CHESAPEAKE, Va. (12/17/14)--When it came time for Chartway FCU to look at building the "branch of the future," the credit union turned to an unlikely source: retail. Specifically, retail stores that emphasized customer engagement.
The result is a branch that eschews the traditional queue, teller stations and member services desks. Instead, members are greeted at an information desk immediately upon entering, and shown where to go for the services they need.
"We did a lot of research when putting this idea together, and we just kept coming back to retailers, specifically ones who were changing the way they do business with consumers," Michael Wagner, Chartway's corporate sales officer, told
. "We found places like Apple and Verizon seemed to be hitting the nail on the head when it came to engagement as soon as someone walks in the door."
Chartway FCU, based in Virginia Beach, Va., with $1.9 billion in assets, has 52 branches nationwide. When deciding which to transform into a new kind of branch, the credit union had to look at a few things.
Chartway FCU welcomes members to its Greenbrier branch in Chesapeake, Va., newly opened as the "branch of the future." The branch contains virtual tellers, staff who can look up account information via tablet and other ways to make daily operations more efficient for members and staff. (Chartway FCU Photo)
"We wanted a location where we owned the building, was in need up an update and was in an area that served different populations and is up and coming," Wagner said. "Greenbrier met all of those criteria: It's fast-growing with a lot of employers coming into the area, it has a pretty good mix of members of all ages and demographics and it has a pretty good mix of deposits and loans."
The Greenbrier branch in Chesapeake, Va., has replaced the standard teller stations with "virtual tellers" and rows of desks with four shared offices that can be used by staff to provide specific services to members.
Members are greeted by someone when they enter the branch, and can proceed to one of the virtual tellers, consult with a staff member with a tablet who can look up some basic account information, or use one of the shared offices.
The virtual tellers consist of a screen where members can interact with a teller and a tube where members can make their deposits and receive cash, receipts or statements. The shared offices also contain pneumatic tubes where deposits can be made and other documentation can be submitted.
"We knew right off the bat that members coming into the branch for the first time might be a little lost, which is why engagement is right at the top of our list, to show people exactly what they can do, and how they can do it," Wagner said. "Process flow was a major part of the design. Tellers can now handle multiple transactions from the inside and from the drive through, and that helps us serve members more efficiently, while keeping our staff safe and secure."
Wagner says branch staff have been more than up to the challenge.
"We have a great team in the branch, and they're excited to be a part of this pilot effort. They've been very adaptable and open to the change," he said. "We've had employees from other branches come by to learn better engagement techniques."
The move to mobile deposits and online services has changed the nature of many credit union transactions, which meant Chartway wanted to maximize the experience members get when they visit a branch, Wagner said.
They also have a bank of computers and staff available to help members learn the ins and outs of online banking and remote deposits.
Wagner says loan productions and deposit growth has been up at the Greenbrier branch since the change.
This is the second installment of News Now's new series "The CU Effect," which gives readers a fresh and in-depth look at how credit unions make a difference in the world every day. Look for the next installment Jan. 7.