LAS VEGAS – Credit unions must implement strategies now thatwill adapt to consumers' changing needs, Sundeep Kapur stressed atCU Direct's Drive conference in Las VegasTuesday. A big part of that is redesigning branches in a mannerthat will attract more members inside – not drive them away.

“There's a shift in consumer behavior, and today we need tofocus on the consumer with the self-service device,” Kapur, aColumbia, S.C.-based educator who teaches organizations, includingcredit unions, best business and branding practices.

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

  • Stay away from offices and rooms with closed doors, as they canmake members literally feel shut out. Instead, create an open spacewith tables or pods that allow members and employees to easilyapproach one another.
  • Try the “kitchen table concept” – a large table used as ameeting area for members and employees. “It's a comfort zone whereyou can talk about financial transactions,” Kapur said.
  • Create a “decompression zone” that members can filter into whenthey enter the branch – a comfortable waiting area with softlighting. This helps keep members from feeling rushed into headingstraight for a teller station to complete a transaction.
  • Avoid these three branch transformation mistakes: Decoratingtoo heavily, overdoing it on technology and tearing down the entirebranch and rebuilding it from scratch.
  • Pick up the brochures in your branch, run your fingers alongthe edges and see if there's dust. If there is, the documentprobably needs to be updated. Branch employees want to avoid givinga member facts about a product only to be given the response, “Butyour brochure says this.”

Kapur also emphasized the importance of effective new memberonboarding, nurturing ambassadors for your credit union, focusingon ROI and polishing your credit union's internal channels. Inaddition, he listed seven “musts” for credit union card programs:Connecting the card to the smartphone, giving one card the abilityto pay another, achieving a member penetration rate of 75% or more,driving 30 to 40 transactions per member per month, earning revenueof $3 to $7 per card, preventing card fraud and drivingreferrals.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has been immersed in the credit union industry for over a decade. She first joined CU Times in 2011 as a freelance writer, and following a two-year hiatus from 2013-2015, during which time she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union), she re-joined the CU Times team full-time as managing editor. She was promoted to executive editor in 2019. In the earlier days of her career, Chilingerian focused on news and lifestyle journalism, serving as a writer and editor for numerous regional publications in Oregon, Louisiana, South Carolina and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, she holds experience in marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space. At CU Times, she covers People and Community news, cybersecurity, fintech partnerships, marketing, workplace culture, leadership, DEI, branch strategies, digital banking and more. She currently works remotely and splits her time between Southern California and Portland, Ore.