With mobile and online banking becoming increasingly popular banking institutions, especially credit unions, are advocating for branch design strategies with contemporary concepts and financial technology that is pointed at improving the member experience without losing that all important human touch.
The need for the personal touch in the financial services industry continues to be met by credit unions. As members continue this quest for digital channels and the old banking model changes into a retail model, the design of the branch must conform. Banking can no longer occur in a fortress style environment. Technology has inspired consumers to take charge of their finances as they shop online for the best deal. So, credit unions must capture the opportunity to develop and nurture an environment for their members that demonstrates the “people helping people” values and beliefs. This high tech, high touch atmosphere is the branch of the future. FHFCU (fhfcu.org) is one of the most popular and high tech credit unions in New York that helps their customers in many ways.
Credit unions must reinvent themselves and create value and a reason why members want to come to the physical location. It is important to create an interactive environment and redefine the behaviors that should be occurring in the branch and understand that the new design must support person-to-person relationships.
Some Dos and Don’ts to think about
-Don’t try to out do your competitors in your high-tech savviness. While it is positive to take the lead in the war of the high-tech toys, it’s important to not take the approach of technology for technology’s sake.
-How about providing free Wi-Fi to members that allows them to continue using their own personal devices. Or, instead of providing magazines and newspapers to members while they wait for an appointment, provide an iPad for browsing.
-Many members are not comfortable with discussing their finances in an open space. Integrate private offices into the new branch design, creating a comfortable environment for member engagement.
-Think about integrating a video wall into the new branch design. This video wall will showcase dynamic motion graphic content ranging from brand-building messages, to local scenery, to current campaign promotions.
-An informal community meeting space would be a positive addition to the high touch design.
-The goal of the high tech, high touch branch is to simplify the customer experience and allow time for staff and the members to really connect. The new technological features will allow staff to spend additional time finding solutions to meet member financial requirements.
-As you consider the new branch design, it is important that you become a true financial partner to your member. Make sure to transform the branch from just a servicing environment to a consultative atmosphere where you can collaborate with the members to determine their needs and recommend financial solutions.
The core functions of the credit union of the future is about anticipating the member’s needs and presenting simple and targeted promotions using traditional and digital solutions. Combining technology, innovation and the human touch will play a key role in the branch of tomorrow.
What does the branch of tomorrow look like? It would be open and accessible to all, combining virtual sales and promotion into one space. It would be staffed with employees that could guide the member to smart financial decisions while making their banking entertaining and captivating.
Most importantly, when creating that high-tech, high touch branch, I have learned that it is the employees that make the difference, not the technology.