VACAVILLE, Calif. — Whatever you do, don't call it a branch. Travis Credit Union 23rd location is a Financial Solution Center.

"We designed this financial solutions center so staff members don't have to worry about managing cash and performing administrative duties and can focus 100% on building relationships and offering solutions to our existing and future members," said Travis CU CEO Barry Nelson.

The $2.3 billion CU spent the last several years conducting internal and external research to determine members' needs moving forward.

"We made site visits to other financial institutions for ideas and studied alternative locations, branch designs, furnishings and staffing strategies," said Nelson. "We also researched different technologies that were available to us and worked with various third parties to ensure that every detail supported our mission."

With demographics changing and interactive teller-less transactions becoming more common, financial institutions are required to shift banking services. Travis CU is no different. As of March, the 167,000-member CU supported 74,554 active internet banking users and 50,337 active mobile banking users. With regard to the latter figure, 54% accessed banking via an iPhone while 36% accessed via an Android phone. Just 4% of members used an iPad for banking.

"Our model is focused on building relationships and utilizing state-of-the-art technology to free up staff to focus on finding financial solutions for our members," said Nelson. "Creating an environment that is open and inviting was an essential requirement."

Tech Forward, Member First

While the new branch features a "Tech Bar," Nelson said that technology is just one component of the branch concept. The model was designed to marry member service with banking technologies.

"At our Tech Bar station, members are able to access their accounts or review our website via a PC, tablet or iPhone," noted Nelson. "Our staff can assist members with downloading the Travis CU mobile app to their own mobile devices and help establish their Travis CU accounts."

Rather than utilizing a traditional desktop PC with the member sitting across a desk, Travis CU financial solution specialists work side by side with members using laptops. "We focused on paperless processes, and members who use this branch are very open to receiving their financial documents by email," said Nelson.

Members can access Travis CU products and services via an interactive screen or watch educational videos and email product brochures to designate accounts. Along with free Wi-Fi access, a lobby video features products/services and provides a variety of marketing information.

There are also offices containing large television monitors that allow for private discussions, added Nelson.

Instead of a traditional teller line, the center features two teller kiosks that can perform virtually all the transactions a teller traditionally performs. "With this technology, our staff can spend more time with members finding solutions to meet their financial needs," said Nelson. "Our financial solutions specialists are also available to assist members with transactions at the teller kiosks, if needed."

A New Approach to Staffing

Located in a busy retail shopping center, the financial services center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. When it came to staffing, Nelson said a different approach was taken to fill the six full-time slots.

"The hiring process for branch staff involved an interview between each candidate and a panel of at least five members of our senior management team," said Nelson. "Candidates also had to participate in an extensive certification process."

To get the team ready, "dress rehearsal" days were conducted. And whereas most Travis CU employees prefer normal business casual attire, Nelson said the selected six employees opted for professional attire.

"We looked for people who are passionate about helping others, have great communication skills, are willing to go the extra mile for our members and are friendly and willing to think outside of the box to find solutions for our members' needs," said Nelson.

Since the branch opened less than three months ago, Nelson said his team has not been able to collect enough data to determine which services are being the most utilized. But if member feedback is an indication, he said so far so good.

"We're finding out that members are not intimidated by the technology due to our staff presence in the branch to help them — having the right staff makes a big difference," said Nelson. "Members tell us the technology is very easy to use."

Looking forward, Travis CU will measure the success of its first financial solutions center, which will inform services offered at all locations.

"As opportunities arise, we will be evaluating various branch options, including replicating this model," said Nelson. "We are also planning to update the technology at all our traditional branches in the future."

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the credit union industry

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.