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Robert Vinnacombe

7/26/2012 04:02 PM

This is a good topic, looking at retailers for lessons rather than templates for operations. Retailers have a lot to offer in marketing to the public but their products and markets are usually different than a credit union. A classic example of taking a retail model into the branch that is an utter failure is the "milk in the back" concept. Great for milk, terrible for member satisfaction.

Bringing costs in line with income (to yield net gains) should be at the top of everyone's list of objectives. The best strategy for this currently is to have better trained branch staff, but fewer of them. A member comes to a branch to accomplish a goal, usually one they do not want to do online or through the ATM. Having cross trained staff ready to completely handle that request will increase member satisfaction and reduce trip-time for the member. That means higher membe satisfaction.

The smart financial providers are moving to a cross trained staff, also referred to as universal staffing. That change coupled with a branch layout and operating model that maximizes the staff capability is the future of the branch. Although transactions are waining, branch visits are still critical and most new accounts and product sales take place in the branch.

Looking to retailers is excellent but remember to talk to companies that know retail and know financial services. Don't build the same old branch, look for models that enhance a universal staff and can deliver better member service with fewer FTE.

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