Process and product perfection

10 attributes of a successful new branch format

by Paul Seibert, CMC

Over the last six months, our work developing branch business models and new prototypes has increased three fold. Financial institutions are asking the question: “Should we build, staff and operate our next branch the same as we have in the past, or take advantage of new technologies, staffing models and the evolving consumer and business financial market to create a new branch prototype?”

While every credit union and its standard branch format should be unique, there are 10 attributes that help drive the success of prototypes. These attributes are created through the design development process by addressing key issues and creating solutions through team innovation and collaboration.  Ask yourself if your branch prototype:

1. has clarity in its translation of the CU’s brand. Each element of branch environments must be defensible in terms of how it supports the brand and business objectives. For example, “We are now offering teller transactions through our video teller branch; by doing this we can focus our resources on helping our members improve the quality of their lives and enrich the experience for both members and staff.” Clarity about this ensures top-down understanding of the branch experience so it can be easily explained to members and the community by the board, senior management, and operational and teller line staff members. Clarity suggests organizational buy-in, intelligence, confidence, accuracy and telling the truth. Clarity of brand is the only way staff can truly live the brand.

2. attracts, retains, and develops target members. Each branch must present a brand experience that draws in target members and then focuses members’ attention on key products during every visit. How can the branch be designed to come alive—to be a stage upon which to orchestrate and drive relationships, building accounts per member and share of wallet—rather than being just an attractive box? What are the principles that drive the branch design and cause staff and members to take desired actions and build successful and sustainable relationships?

3. delivers strong differentiation in image and experience. The branch experience must project something uniquely desirable about the credit union. What draws the community in from the street? How does the CU experience connect to community, target members’, and the credit union’s common values and interests? What words do members use to describe their branch experience today and when they visit the new prototype? What is it about the new design that substantially differentiates you from the competition? What makes members and staff say, “Wow”?

continue reading »

More News