MADISON, Wis. (9/23/08)--Three credit unions were the winners of the fourth annual CUNA Operations, Sales and Service (OpSS) Council’s Best Practices Awards, which recognize innovative solutions that optimize credit union performance. The award winners delivered presentations on their entries during the council’s 11th annual conference, which took place last week in Williamsburg, Va. Mayo Employees FCU, Rochester, Minn., won in the Sales and Service Management category for its Swashbuckler program. The program was created to push positive loan growth and ease the pressure on its members due to the economy. The credit mining initiative prompts lenders to begin a conversation with members about loans and credit card debt they may have at other financial institutions. The credit union offers them the credit union’s lower rates. In the first three months, the program garnered nearly $516,000 in new consumer lending money. Tucson (Ariz.) Old Pueblo CU won in the Branch Design category for its new branch design that reflects the community and the Southwest. Its entrance offers three options--the investment/real estate area, an ATM vestibule and the main branch. The separated areas allow the investment/real estate department to conduct business after regular branch hours for added member convenience. The main branch was designed to feel friendly and inviting, rather than commercial. Its Internet station allows members to conduct online banking or do personal computing. It also features an open kid’s area, and a waiting area designed like a Southwest-style living room. The exit features a “Hero Wall” to honor Tucson citizens who exemplify the community spirit. The environmentally friendly branch realized $3.8 million in new deposits, 56 new checking accounts, and 11 new real estate referrals in the first two months after opening. Financial Partners CU, Downey, Calif., won the Call/Contact Center award category for its POD system. The system reorganized its contact center and broke representatives down into small teams (PODs). The team encourages open communication, forward thinking, sales performance, friendly competition, and cross pollination of best practices to enhance the member experience. Representatives are better prepared to handle member inquiries, resulting in improved service quality and Net Promoter scores. Checking production increased by 40% in one month and transferred calls decreased by 35%. The awards were created to identify, recognize, and share new approaches and solutions with universal application in the credit union movement. Winners were chosen, without regard to credit union asset size, based on strategy, process, application, and results.