Create an Experience, Not Just a Structure: Credit Unions

Create an Experience, Not Just a Structure

Buildings set the groundwork of who you are and what the future holds. Where you work and where you serve members, says a lot about your financial institution. At NewGround, we believe that a building has the potential to be a business’ greatest impression on the world. A building shows those who enter the space a first impression of your business, it improves or diminishes employee and member experience along with efficiency, and ensures a plan for the long haul. Overall, it shows the impact your space has when an individual enters, as well as a reflection of those who work there.

First Impression

Making a strong first impression is crucial for clients, prospects, interviewees, and even strangers. The exterior and interior of your space can make a prospect decide to work with you or give an interviewee an insight into the culture and operations of your organization. According to Business Insider, it only takes seven seconds to form a first impression of something or someone. That’s why when someone drives up to your branch, you want the outside to generate a positive first impression. The location of your space is the thing that actually makes the first impression. If your building isn’t in a safe or convenient location, people may make up their mind before walking in. According to azcentral, The location of a business is critical because of accessibility, competition, operation expenses, and tax regulations. That’s why residing in a secure area, surrounded by other business’, shopping areas, and is easily accessible, will help individuals choose your credit union. The location will help retain current members and get new members through the door. When someone drives by or into your building, display signs to indicate they are at the right place. When designing your space, materials, dimensions, frictions, structures, doors and windows, pillars, and brick colors are key components of the exterior that show stability. Have a beautifully designed building that encompasses features you want and features that attract visitors. Take care of your exterior by maintaining the outside of the building, parking lot, and landscaping. Doing so will show members and prospects you care what your establishment looks like and that you will maintain and apply effort into the way it looks. If you take care of your building, they know you’ll take care of them with exceptional member service and effort. Simply taking care of the upkeep at your building can translate into trusts in the relationship.

If your exterior is inviting, people are more likely to come inside and create a relationship. When a person enters your facility and has a good or bad first impression that stands out, they will tell their family, friends, coworkers, and peers. If they enjoy your space, they are likely to promote it, sending new business through your doors. If they have a poor experience, they will share that too, which can drive business away. The main entrance is the first area an individual sees in the interior. Make sure it is clean, can direct people where they want to go, and showcases your overall design and concept. As you continue to go through your building, make sure it reflects your brand, culture, mission, and vision. Showcase the colors of your logo and design throughout the credit union to give a consistent look and feel throughout the space. At NewGround, we define success as a building that is designed to create experiences that are a clear extension of your brand. For example, if your financial institution identifies as a technological innovator, your space should reflect that with a tech-forward design. Privacy is crucial at a financial institution, so take that into consideration when designing the space. If members need privacy to fill out paperwork or have conversations with your employees, make sure there are areas where they feel secure. As a measure of success, we strive to make sure the building we design or implement aligns with your brand and culture, which starts with a first impression.

When you have the tools, equipment, technology, and resources at your facility, it increases workplace efficiency and experience. When these two things increase, it results in happier employees and members. According to Globoforce, 36% of businesses see engagement as a top challenge. Additionally, Ultimate Software states that 92% of employees say having technology and resources to do their jobs efficiently affects their work satisfaction. When designing a building, take both employee and customer needs and wants into consideration. Provide employees with equipment and technology they need to complete their jobs effectively. These tools are continuously evolving to work better and faster. They are responsible for following compliance regulations and striving to keep up with industry competition as well.

According to EY’s Global Banking Outlook 2018, three technologies have attracted the most investment from financial institutions and will see more resources devoted to their implementation: mobile technology, biometrics software, and cloud technology. Because these are becoming critical for the success of financial institutions and those who work there, it is important to design a space that encompasses these features. EY also reports that 37% of financial institutions globally still expect to develop technologies in-house. This means employees will need to be equipped with the proper tools and technology. A study by Gartner - Financial Services Leaders states that technology claims roughly 8% to 10% of revenues and expenses at banks and other financial institutions. The technology is one key component to drive employee efficiency and experience, but workspaces are also important. Create office spaces that provide privacy, so employees have a quiet area where they are uninterrupted. Equip their desks with the latest technology. Make every workspace throughout your credit union comfortable. Build conference and community rooms into your design so that your team can collaborate to establish new ideas and strategies. Use these rooms for company gatherings like lunches or hosting internal and external business meetings. Incorporate lounges where employees can take a break or get a change of scenery. Set up computers, TVs, projectors and whiteboards in those areas, so they have the proper tools to brainstorm and document. It is in the best interest of your credit union to create a space that houses the proper tools and technology to get the job done, with workstations to accomplish these tasks in. Featuring these items throughout your workspace increases employee productivity and experience which ultimately translates to customers/members.

