Branch Projects
USE Credit Union – Mission Valley Prototype Branch

The Challenge

Activate USE Credit Union’s philosophy of balanced efficiency and a service-first sales culture in a branching environment that is both modern and personal.

Project background

USE Credit Union is fully engaging with the future of financial retail. The credit union is building a service-first sales culture around a philosophy of balanced efficiency. To achieve this goal, USECU is focusing on training members to use ITMs and other digital channels for quick transactions while providing an environment where they feel comfortable engaging with staff in deeper conversations.

The first phase of this project was a branch prototype design. This highly collaborative process with the Momentum and USE Credit Union teams culminated in a unique Prototype Handbook that sets a ground truth for the credit union’s branching strategy and design. The Prototype Handbook describes how a branch will look and operate on a conceptual level for multiple branching models, streamlining the rollout of multiple branches and creating a consistent look, feel, and sense of purpose.

This new branch in San Diego, California’s Mission Valley neighborhood is the first location where USE Credit Union’s branch prototype was applied.

Embracing Members Relationships While Making the Small Stuff Quick and Easy

The Mission Valley branch is the first deployment of USECU’s new branching model, and is a unique new financial center focused on building personal relationships. It’s all about putting service first and creating a warm and approachable atmosphere. What makes USE Credit Union different is that it’s not just a bank, but rather USECU staff are a resource to help members create opportunities and new possibilities in their financial lives.

The branch layout embraces this by focusing on the employee experience as well as the member experience, and empowering staff to step into this role. Staff members provide staged service, moving through the branch to conduct fluid conversations and valuable personal interactions. This branch also functions as a training environment for staff at other locations.

The café seating area in the lobby of the branch functions as a “concierge triage” station, where staff talk with members and understand the purpose of their visit. From here, members are directed to the ITMs or other areas of the branch that can best be used to solve the issue they came in with that day.

Yet while the focus is on human interactions, the branch can still handle high transaction volumes such as a lunch rush or cashing checks on a Friday. The 24/7 vestibule, part of the branch during the day and separated by a partition wall at night, features three ITMs supported by virtual tellers both at the headquarters and the on-site contact center. USE Credit Union has invested in training members on using the ITMs, and just a few months after the branch opened they are already seeing a strong majority of transactions taking place via ITM.

ITM Contact Center

USE Credit Union - A Branch Design Build Project - Personal interactions in a digital banking world.The ITM contact center plays a key role in USECU’s new branching strategy. The credit union is putting digital service first to achieve greater efficiency, and this means directing members to the ITMs before other branch resources.

With this change, USECU anticipated concerns from both members and staff. On the employee side, ITMs can be seen as competition with human employees. And members may see this as a move to push out the branch staff they’re familiar with, to take away their jobs.

USECU has created a hybrid branch staff and ITM role at the Mission Valley branch. Staff are moved fluidly between the branch lobby in the front and the contact center in the back, and this emphasizes the human face of ITM banking.

Members are hesitant at first, but it’s the relationships that staff have built that get members to try the ITMs. And once they try it, they typically like it.” – Amber Fielder, VP of Marketing at USE Credit Union

“They’re the same branch employees, they’re just on a screen now. And they can help more people,” says Amber Fielder, VP of Marketing at USE Credit Union. “Members are hesitant at first, but it’s the relationships that staff have built that get members to try the ITMs. And once they try it, they typically like it.”

The result of this strategy is that both staff and members see this new technology as a help rather than a competition, and it cuts through member hesitancy around ITMs.

Today, ITMs account for the majority of transactions at the Mission Valley branch.  Transactions not taking place via ITMs are generally those that can’t be done on an ITM, such as applying for a mortgage.

Momentum Moment

USE Credit Union’s new branch is located at the Westfield Mall, a location with strict design and construction guidelines for tenants. While the location was ideal for the credit union’s newest branch, USECU didn’t want it to look like a typical mall business.

Momentum’s design team rose to the challenge, creating a uniquely branded façade that complies with the guidelines while introducing innovative architectural elements and lighting in the entry portal. This on-brand entrance sets expectations for the experience inside before members even walk in the door. Unlike many mall businesses that blend together, USE Credit Union’s visitors will have no problems locating the branch.

While a mall isn’t usually the first place people go to look for a bank branch, this storefront serves as a billboard exposing visitors to USECU’s brand.

 



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