Members and Staff Welcome Transformed RiverFall Branches

Is your retail environment welcoming to potential members in your community, even those outside of your original field of membership? Does it feel like another stuffy bank branch, or is it a place where anybody feels like they can come in and have a conversation on a more personal level and receive a higher level of service?

The Tuscaloosa Teachers Credit Union team sat down and asked these questions, and the result was a goal to perform a complete rebrand and branch network transformation. Together with Momentum, the credit union set out to create a retail environment that resonates with their members and their neighbors and establishes the new RiverFall Credit Union as a trusted resource for banking services where they are seen as more than another customer in the teller line.

The new branches have received overwhelmingly positive reactions from members and the local business community. They’ve gone beyond just being branches, they’ve become a place where people come to hang out on a hot day and where local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce host meetings.

So how did they get here? Working with Momentum’s designers and strategists, RiverFall’s team identified what was working and what wasn’t, and what design strategies could help them meet their objectives.

Hometown Look and Feel

RiverFall Credit Union Northport Branch Transformation exteriorThe new branches greet members with an open and welcoming atmosphere that activates RiverFall’s new brand identity. The branch atmosphere blends Tuscaloosa’s past with the community of today, giving the branches a modern hometown feel. Each branch also includes a credit union history wall that celebrates the credit union’s roots and the people who built it.

Momentum’s design team opened up the exterior of the building to let as much natural light in as possible. In the case of one renovated branch, which had old fashioned slit windows and painted brick, the walls were opened to create large windows that cover much of the exterior and the bricks were stained to give them a warm, natural color, consistent with the new branch locations. The result was a complete visual transformation with an open and inviting storefront in both the renovated and new construction branches.

Personal Member Experience

RiverFall Credit Union Northport Branch redesign with no teller line

A more open layout designed around teller pods and a transition away from a traditional staffing model reflect RiverFall’s focus on making the member experience as smooth and convenient as possible. The closed off teller lines were a wall between the members and those helping them, but new Member Service Associate stations create an environment where the members and staff are sharing the same space and can communicate more naturally.

This layout, combined with remote drive-up technology, makes it easier for staff to handle a wide range of needs and even seamlessly provide ADA Accessibility.

It gives us much more versatility and therefore more efficiency. We have a much more engaging, circular retail environment.”

Greg Sassaman, Former CEO of RiverFall Credit Union

On-demand “hotel offices” complement the more open design and give the staff even more flexibility. Where traditional offices once tied up a lot of space that ends up being wasted when not in use,  hotel offices give any staff member the opportunity to sit down with a member in private to give more personalized, one-on-one attention for more consultative services.

Comfortable Operations Space

RiverFall Credit Union Northport Branch new hotel offices

The new main office branch is designed with operations staff that supports the work employees are doing, while also providing a seamless growth plan where departments expand and fill out as the credit union grows. This empowers staff to work collaboratively with plenty of space to themselves, without getting cramped or splitting departments as new team members are added.

RiverFall’s team loves the new space, and they feel more productive and engaged in their work.

One of the Best Meeting Sites in Town

RiverFall’s main office also include a large meeting space that can be divided into two rooms, a flexible space that is used for meetings and training events. What makes this space unique is that this room was designed with extra space and laid out so that it could be opened to local businesses and community groups, and they take full advantage of it. It’s often booked and sees frequent use by businesses who need an offsite meeting space as well as groups like the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and the local Board of Education.

“You have one of the best meeting sites in town” said Jim Page, president of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.



Since the transformation, RiverFall’s once flat growth has taken off. Member growth went up to six percent and the credit union quickly led their peer group in loan growth.

A successful growth strategy can be attributed to a number of factors, but Sassaman says that the branching strategy and creating a space that truly resonates with members and the community played a critical role in enabling this success.

Momentum was a game changer”

Greg Sassaman, former CEO of RiverFall Credit Union

RiverFall Credit Union Northport branch drive up

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