Seasons Federal Credit Union is in the process of implementing ITMs into their branch network. We recently renovated the main office in Middletown, CT office, which is also the busiest in the network. The teller line was to be removed and all teller transactions and some other activities would be conducted via video tellers (ITMs). Two universal banker locations are sited in this immediate area, where people can have a more personal consultation, or be brought to private offices if they want to do more complicated transactions. Everyday deposit, withdrawal, and account inquiries, as well as some more extensive types of activities, can be done through the ITM, and the universal bankers can assist members who are unfamiliar in using the technology.
The total branch space was 2,905 sq. ft. We divided this into two sections; 1,850 sq. ft. which is now the transformed branch, and 1,055 sq. ft. which is now the call center. The main public access area includes three private offices and the ITM video teller wall. Behind this wall is where the work stations are for the video tellers. We branded the walls behind the video tellers, so members see this on the screen and it feels consistent with the rest of the branch environment.
All construction work had to be done off-hours in order to keep the branch open and functioning during the renovation. This wasn’t an easy task, partly because the old teller line was located at the farthest point back in the branch space, so it needed a lot of coordination between the disciplines.
As members enter the branch, there’s an interactive digital wall area in the vestibule. The project didn’t originally include the ATM vestibule, but it grew to involve that. The interactive wall in the vestibule had been an unused wall, so it makes a big impression and confers a positive difference to the feel of the entranceway. The graphics and other design elements were a collaborative effort between the credit union’s marketing department and our team at Solidus. This whole area evolved during the process, so our designers were really forced to roll with the punches and keep redesigning as they moved along. It became clear to the client as it was being developed that they wanted more seating than had been originally planned. The only way to make room for more seating was to put the tech bar in the ATM vestibule because at this particular location the ATM is only accessible during business hours. The space is within the security wall so there was no issue around the technology being outside. The project scope was then expanded to include that part of the ATM vestibule.
Inside the branch, the ITM wall itself was designed by the credit union’s marketing people and the end result is a lot more playful than what we’d typically design in terms of smart bars and graphic walls. The Solidus team refined their design slightly and created production files for clarification, but it was the first time we’d collaborated with a client marketing team. We also designed a metallic surround for the digital display in the waiting area. The result was a very attractive branded interior, much of it due to the Seasons marketing team’s efforts.
The deep red of the walls was based on one of the credit union’s theme colors. The Seasons branding palette originally came from a painting they had commissioned. In previous branding schemes, the marketing team had capitalized on different sections of this painting (autumnal type colors; rusts, reds, greens, and golds) that they would blow up into a kind of super graphic applied to the walls and branding elements. At this point, they felt they’d exhausted this painting as a finite resource (it still hangs in the office), so the marketing team came up with the idea of the red color. They really wanted a strong color, and this was a red that they’d used in another branch that they’d already completed.
Following the closure of another branch during the design phase, the client decided that instead of the originally planned two ITMs the space now required three. They wanted these to be front and center as members entered the branch. To help members with the transition from the teller line to the technology they decided to put in two universal banker work stations, whose role was to help the members navigate the machines and help them out in any way they could. The challenge was fitting the ITMs into the existing footprint because there were certain things in the center of that area that couldn’t be changed. There was also a corridor down the left side, where there were existing offices. The building is long and linear, and there are restrooms at the far end for the members’ use. The challenge was how to transition to having members walk through the front door, into what is initially a small footprint area with the ITM machines, while conveying to them that they still have access to that back area.
The design evolved around creating a kind of semi-symmetrical space inward from the ATM vestibule, but we also became asymmetrical in terms of how we treated the corridor that ran down the left side. We designed it with angled projections so those angled walls could house marketing materials and branding these so that members could see that there were milestones along that corridor, making the corridor a visually interesting space.
The floor is a beautiful oak woodgrain porcelain plank. We also installed soffits. The acoustics were initially bad due it being such a small area, and so were very loud and lacking privacy, which you want if you’re conducting business on an ITM. To remedy this we installed an acoustical wall covering that softened the sound.
The result is a vibrant member experience with superb branding, cutting edge technology and universal bankers, in a 1,850 sq. ft. branch space.