATMs, and staff don’t touch cash. “Employees greet members within 10 seconds to see why they’re there, walk them to a self-service device, and show them how to use it,” Gill says. “In the future, kiosks will automate check dispensing and cashing, as well as coin dispensing.”

Automation doesn’t equate to self-service, notes Terry Page, financial center manager at $1.8 billion asset University Federal Credit Union, Austin, Texas. He points to consumers’ comfort with Southwest Airlines’ ticket kiosks, where associates guide you through the process. This contrasts with the confusion and frustration often generated by understaffed supermarket self-checkout lines.

“Southwest has successfully increased its level of service by employing associates who help create a positive customer experience through a sense of urgency, education, and building the member-customer relationship while decreasing the barriers between the customer and h is or her flight,” Page says.

With a traditional teller line, an employee spends only 10% of his or her time working with members versus 85% in modernized branches, Gill observes.

Novel elements also can lure consumers. IntegrUS Credit Union in Dubuque, Iowa, with $19 million in assets, unveiled a full-service branch with a wireless café/coffee shop.

It’s all about providing a great consumer experience, Gill says: “That leads to greater satisfaction, loyalty, and differentiation from other financial institutions.”