Facility Solutions: Cultural evolution in the branches

Make sure technology investments are bolstered by developing productivity in your people.

by. Paul Seibert, CMC

Because branches are so expensive to develop and operate, credit unions are rethinking the branch business model to drive efficiency and cost reduction. Many institutions look to boost their return on investment by replacing tellers with universal agents and/or remote teller technology. Unfortunately, these efforts don’t always produce any increase in those branches’ productivity or share of wallet.

What’s wrong with our concept if we are only getting half the benefits?

Twenty years EHS Design put forth our first branch concepts integrating new technologies and staffing models and they initially failed. Ten years ago we designed a new “financial spa” for $1.3 billion BlueShore Financial (formerly  North Shore CU), N. Vancouver, British Columbia, only to see it fall a bit flat at first, too. But, in both cases, the credit unions enjoyed great success from the new concepts after time. What happened? On analysis, the problem lay not with the concept or the physical space, but with ineffective branch leadership and resulting staff actions that did not support the new business model or branded member experience.

The initial failures were caused by lack of staff integration and commitment to evolution. One branch manager said, “Over the past 15 years I have been presented with new HR ideas. They always change and there is no monitoring or reward. We feel this is just another exercise that will pass.” Obviously, this was the wrong branch manager to drive success in a new business model.


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