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ATLANTA – Credit unions should never underestimate the value of branching out. According to a recent Market Pulse survey conducted by facilities design/build firm IBT, when asked which method of banking consumers prefer most, the traditional branch ranked first with one-third of all consumers saying they prefer to go inside their local branch. In addition, the Internet, ATM and telephone usage have not supplanted the branch, but are used to complement the traditional branch experience. The survey also finds that the average consumer visited their primary branch 2.4 times a month and that 86% of all consumers visit their branch at least once a month. Some 86% of consumers say they prefer to open a new account at a branch near their home, and the majority prefer to do their everyday banking near home. Other ways consumers like to interact with their financial institutions include visiting ATM at their primary branch (66%); Drive Thru (61%); Internet Banking (36%); and computer in branch (5%). Aside from the traditional brick and mortar branch, the grocery store was named by 61% as the most convenient place to bank, while discount retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target ranked second at 16%. According to the survey, with a focus on branches the big opportunity for financial institutions lies in more effectively delivering product information. Nearly half (46%) of all surveyed said they want information on new products, services and special promotions. Yet an overwhelming 83% of them report that they did not learn about any new products or services during their last visit inside their branch. In fact, less than half (46%) are very satisfied with the ease of finding product information at their branch. When asked what they like the most about their primary branch, consumers’ top responses were as follows: * Friendly service (50%) * Quick service (37%) * Helpful employees (24%) * Personalized service (18%) * Knowledgeable employees (14%) When asked to identify and describe a place where they have a positive shopping experience, consumers named their grocery store and discount retailers, both receiving 34% of responses. Some 42% said that it is the friendly and courteous service they receive while shopping at the retailer that makes it a positive experience.

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