Technology needed to support members needs

When a member is at your credit union, they should have the technology available to make quick transactions. ATMs need to be fully-functioning on a daily basis due to the number of people who use them. When an ATM malfunctions, it is critical to have it repaired quickly. Bank drive-thrus are another technological infrastructure frequently used by members. These are easily accessible, efficient, and perfect for on-the-go individuals. Machines to sort cash, coins, and scan checks are also critical for financial institutions. According to Cashtech, manually counting and sorting money is a time-consuming thing of the past. Now, automated bill and coin recyclers can do this work for you, quickly and more accurately. Through digital recognition technology, sorters and recyclers organize batches of mixed bank notes or coins into bins or stacks of separate denominations and count the cash simultaneously. Bill sorters can even alert you to damaged and counterfeit notes, while coin sorters will reject bent coins. These machines help both employees and consumers by speeding up the process and making sure the proper amount of money is doled out. Teller stations are often small. A redesign can make room for new technology, such as check scanners, to make workstations both aesthetically pleasing and efficient. Credit unions scan hundreds of checks each day. Using a check reader is way more efficient than completing the entire process by hand. The more efficient technology you equip your building with and maintain properly, the more your team can help and direct members.

Focus on building relationships and trust

Find ways to build members experience by showing your clients you are a valuable resource for them. Money can often be a nerve-racking topic. Make sure your members feel comfortable talking to you. Ask them questions and get to know them and share the resources you have in your branch/bank for educational purposes. Provide a list of your services online and throughout your institution, so they are aware of every product and service you have. Flyers, pamphlets, and images that provide critical information will help members become educated about their financial options and situation. A building needs to be correctly furnished with the right design, materials, and the right employees. Your institution will create happy employees, which helps maintain happy members, driving the success of your facility. The space we create houses employees who serve the members who keep the building in business. It truly is a cycle.

Plans for the long haul

Nothing says you’re here to stay better than a newly designed building. In Mintel’s Forthcoming Retail Banking and Credit Union US October 2012 Report, half of consumers state that they chose their bank because there is a branch near their home - a significantly higher proportion than any other reason listed. And nine in 10 (including hyper-connected millennials) say that it is important to them to have a bank branch nearby. This ties back into how the location of your credit union can generate a first impression. At NewGround, it’s not just exteriors and interiors we’re crafting: we’re guiding the feeling consumers have when they enter or leave your rooms, and the pride employees feel while working inside them. Creating a new building will put an imprint on employees, members, and the communities they reside in. Redesigning a building alerts members that you’re not going anywhere. Create a space that will last with tools and materials built for longevity. Consider colors, designs, and updates that will not become outdated for many years. The potential of your building starts with the actual structure. Having a new space that will be around for the long haul can help drive new employees and retain the current ones. Additionally, it can provide job security. Today, people are looking for the next big thing. Employees want to work at places that possess creativity, innovations, and are updated. Often, employees strive to work at large institutions or for businesses who are industry leaders. This new building shows your commitment to the future to your members and employees.

Commitment to community

Building a long-term institution creates a visible relationship with your community. Creating a positive experience by being impactful members of the communities we serve is in NewGround’s DNA. Whether we are providing donations in partnership with our clients, serving local charities, supporting our staff in their personal efforts, or raising money for awareness for research organizations, NewGround—and the employees who make up our company—show support and compassion through our outreach efforts.

At NewGround, our mission is to empower the communities in which we work and live by providing them with the resources they need to be successful. A new building shows your members, employees and the community you are there long-term. Make yourself available to serve. Strengthen the relationships you have in these three sectors, so they too are in it for the long haul.

A new building is your credit union's biggest potential because of the first impression it gives, the experience and efficiency it provides both employees and members, and the long-term production it establishes. Our team collaborates throughout the entire process to ensure your vision is carried holistically from idea to implementation. We believe that structure without strategic purpose is just windows and walls and that a beautifully designed building is measured by how beautifully it functions. Strategic spaces are designed from the inside out.