When I was a young newlywed, I used to go to the same old-timebarbershop that my father went to. I'd love going in for a hair cutbecause they knew me and I'd always be sure to hear some new storyof the old days, which would usually involve a relative of mine. Istopped going after a few years for a simple reason: it took toolong for me to get my haircut. The head barber had a fatal flaw: hecouldn't talk and cut hair at the same time, and he sure loved totalk. I miss that time I used to spend with the old folks in thatbarbershop, but in this time-sensitive world I must frequentservice establishments that are going to give me what I needquickly. This is especially true in the realm of financialservices, and in particular for credit unions, which need toprovide superior services while they build trust-basedrelationships. Therefore, the branch experience has to be designedwith this dual goal in mind, using every design element within thebranch to achieve this.

The traditional model for the branch experience fostered anarms-length business relationship. Over the last 20 years manyattempts have been made to improve the experience by focusing oncreating personal relationships with the members. The latest trendin branch design that has taken root over the last 10 years is the"Retail" model for financial service delivery. Its basic premise isthat financial services should be sold in a retail environment,rich in marketing/graphic content that positions the institution'sservices as if they were different brands of sneakers. This modeldiscards all the elements of a traditional branch.

In 2005, NewGround published a refinement of the retail model,called "experience retail." This new model is based on a surveythat showed that only 31% of the people questioned were highlyreceptive to the idea of developing a personal relationship withtheir financial service provider. NewGround deduced that creditunions should not be focusing on relationship building, but shouldbe creating a theatre-like retail experience that will appeal toall the different types of people that come through the doors.

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