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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -From the interior design layout to color and textures selected, more credit unions are encouraging members to make themselves at home. This “open house” approach comes equipped to please with large screen televisions tuned to CNN or local/national news; comfortable sofas; Internet access; several interactive centers; kids’ learning zones; and even free coffee. It is the high-tech, high-touch combo that credit unions hope will knock-out the competition. “With a charter and name change we needed to re-establish our brand so that meant having highly visible branches,” said Meriwest Credit Union Corporate Communications Manager Susanna Ordway. “So we put them in highly retail locations where there is a lot of foot traffic since they are surrounded by both residential and business areas.” When it came to design, the goal was to look unique, and reinforce the message to anyone walking by that Meriwest provides convenient ways to access their money while still having that personal touch said Ordway. Showcasing its Home Buying Center, an oval room encased in glass, Meriwest created a space where members can conduct their own research and even connect with loan officers at the San Jose headquarters via real-time, two-way video conferencing to have questions answered or complete applications. Also providing members service on their own terms is Kansas City, Missouri-based CommunityAmerica Credit Union. Members are greeted by a welcome center instead of a lobby. “Our center tells members they are welcome and that we want to help them, not just process them,” said CommunityAmerica CU Administrative Services Senior Vice President Linda Boring. “Person-to-person service is another of our hallmarks, that’s why we added video cameras and screens to our drive-thru lanes.” While the tellers handle members’ requests, the video screen doubles as a promotional tool and plays marketing messages tailored to member needs or lists upcoming community events. As the only credit union located in Benicia, California, 1st Pacific Credit Union had to make a big splash in the community. “We decided to focus on self-service technology,” said 1st Pacific CU Vice President of Marketing Nancy Carter. “We ended up introducing an innovative concept in financial services here.” In addition to account access, members can be issued Visa credit cards and Check cards on-the-spot thanks to an onsite terminal. Employees are also on hand to help when needed. [email protected]

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