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Since changing its name from San Antonio City Employees Federal Credit Union to generations FCU last year, the credit union has been slowly breathing life into its brand through branch design. According to generations FCU President/CEO Tim Haegelin, changing the name was an important step to long-term growth as it not only helped lift consumers’ perceived barriers but ultimately better reflects what the credit union stands for. “We didn’t want to turn our backs on our past or core membership so to visually help bridge that gap and make the transition more palatable we had a mural commissioned that celebrates our heritage,” said Haegelin. “It’s a graphic demonstration of the good city employees do in the community, from the sanitation workers to police and firefighters; all the various city services are reflected on that wall.” Working with design/build firm, NewGround, the new Yarrow branch, which will serve as a prototype of future generations branches, features an open environment and the credit union’s signature colors. Taking the credit union’s name to heart, the branch creates a warm, inviting space that has something for everyone, young and old alike. In addition, cultural influences were taken into consideration when developing the branch. According to Haegelin, research revealed that the Hispanic market represents approximately half of the entire market in the San Antonio metropolitan area, and the percentage is higher at the location of its Yarrow branch. Tapping into the lifestyle, such as the fact that multiple family members often visit when conducting business at the branch, retail areas were modeled specifically for multiple generations. There’s a children’s area, a computer caf? for Gen Y members, and large loan kiosks and account representative offices for Gen X and baby boomer members who may prefer to be more discreet with their financial matters. “Our vision statement is ‘Experience the unexpected;’ this branch allows us to really deliver,” said Haegelin. “The level of service experienced has also been a great marketing tool in establishing member evangelists, who love the branch and talk about what generations offers to their friends and family.” Rather than a traditional teller line, the space hosts a curved cash bar teller station, designed to encourage discussion and help develop deeper relationships with members. The personal touch continues through a member ambassador located in the center of the lobby ready to help members during high-volume periods. The facility also features biometric security access to safe deposit boxes, and a CoinExpress machine allows members to deposit loose coins directly into their generations account. Chief Operations Officer Kristine Voigt said the layout also creates greater efficiency. “The branch gives choices and flows well to strategic areas,” said Voigt. “The result is that the staff interacts more with members in this more comfortable, less formal environment and it brings that sense of family and generations branding to the forefront.” She added that with an “off-stage” area in the back where employees can do paperwork, the front staff is always ready to greet and help members as they walk in. “Members aren’t left wondering. ‘Why is that person behind the desk not waiting on me?’ This way it is always an all-hands-on-deck, ready-to-help experience every time they walk into the branch,” Voigt said. “In our branches we want the overall effect of having an inviting space that welcomes multiple generations of members, and demonstrates an understanding of members’ different financial needs as they travel through different life stages. It just makes good sense.” –[email protected]

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