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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – For Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, a main branch renovation has not only made an impact here but has sparked a new approach to member service. “The whole premise behind this was to create and become a more friendly open environment,” said TVFCU Marketing Coordinator Jimmy Johnston. “Since this is our main branch and it needed some revamping what better place to try something like this and shake things up a bit.” Johnston says the credit union was the first to introduce the retail environment here. In keeping with the “open feel” traditional barriers such as teller lines and teller windows have been removed and replaced with round “dialogue towers” where TVFCU Financial Consultants can process transactions. “The idea is that every employee is cross-trained and that anyone can process a transaction so no one is limited to just a single role of teller or loan officer. It creates more career opportunities,” said Johnston. In addition, the branch features changeable signage; an in-house video information system which allows target marketing; an Internet station for members to access their accounts online; and a touch-screen interactive display, which serves as another cross-selling tool. Focusing on products such as auto loans, mortgages and checking, an onscreen narrator at the interactive display walks members through a series of questions to help determine the best product fit. “Members get a much better grasp of what we offer before they head to a member service representative and can ultimately save members time,” said Johnston. “We also keep a few brochures in the area to reinforce the information that is shared.” Members can relax in the member lounge where they can indulge in the gourmet coffee and bottled water at the Perks coffee center (see artwork) or purchase merchandise from the Tennessee Valley FCU To Go! store. Positioned next to the concierge desk the store offers everything from binoculars and piggy banks to watches and mugs. Johnston says since members were always asking for items with the CU logo the store made sense. Stocked by the marketing department items are sold at cost. Johnston says the store was a big hit over the holidays and the items sold offer another opportunity to spread the credit union name throughout the community. “The look, the feel, the service experience- it’s a refreshing wave of change from what you’ve come to expect from a financial institution,” said Johnston. “It has been a big change for both members and staffers alike but the response has been good overall.” Staffers underwent months of training to build a team-focused retail approach to service. “The end goal was for employees to be able to really talk to members more to find out their needs and cross sell accordingly rather than pushing the product of the month,” said Johnston. “The open layout of the branch helps improve our communication with members, encourages them to linger and ask us some questions.” The credit union also partnered with RiverCity Company and the City of Chattanooga to create “Valley Alley”, a landscaped outdoor walkway that essentially creates a short cut for locals to use. While there are no plans to renovate the remaining 11 branches two new branches with the same retail feel are slated to be built by 2005. [email protected]

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