North Peace Savings & Credit Union
Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
As part of their strategic plan, North Peace Savings & Credit Union (NPSCU) wanted to place focus on expansion through growth in new markets. After significant research, they found that Dawson Creek was a perfect fit to expand services in the South Peace region. Since the credit union wanted the concept of this new location to extend well beyond design, they looked to NewGround—as an experiential design-build firm—as the partner of choice to build the new Dawson Creek branch around the member philosophy.
Entering a new community, NPSCU needed to make a bold statement that would quickly establish their presence in the marketplace and set the tone for extraordinary service. Together, NPSCU and NewGround developed a new branch concept that has been described as a Smart Service Centre. NewGround’s specialty is creating experiential branded environments. With one of its signature methodologies, NewGround designed the facility with NPSCU—from a function and marketing standpoint—using what is called the Member Journey. The foundation of the journey is built around the premise that there are five activity zones that must be addressed in order to maximize the experience and marketing messages a person receives through their interaction with a facility.
The Smart Service Centre sits prominently on a standalone pad shared with Starbucks, with a strong, modern and progressive exterior image. The exterior showcases large windows that face directly to oncoming traffic for the Starbucks drive-thru to send marketing campaign information directly to these users. NPSCU’s logo is strategically placed on three sides of the building, making it visible from the street, the mall development and clearly identifying the entrance. Additionally, the lobby of was purposely situated so that it is directly observable to the members’ drive up to the Centre, as well as creating an opportunity to garner the attention of Starbucks foot traffic as they pass the Centre. The design allows a connection of the dynamic interior to the exterior.
To encompass the transition of the outside world to the branded environments of the branch, the interior of the Centre encompasses the credit union’s brand experience with a bold colour palette that envelops members in the brand from the moment they walk in the door. Additionally, furniture was specifically selected to further their brand message—colourful, comfortable, and modern, with an exciting edge to it.
NPSCU’s Mission is “Helping Our Members Succeed in Life”. One of the main focal points in the lobby is the hearth, or fireplace, which is used to architecturally capture this statement. Traditionally, a hearth has been considered a symbol of warmth, comfort, and shelter—home. A comfortable home embodies success. The Centre’s hearth addresses this symbolism but in an exciting, modern way. The hearth also provides the opportunity to support a large screen monitor that broadcasts the credit union’s marketing message with the waiting area of the lobby, and it is visible from the exterior.
The Centre also provides a high-level of service to the community by leveraging award-winning technology. Addressing the changing role of branches in members’ lives, the Centre does not have staff that deals with cash. Instead, it builds upon the service of the successful Face 2 Face personal teller machines (PTMs). Through two PTMs, Video Banking connects members to live tellers through video-enabled machines. Although remote, members are connected through a highly personal environment that creates direct personal contact between the member and teller. Staff in the branch are freed from the complexity that cash entails and can focus directly on needs of the member. Face 2 Face video offers members a complete network of sales staff, business, retail and wealth specialists directly to the members.
Staff at the Centre are called Experience Specialists, and the design of the Centre assists them in delivering their message. Conversations can be held in the lobby, but for more private conversations two offices are available. Keeping with the free flowing nature of the Centre, these ‘hoteling’ offices are shared by all staff. Bright and modern, the offices break down the traditional furniture arrangement whereby a desk is a barrier. Moreover, each office is a smart office, meaning that it is set up for video conferencing allowing for the Experience Specialists to instantly draw upon any expertise required across NPSCU’s network. Technology is leveraged to enhance NPSCU’s brand by ensuring there are no barriers to serving a member’s needs.
Finally, critical to any branch success is support for staff needs. The Centre provides a comfortable off-stage area to recharge, discuss ideas with colleagues, as well as tune into any corporate or training messages from the head office. Colours are purposely kept on brand.
The NPSCU Dawson Creek Smart Service Center recently received recognition for the Achievement in Marketing (AIM) branch design award from the Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MACU). This coveted award is given to credit unions across Canada that are acknowledged for their outstanding marketing achievements through the Achievement in Marketing Excellence.
From dynamic branded colours, to the inviting appeal of the exterior design and digital signage, NPSCU members embark on a journey from the moment they see the credit union.
“NewGround was able to take our concept of a modest footprint, minimal staff, cashless branch and combine it with our desire to use unconventional service channels to leverage staff across the whole organization for a seamless member experience. The end result was a design with strong branding, great visual appeal and a true extension of our service experience.”
- Mitchel Chilcott, CEO, North Peace Savings & Credit Union