At Landmark Credit Union in Brookfield, Wisconsin, waiting for a cashier feels like waiting for a table in a restaurant.
In order to enable social distancing in the three new branches that the credit union built this year with assets of $ 5.8 billion, Landmark is trying to get rid of the queues at the counter. Instead, the same pagers are issued that many chain restaurants use to warn diners when a table is ready. Members can also schedule an appointment online where they can see bankers’ availability for key services such as loan closings and account openings.
“This allows members to schedule a time that best fits their schedule and eliminates the waiting time typically associated with walk-in appointments. We are also expanding our self-service capabilities in our branches, ”said Chief Experience Officer Brian Melter.
Pinnacle Credit Union in Atlanta takes a different approach to social distancing. In the next branch, she expects many of her cashiers to be able to work from home.
The new branch will have a mix of distributed ATMs and interactive ATMs that will be operated remotely. Depending on the machine type, customers could still sign and show their IDs to authorize transactions. The $ 89 million credit union expects cashiers to remotely perform at least 95% of normal transactions.
“We bet at least half a human resources department will be needed in the future because the personal touch is still important,” said Matt Selke, CEO of the $ 89 million credit union.
It’s a balancing act, said Selke. While it can allow almost all cashiers to work remotely, the credit union’s customers still want personal access to bank employees.
“We will have more traditional checkout lines than we previously thought – albeit more widely – with the option of ITMs in a different section of the store,” said Selke.
These pagers enable Landmark Credit Union members to know when it is their turn to meet a cashier without queuing.
Even as vaccination rates go up and people push back to concerts and sporting events, there is still a push to Wear masks and distance yourself socially to protect the unvaccinated as well as to protect against breakthrough cases and new coronavirus variants. These concerns take center stage when banks and credit unions consider new branch structures.
Those building new branches have the opportunity to experiment with floor plans that offer more space between checkout lines or self-service options.
One factor that helps create social distance is the increasing acceptance of drive-through or digital banking. This allows banks and credit unions to provide more personal space without a larger floor plan.
“Although newly built stores are smaller, new concepts are more open and provide more space within the facility to allow social distancing, as many institutions want to maintain at least minimal counter presence,” said Glenn Grau, senior vice president of sales for the Pittsburgh facility resident industry advisor PWCampbell.
Another example of this branch design philosophy is Credit Union 1, with $ 1.4 billion in assets, which recently opened a new branch in Anchorage, where the Alaskan credit union is headquartered.
This facility, which opened on November 1st, has seen strong adoption of interactive ATMs and has been praised for the lack of traditional ATMs. Members can access individual help in the branch via employees who can be reached by video.
“We thought of the future throughout the process and then the current events of COVID happened and we were already on the move to give Alaskans a better way to invest in this environment. The financial center and the state of the world could not have been more symbiotic, ”said Rachel Langtry, chief operating officer of the credit union.
The $ 305 million asset Greater Community Bank in Rome, Georgia, had started a “major expansion renovation” in a market prior to COVID and eventually decided to continue that plan for a larger physical presence, said President and CEO David Lance.
The bank has created space for one-on-one meetings, zoom rooms and more open space to provide a comfortable and safe environment for both employees and customers, he said.
The dynamism of these newer branch concepts, however, comes up against another trend to reduce the number of branches overall. Younger consumers are more comfortable with the technology and less likely to have to visit their bank or credit union in person – but they still want to be able to go to a branch when needed.
“There is an ongoing discussion about how many and what types of stores are working, but it looks like there will be fewer,” said Peter Duffy, general manager at Piper Sandler. “Technology is the bank of millennials. You want to see a branch nearby, but don’t use it. “