CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa － New technology is rapidly changing consumer behavior, and many industries are adjusting their strategies to accommodate their customers. In the financial services industry, financial institutions are focusing on improving customer experience – rather than transaction selling – by giving customers the ability to engage whenever and wherever they want. Many credit unions have adopted this approach by enabling their members to conduct business online through websites and custom mobile apps, in a branch, or by phone.
A common misconception is that most young adults only want to bank online, but research shows that 66% of Millennials – persons aged 22 through 37 – have visited their credit union’s branch in the last six months. While Gen X and Baby Boomer members do visit their chosen branch more frequently than Millennials, financial industry leaders have concluded that this research demonstrates Millennials still desire a human connection to manage certain banking tasks or actions.
Since 1940, Collins Community Credit Union has observed how its members and their needs have evolved over the last 80 years. As the company has grown to become a $1.3 billion financial institution, the leadership team at Collins Community Credit Union recently announced big plans to continue honoring their members by enhancing branch and members experiences for years to come.
Rather than building a traditional headquarters, Collins Community Credit Union is building a 100,000 square foot, state-of-the-art community space in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the company has deep community roots – and it wants its members to be a huge part of it. The project is expected to be completed by Spring of 2020.
Though there has been speculation over the years that branch locations won’t survive the digital era, Collins Community Credit Union wants to utilize its brick-and-mortar branches to create more opportunities to connect with members. John Lewis, the Vice President of IT and Facilities, explained that Collins Community Credit Union plans to include retail and collaborative community spaces to facilitate human interaction.
The space will feature a gym, rooftop studio, collaborative spaces, and gender-inclusive restrooms on the first floor. Because the facility is in a high-traffic area and in Iowa’s second-largest city, Collins Community Credit Union anticipates the area designated for retailers – a total of 9,500 square feet – will be filled by burgeoning local businesses.
The first floor will be open to the public and will include a 12,600 square foot Collins Community Credit Union branch. To provide room for offices, conference rooms, and break-out spaces, the branch will feature movable walls, allowing the space to transform based on changing needs.
“Think cubicle, but floor-to-ceiling – and much higher-end,” explains Lewis. “These walls create flexibility for future needs and can be rearranged as needed. They’re better for the environment, too, as they are recyclable and don’t create construction waste.”
While the concept of gender-neutral restrooms is still new in Cedar Rapids, Lewis explains that Stefanie Rupert, CEO of Collins Community Credit Union, was adamant about making forward-thinking decisions and helping all members feel welcomed and respected. The restrooms are laid out like a traditional restroom but feature floor-to-ceiling walls, instead of individual stalls, to create and ensure privacy.
“The conversation regarding gender identity is changing,” said Lewis. “Our CEO wants to make a statement. She wants to plan for 20 years or more at this location.”
To accommodate the national changes in work environments, the headquarters building will also feature collaborative spaces on the top two floors for employees to use. These rooms will be equipped with A/V conference technology, which will allow employees to easily and conveniently meet with branch managers in other markets to increase internal relationships and communication across all Collins Community Credit Union markets.
The second floor will feature space for a call center and deposit and underwriting operations, while the third floor will house executive offices and offices for human resources, IT, and the marketing team.
Upon opening, the credit union will have 150 employees working in the space, but plenty of additional space available to comfortably accommodate up to 330 employees as staffing needs grow.
Between teller cash recyclers, interactive teller machines, self-service coin counters, and deposit automation, technology does play a large role in the financial industry. Collins Community Credit Union recognizes how technology can make their operations more efficient and plans to integrate certain technological strategies that augment the member experience.
Though Collins Community Credit Union is incorporating several technological and environmental amenities, some options were ultimately deemed a poor fit. “We opted not to include geothermal heating for the facility based on our conversations with other corporations who said they regretted it while trying to keep up with extreme temperatures,” Lewis explained. Because Iowa does experience extreme temperature changes, with 50° changes sometimes occurring overnight in any season, using geothermal energy was not a sustainable option.
To fund their real estate development project, Collins Community Credit Union created a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO). “We weren’t necessarily interested in owning a corporate building,” Lewis said. “It made more sense for us to lease it from the CUSO to keep investment options open in the future.”
The new headquarters space is an opportunity to test the CUSO concept. As Collins Community Credit Union expands into new markets, it anticipates a series of future construction projects.
Currently, Collins Community Credit Union has sixteen branches located in five metro markets across the state of Iowa.
Betsy McCloskey is the Founder and Partner at Plaid Swan Inc. She has more than 24 years’ experience working in the marketing industry and excels in strategic planning, public relations, creative concepts and business development. In addition, Betsy provides consultation to clients and their in-house marketing teams by offering her proven methods of strategy, research, and business planning.