CUES Podcast
CUES Podcast
Aug 25, 2020
CUES 98: How to Rebalance Branches Now That the Pandemic Has Accelerated Digital Use—an Interview with Kevin Blair
Play • 32 min

The pandemic has accelerated trends that have long been underway, including consumer adoption of mobile services. That means that credit union leaders need to shift their thinking, possibly shifting their strategy for meeting and supporting digital demand.

“In order for them to manage and go forward with their physical and digital relationships, they’re going to need to change,” Kevin Blair says in this episode of the CUES Podcast. “Nothing will be quite the same as it was before the pandemic.”

In this show, Blair, president/CEO of CUES Supplier member NewGround, says that before the pandemic, surveys showed that 60% to 70% of consumers preferred coming to the branch to do their financial business. Now, a similar proportion says they prefer to interact with their financial services provider digitally. 

“What the pandemic did was accelerated it—it pushed the industry to the tipping point,” Blair emphasizes. (Learn more in the company's new whitepaper.

Interestingly though, this doesn’t mean credit union members will never want to enter a branch. On the contrary, research Blair cites in this episode says the first thing that consumers wanted to reopen was manufacturing. The second was their financial services provider. Blair thinks this means their top priority is jobs and then after that they want to attend to their financial business.

In the show, Blair provides a host of practical suggestions for how to make sure that your credit union’s physical locations respond to consumers’ concerns about sanitation and the prevention of disease transmission. These include sneeze guards, automatic door openers and motion-activated faucets. 

Blair emphasizes in the episode that credit union leaders need to keep their organization’s long-term strategy in mind.

“This too shall pass,” he says. “It’s not forever.” Physical sites are designed and implemented with a 20 to 30-year vision. They have some flex but they aren’t something you replace two years after establishing them. 

In addition to working on their actual digital delivery systems, credit unions need to be thinking about how to staff the support for digital delivery—he says it’s not unreasonable to think that teams doing digital delivery support could double or triple in size. And that begs the question about what kind of physical space will best help employees do this work.

The show also gets into:

  • The member experience center of the future
  • How members are more patient with branch service than with digital delivery
  • Rebalancing delivery channels going forward
  • Alignment of brand, place and culture
  • Resetting strategy in the wake of the pandemic 
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