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Since 1949, Piedmont Advantage Credit Union has steadily grown from its roots as the credit union partner of Piedmont Airlines to serving members across the state of North Carolina and beyond. But on June 9, 2014, Piedmont Advantage took a bold step forward in their member-centered culture with the opening of a new flagship branch for potential and existing members that will change the way you look at banking.
The younger generations do not do banking the traditional way; Gen Xs, Gen Ys and Millennials utilize more technology, and come into branch offices for information and relationships. This new branch allows Piedmont Advantage to deepen their relationships with existing members, as well as attract new ones, within a more modern concept of banking.
A New Space and a New Opportunity
The creation of an entirely new space offered a unique opportunity for Piedmont Advantage. In the past, their branches resembled those of countless other financial institutions: traditional teller lines and a honeycomb of office spaces. The new branch, however, embraces the philosophy of “members come first,” both in form and function. In their radically different business model, everyone entering the branch will be greeted by a Member Experience Advisor – or MEA, a full service credit union employee – ready and able to assist with any transaction, from deposits to loan applications. Members are invited to sit down and hang out, read the paper or grab a cup of coffee. Free Wi-Fi and satellite music is provided throughout the lobby area and the new Member Terrace. The Terrace is an outdoor area open for members to enjoy the fresh air.
But before they get down to business, members and visitors alike will want to take a look around at all the branch has to offer and explore the new layout, beginning with the Heritage Wall. The Heritage Wall celebrates the credit union’s roots in the aviation industry with Piedmont Airlines. Airline founder Tom Davis inspired his company to stretch and dream, an inspiration that continues to drive Piedmont Advantage today to always deliver caring financial solutions to each and every member.
Moving on from the Heritage Wall, members can explore the interactive touch screen boards, displaying short bios introducing the MEAs. The boards will also provide a perfect conversation starter between members and the MEAs themselves, as they outline various life stages and the financial needs unique to each.
At both the Heritage Wall and the interactive touch screen displays, MEAs stand available. Rather than stand in a teller line, waiting for the opportunity to find out if you’re even speaking to the right person, visitors will be greeted immediately by staff ready and able to assist with any need.
Rebecca Curley, the manager for the new flagship branch, is particularly enthusiastic about this subtle but significant change. “We’re moving to the member, not waiting for them to come to us,” Curley says. Using the MEA system rather than a teller line also allows for the individual experiences and passions of the staff to be fully available to the members. Curley notes that Piedmont Advantage has a wonderful diversity of age, personal interests and life experience in their MEA staff, which in turn provides a wide range of resources for their members. “It’s a win-win situation when we can let our staff bring their passions to the full service of the members,” Curley says. She cites an enthusiasm for education and financial literacy among the many specialties of her staff, and believes that members will benefit greatly from access to these resources in the new branch.
New Technology and a Relaxed Environment
In addition to the increased availability of the staff, members will also find many new technologies that allow for greater efficiency in their visit. Most transactions will be handled by the MEAs at one of several stations, the closest thing to a traditional teller in the branch. However, these stations are equipped with new technology designed to eliminate a great deal of time and work per transaction, allowing the MEAs to give more of their attention to the members themselves. Curley notes that this is another way Piedmont Advantage is seeking to be even more member-oriented. “Transactions will be smooth, modern, efficient, and largely paperless.”
This is only the first half of the tour, however. The branch will also have an area with stationary iPads available for use, ideal for accessing the Piedmont Advantage online banking site to access your e-statements or check on the status of a loan. Don’t know how to do that? The MEAs will be more than happy to take the opportunity to demonstrate the many features available to you and teach you how to access them from your home, or anywhere you have Internet access. If you have small children in tow and need some help keeping them entertained, there is also a kids seating area with several iPads preloaded with age-appropriate games for their use.
In many financial institutions, a comfortable seating area may hint at extended wait times, but not at Piedmont Advantage. The plush couches and chairs near the iPads are available to those who may want to sit in a more relaxed environment and discuss any non-confidential information with their MEA, such as becoming a member, options for retirement planning, or explaining the mortgage process. (If more privacy is needed to discuss confidential matters, no problem – there are several office spaces available for those conversations!) However, if the visitor just needs a moment to organize their things or wants to sit comfortably while enjoying a complimentary cup of coffee from the free snack bar, they are welcome to do that as well. If it’s a beautiful day outside, though, they may wish to sit outdoors on the Member Terrace and enjoy the sunshine! Yes, the free Wi-Fi even extends to the outdoor seating.
A Simple Strategy
“It’s really a simple strategy: the more reasons we give our members to come in to our branch, the more likely we’ll be able to add value and grab a piece of their business,” Curley says. “It’s about relationships and financial building blocks while having a cup of coffee, or a member interaction review on a comfy couch. These experiences lead to a collaborative partnership between our members and their member experience advisors.”
Piedmont Advantage’s new flagship branch is located at 3530 Advantage Way, Winston-Salem and is open for business! The branch hours are Monday through Thursday 8am-5pm, Friday 8am-6pm, and Saturdays 9am-1pm. Come by and experience our new banking model, and explore the possibilities of becoming a PACU member today!