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Report #608 |

Year One Lab Results: Rethinking Physical Space

The Lab at Filene 2023 Test Results

During its inaugural year, The Lab at Filene has completed the testing of four ideas focused on helping credit unions adapt and thrive in today's marketplace. One of the four solutions was Rethinking Physical Space where participating credit unions and The Lab at Filene gathered qualitative feedback from members regarding the physical presence and use of branches.

Executive Summary

In the changing landscape of financial services, credit union branches are evolving rather than completely vanishing. They play a pivotal role in providing high-touch, empathetic services that ensure financial accessibility, sustain consumer trust, enhance community engagement, and complement digital banking innovations.

There are abundant opportunities to serve members in communities neglected by traditional banksAdapting to the needs of these members might also entail investing in the physical infrastructure of branches, incorporating 'ease of access' features like extended hours, thoughtful layout designs, and the inclusion of drive-thru or walk-up facilities.

Overall, credit unions are tasked with the delicate balance of devising an impactful and financially sustainable strategy for maintaining their physical presence in the communities they are committed to serve. 

Credit Union Case Studies

The Lab at Filene engaged members and staff at two different credit unions with unique branching needs to collect qualitative feedback. This feedback was then used to develop prototype concepts for potential branch designs that would meet the needs and expectations of their members. In this report you will see how the Lab's year 1 test for rethinking physical space focused on answering the following key research questions:

  • How can credit unions optimize their physical presence to foster trust and meet the diverse needs of their membership?
  • What design elements are most effective in facilitating a sense of safety and inclusivity, encouraging members from diverse backgrounds to conduct their financial business with confidence?
  • How can credit unions leverage physical space to create value for members and communities?
  • What impact would a modified physical space have on member engagement and community awareness?

Thank you to La Macchia Group to their generous in-kind contributions and to our participating CUs—Farmers Insurance Group FCU and Verity CU.

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