In 2014, Judy Tharpe, President and CEO of Piedmont Advantage Credit Union (PACU), started focusing on branch automation and technology to add intrinsic value to her membership and to attract younger members.
In its quest to attract younger members, PACU discovered that millennials didn’t have much financial knowledge. PACU therefore offered auto buying seminars. It built solutions around these educational opportunities and made them more about the experience, rather than the product.
PACU learned to empower individual employees to do a lot more. MEAs at PACU do everything now, which creates less hassle for the member. Members can also come behind the counter and see the same screen the teller sees, which they love. When the branch was opened with the pilot, PACU closed another (and lost nothing in the consolidation). It promoted the new experience and the branch grew much faster than before. In terms of costs, the branch was pricier compared to a traditional branch, but everything else was about the same. Consolidation into a new building was ultimately an expense savings.
Tharpe said, “We want to create a social space and create an affinity and relationship with YPN (Young Professional Network). The next step is to build programs using their input.” To that end, the credit union has a community event space, coffee bar, free wifi, and other amenities designed to draw the community in and help members feel the credit union’s differences from a bank.
Moving forward, PACU is also looking at ways to outsource non-core business competencies to free up resources and time for improving and building better member experiences.
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