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Consumers are melding technology and reality. What does this mean for credit unions? 

This dynamic is having a dramatic impact on credit unions. Like other consumers, credit union members get through each day with the assistance of digital and mobile technologies. They are well versed in these technologies, gravitate toward them and expect to be able to use them everywhere they go – including inside the branch.

Moreover, the growing popularity of “bricks and clicks” is influencing member expectations in credit union branches: “You’re not being compared to other financial institutions. You’re being compared to Walmart and everybody else in retail,” says Sarah Canepa Bang, Chief Strategy Officer for CO-OP Shared Branching. “As long as it’s intuitive and it makes sense, you’re going to see new forms of self-service more and more.”

But just how does a credit union create the perfect blend of bricks and pixels to enhance the in-branch experience for members? A look at best practices from other industries may offer some insights to credit unions racing to transform their branches.

Panera 2.0 Lets Diners Bypass the Line

Panera Bread recently introduced “Panera 2.0,” a new approach to serving diners using mobile and digital technologies. At “2.0” locations, guests no longer have to wait in lines. Instead, they can place dine-in orders using either a smart phone or one of Panera’s “Fast Lane” iPad kiosks, located alongside cashiers.

Kiosk stations feature electronic locators, devices customers carry with them so associates can identify where they are sitting. Smartphone orders can be placed right at the table, and guests simply enter their table numbers. When ready, meals are delivered by servers. To make future transactions even easier, guests can save past orders and “favorites” in the Panera system.

Maximizing Price Savings at Walmart

Inside Walmart stores, kiosks and mobile apps guide customers through everything from pumping gas and printing photos to filling prescriptions and checking out. To help customers maximize their savings, the company now offers a receipt comparison tool called “Savings Catcher.”

Available online and as a mobile app, Savings Catcher allows customers to scan store receipts and compare prices of the items they purchased with those advertised by local competitors. Built on proprietary technology, Savings Catcher looks at other retailers’ ads and gives customers an eGift card for the difference if a competitor’s offering is lower than the price they paid at Walmart.

Delta’s Glass Bottom Jet Puts the Fun Back in Flying

At Delta.com, everything passengers need to manage their flights is a click away, including the ability to book and cancel flights, check in, select seats, check flight status and download an electronic boarding pass. Delta kiosks in the terminal make self-service check-in a snap as well.

But the real jewel in Delta’s digital and mobile offering is its “Glass Bottom Jet” app. This in-flight app allows passengers to view real-time data on the flight’s position, as well as maps and satellite imagery of the landscape below them while they fly. Related photographs, destination guides and social media updates can be accessed as well for added interest.

BMW Wireless Kiosk

BMW’s portable, wireless marketing displays combine advanced touch-screen technology with high-end design elements. Developed by Frank Mayer & Associates, BMW kiosks are shaped like surfboards, wrapped in colorful graphics and designed to fold up nicely for easy transport.

Touch-screen monitors allow consumers to navigate through photos, videos and information on the company’s product line. Removable front panels are easily refreshed with updated graphics as new vehicles, promotions and events are introduced. Employing wireless technology, BMW kiosks can be displayed almost anywhere – from the showroom to the shopping mall – to attract prospective buyers wherever their daily travels take them.

Takeaways for Credit Unions

Today’s consumers expect the speed, convenience and access to information that digital and mobile technologies provide. To meet these expectations, credit unions need to consider transforming their branches using an informed strategy and their available investment of time and resources. Credit unions adopting best practices – and not necessarily from within the movement – will elevate the in-branch experience for members and reap the benefits for years to come.