Credit Union Australia (CUA) has become the latest financial institution to try its hand at a 'branch of the future', employing the usual barrage of screens and some quirkier features, including a herb wall, to draw customers in.
Australia's largest customer-owned financial institution, CUA brought in designer ThomsonAdsett to build its concept branch in Carindale, Queensland, where customers "are encouraged to relax, learn, play, and explore all of their financial needs".
The branch includes a huge plasma wall, dubbed 'the billboard', displaying news and product features; a 46 inch 'touch board' table for customers to "play, learn, explore and transact"; and iPads.
IPads also feature in a special kids zone, while a cafe lets customers grab an espresso as they carry out self-service transactions. Meanwhile, 'the bench' acts as a casual interaction space, 'the booth' as a self-service zone, and 'the cove', 'the curve' and 'the corner', three private meeting spaces.
Gimmicks include a photo wall that will hold 1200 pictures taken by customers - either on the spot or at home and then e-mailed in, and a herb wall for a "fresh and fragrant vibe".
Darrin Northey, group GM, distribution, CUA, says: "We wanted to create an environment that doesn't just reflect the community but becomes part of the community. We see our branch spaces as becoming far more than transaction and process based, or sci-fi service centres which have begun to alienate people. We want people to stop-in at our branch, to feel inspired and at home with us."
CUA says that it brining in a new service model for the branch, including a team of "roaming concierges" who have undergone training in a model branch made of cardboard in a factory near Brisbane.
"From the initial design phase, to usability testing and most recently our intensive customer service training, the model box-branch has been critical to the successful implementation and configuration of the concept branch - and I literally mean a factory of big boxes we've sat in and shuffled around to get the best result," says Northey.
The bank will monitor how the branch is received by customers before deciding whether to use the same principles across its network, although with tweaks to suit the location.