LAS VEGAS – Credit unions must implement strategies now that will adapt to consumers’ changing needs, Sundeep Kapur stressed at CU Direct’s Drive conference in Las Vegas Tuesday. A big part of that is redesigning branches in a manner that will attract more members inside – not drive them away.

“There’s a shift in consumer behavior, and today we need to focus on the consumer with the self-service device,” Kapur, a Columbia, S.C.-based educator who teaches organizations, including credit unions, best business and branding practices.

In his session, “Your CU in 2025: Seven Critical Factors,” Kapur explained that for a branch transformation to be successful, it should focus on an open design concept – an environment that is welcoming and creates comfort for members. He offered a few practical tips for credit unions looking to build a branch that attracts business:

  • Stay away from offices and rooms with closed doors, as they can make members literally feel shut out. Instead, create an open space with tables or pods that allow members and employees to easily approach one another.
  • Try the “kitchen table concept” – a large table used as a meeting area for members and employees. “It’s a comfort zone where you can talk about financial transactions,” Kapur said.
  • Create a “decompression zone” that members can filter into when they enter the branch – a comfortable waiting area with soft lighting. This helps keep members from feeling rushed into heading straight for a teller station to complete a transaction.
  • Avoid these three branch transformation mistakes: Decorating too heavily, overdoing it on technology and tearing down the entire branch and rebuilding it from scratch.
  • Pick up the brochures in your branch, run your fingers along the edges and see if there’s dust. If there is, the document probably needs to be updated. Branch employees want to avoid giving a member facts about a product only to be given the response, “But your brochure says this.”

 

Kapur also emphasized the importance of effective new member onboarding, nurturing ambassadors for your credit union, focusing on ROI and polishing your credit union’s internal channels. In addition, he listed seven “musts” for credit union card programs: Connecting the card to the smartphone, giving one card the ability to pay another, achieving a member penetration rate of 75% or more, driving 30 to 40 transactions per member per month, earning revenue of $3 to $7 per card, preventing card fraud and driving referrals.