July 11, 2012

St. Paul, Minnesota-based Affinity Plus Credit Union announced a new pilot branch model using transaction technology from NCR that will free up the bank's member advisors to focus on individual customer interactions. Affinity Plus (asset size $1.9 billion) hopes that the new model will transform the traditional branch environment and improve member experience in the branch.

The new model's layout will include 10 individual workstations where member advisors will conduct conversations with customers. The workstations will bring the advisors out from behind the glass teller wall and into the middle of the branch. The new model also includes internet stations and a kid's play area to help change the customer experience.

"Several years ago, we realized that our traditional branch design was isolating our member advisors from truly interacting with our members," Sarah Mason, vice president of Affinity Plus, said in a statement. "Standing in line and talking to a person behind a wall didn't achieve the level of personalization and relationship building that we would prefer for our members."

Each station will include TCR's, automated recycling technology from NCR, that is designed to make branch transactions faster and more efficient. This, Duluth, Georgia-based NCR said in the statement, will allow advisors to focus on customer service and cross-selling. NCR's APTRA Cash Connect software lets the recycling technology interface with the branch's teller application to quickly and securely dispense and deposit cash, checks and money orders, eliminating the need for a cash drawer and allowing advisors to come out from behind the glass wall. It will also, NCR said, allow advisors to work without the worry of constant vault buys and sells.

"While there is great diversity among branch transformation initiatives, a common element is the use of transaction automation," Bob Meara, senior analyst at Celent, said in NCR's statement. ""Automating routine transactions, particularly this involving cash and checks, frees front line staff to better understand and meet customer needs."

[See Related: Keeping ATM's Relevant: New NCR System Combines Mobile and ATM Channels ]

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...