First off, congratulations on your branch successes! The "Branch of the Future" can mean different things to different people and the key to success is related to people, processes and technology. What can you share about your transformational journey and how you went about it?
This was a multi-year journey for us just to find out what challenges we wanted to solve and the best way to do so. The approach employed had several elements including observation of our staff, our membership (both anonymously and with their knowledge) and by using the Kano model with our senior leaders to find out what we thought were our tables stakes, performance metrics, and wows. We learned from others and we embraced change, which was very important for our success not just for our membership, but also for our branch staff.
How are the new branch designs assisting in making the branch more functional?
That’s a great question because we have implemented the universal banker concept, self-service and assisted self-service technology in all our branches – both the traditional ones and also the newly designed ones that FITTS manufactured. The new branches certainly have a big impact on member and employee satisfaction. We have seen increased financial related sales. We strategically placed our full service counters in the back of the branch so that members realized when they come inside we have many ways to assist them. Cash is secured in devices, we are “paperless” and have automated so many processes. The new designs and modular furniture allows us to adapt the branch to our needs. We are faster now at assisting our members and they appreciate that.
It takes some great partners to accomplish all of that. Can you share how about you began working with The Fitts Company and what strengths stood out in your mind?
Once we had the design finalized and the general contractor was engaged, the intent was that all the furniture pieces would be made from traditional millwork. It quickly became apparent that there were challenges to that approach and the general contractor was a bit apprehensive using wood due to the curved designs and fit-and-finish we wanted. The designer then recommended FITTS to deliver the project based on past successes he had working with a top 3 US bank. As we became more familiar with FITTS, the project management team made some very good recommendations and suggested different materials that our designer also championed. We were uncertain at first about using aluminum but once we received some painted samples we immediately knew we had a winner. FITTS went from an unknown, to a trusted advisor and partner for us in a very short time.
What are a few of your favorite features of the new branch design, and what gets commented on the most by your membership?
It’s really hard to limit our favorite features since the entire branch as a whole makes a statement. Members consistently comment on three areas: the contemporary appearance that is bright and open and reminds them of an Apple store, the choice of performing a transaction either self-serve at the in-branch lobby teller machine, staff assisted if they need a little help, or the ability to have a staff member transact for them. Lastly, we have received many comments on the versatility of the staff. By employing the Universal Banker model, our members can count on being served by one highly knowledgeable individual regardless of their need.
So what's next? Where do you go from here?
To date, we’ve completed five branches with FITTS in our new format and we would like to do more. We’ve learned from each one and collected valuable input that we plan to implement as we move forward. It’s imperative to not get complacent and we are always striving for ways to improve the experience for our membership.