The branch isn’t dead, but it’s certainly changing. From smaller square footages to optimized in-branch designs, the 2016 version of the credit union branch looks far different from branches of yesteryear. Still, some things remain the same. Whether driven by new technology or staffing, the in-branch experience comes first.
Here are nine lessons in building, designing, and staffing the brick-and-mortar branch.
In late December 2015, Pentagon Federal Credit Union opened its second Puerto Rico-based branch. The first, acquired through a merger with the former Fort Buchanan Federal Credit Union in 2008, is located on the military instillation and requires base access, leading to hour-long wait times.
By opening the second location and redesigning its branch concept, the credit union hoped to improve wait times and the overall branch experience for its 140,000 members who live in Puerto Rico.
Credit unions added to the number of branches nationwide by 2% in the 12-month period ending June 2015, according to data from Callahan & Associates. That’s 20,992 branches nationwide, now serving more than 100 million members and their more than $1 trillion in assets. But the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story. Each credit union, in fact, has its own story, its own branching strategy, its own approach to high-tech, high-touch service that blends the old and the new.
New York City has the highest concentration of United Nations employees, retirees, and affiliate organization members in the United States. It’s also home to United Nations Federal Credit Union.
Washington, DC, however, has the second-highest concentration and is home to the country’s largest UN advocacy group. When UNFCU added members of that group to its field of membership in 2014, the credit union expanded into the nation’s capital. But opening a new outpost, especially one nearly four hours away on a good traffic day from its principle locations, required the organization to smartly coordinate its operations and collaborate across departments.
Rock Hill is the fifth-largest city in the state of South Carolina and the fourth-largest city of the Charlotte, NC, metropolitan area. To some extent, says Lee Gardner, CEO of locally based Family Trust Federal Credit Union, this city of 69,000 residents is a bedroom community. In the past few years, the credit union has joined the effort to turn Rock Hill into a vibrant economic and cultural center, including commissioning artwork from local college students to flavor its brand new headquarters building.
According to the European Journal of Scientific Research, low volume music entices customers to stay longer, whereas louder music moves people through stores faster without decreasing spend. So, slightly higher volumes might be better for transaction-oriented environments, such as the drive-through. Retailers use sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch to their advantage every day. By using these tips, credit unions can do the same.
Lutheran Federal Credit Union made history in 2014 when it received the first new credit union charter in Missouri in nearly 10 years. Since its launch, the branchless cooperative has welcomed more than 1,800 members. Although part of a shared branching network, nearly all of Lutheran FCU’s members joined the credit union online, and the clear majority conduct all their financial business via online and mobile banking. Lutheran FCU’s virtual banking strategy was a critical leap of faith that is now paying off.
Even with the increasing prevalence of digital banking channels, the credit union branch remains a primary point of contact for many members. But the swiftly changing expectation in member experience has put an onus on credit unions to redefine or reimagine the retail experience for the next five, 10, or 20 years. But where to start? This Callahan Collection hopes to provide credit unions with that inspiration.
Where did everyone go? Nowhere. Navigating the world of financial services now requires only a device, an app, and a connection. A credit union’s members can handle their transactions in the now, wherever they happen to be. Like many financial institutions, Washington State Employees Credit Union doesn't see brick-and-mortar branches going away completely, but WSECU's future operations initiatives will focus on digital services.
It was little more than five years ago that interactive teller machines (ITM) made a splash in the financial services space. Now, two large Florida credit unions are taking the plunge. Both GTE Financial and Suncoast Credit Union have announced plans to retrofit a total of 83 branches with ITMs staffed by centralized teller operations. How will they do it?