The Next Generation of Branches
In my video I briefly touched on some statistics and elements of the next generation of branches. I would like to explore this further with you. First let's start with the members. Credit unions were founded on the philosophy of people helping people. This is just as important now as it was then. In today's world where convenience is king and trusted relationships matter, members want us to be able to help them achieve financial success, offer them advice, and support them through their life events in a way that is convenient and makes their lives easier.
Once you know what your member wants and how you want to deliver it, you are ready to move on to meet these requirements through the development of staff. First off, you need to ensure there is a creative and collaborative culture in place. Employees need to feel valued, supported, and empowered. When this happens they are automatically more invested and engaged in their responsibilities. The teams within the next generation branches need to demonstrate flexibility to carryout multiple roles within the branch. Because teller transactions have significantly declined, and will continue to do so even further in the future, there will not be a need for a basic teller position. Instead, everyone will be cross-trained to support all of the functions within the branch. Additionally, because our convenience services are so strong, we may never interact with the member who walks into the branch again so we need to immediately win them over. In a short period of time, we need to build rapport and develop a strong connection so we can maintain a lifelong relationship.
At Unitus, we have a strong culture that centers on the member, the staff, and the future. This has made a clear vision and development path for each employee when fulfilling the components of their role so they feel empowered to do what is right. I'd like to take this a step further and change job descriptions and titles to more deeply encourage the feelings of empowerment and value each person has in their role. For instance, a Member Service Representative could change their title to Financial Genius, Experience Driver, or B-HAG Supporter, also known as Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal Supporter. Ok, maybe not the last one, but either way, this sets the stage for the member and the employee that our credit union is here to support the member's financial success. When making this type of cultural change it is not important to follow the industry standards, but rather pave the way for what the industry standards should become.
Now that we have further explored more details about the human elements, starting with the member and moving on with the development of staff, let's shift over to the physical structure and tools. The physical structure of the branches in the future needs to be warm, inviting, and yet simple and to-the-point. An easy and cost effective way to do this is to limit the square footage of the branch. Gone are the days of offering a traditional teller row with multiple windows and long teller lines. Next, the physical structure needs to promote interaction and fit within the community in which it’s located. The layout should be easy to understand so anyone can walk in and instinctively know where to go. The furniture needs to be more like that in a living room and less like that of an office. As for the tools, technology is vital because it connects people in new ways, it can be edgy and attractive, and it can give you a competitive edge. The key to remember with technology though is that if you do not already have the behaviors and values in place with the end-users it will not help you progress. Technology is a tool to help you become more effective with your interactions, rather than a standalone replacement for human interaction.
In the end, branches of the future should be thought of as hubs for getting advice, assisting in life events, and promoting financial success in a member’s life. Members should feel confident we will meet their needs and staff should be well developed to be able to exceed these expectations on a consistent basis.
Corlinda Wooden, Unitus CommunityCredit Union