Coast Capital Savings Credit Union

Coast Capital Savings Credit Union

June 13, 2005 12:00 ET

Coast Capital Savings Re-Invents Banking With New 'No-Barrier' Aperio Store Concept

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - June 13, 2005) - Coast Capital Savings is again redefining banking in Canada with the unveiling of a unique new branch concept that consigns teller counters, velvet ropes and stanchions to banking history and makes branch staff more accessible to help customers.

The B.C.-based credit union's revolutionary aperio store (aperio comes from the Latin word for "to make open") is aimed at attracting those seeking a fresh and customer-centred approach to banking from their financial institutions. The first of Coast Capital Savings' three aperio stores planned for 2005 was opened today at the Meadowtown Centre mall in Pitt Meadows.

"Aperio will bring branch design into the 21st century and as the name suggests, it will provide an open and accessible, customer-owned space that facilitates helpful and high quality service," said Lloyd Craig, Coast Capital Savings president and CEO. "We want to be an innovator in the financial services industry, not just in British Columbia but across Canada. Our aperio store will set Coast Capital Savings apart as one of the nation's leaders in retail banking."

Craig said the aperio design is backed by a customer service approach that will facilitate a more personal banking experience for customers. Customers will be greeted on arrival and instead of working across a counter divide, they will stand side-by-side at specially designed help stations with staff trained in a retail-approach to customer service.

"Customers will be able to view their transactions on the computer monitor, giving them full access to their financial records," Craig added. "We are revolutionizing banking by thinking like a responsive retailer that designs its stores around the consumer's needs."

Other features of the 3,500 square feet aperio store include the lack of an office for the manager, who is readily accessible on the banking floor to welcome and help customers, and a CoastKids room that teaches children about money and keeps them occupied while parents complete their banking. It will also have touch-screen terminals positioned at vantage points, enabling customers to access customized information about Coast Capital Savings products and services and community events, and provide feedback on the new concept.

"Visit any bank branch today and you're struck by the often impersonal approach to customer service, which is not helped by all the artificial barriers, hidden offices and closed doors, and the veil of secrecy surrounding your financial transaction," said Mike Bushore, Coast Capital Savings senior vice president, strategic planning. "Our brand promise and mission is all about helping our customers. So, we went back to the drawing board, threw out all preconceptions about what a conventional branch should look like, and created a radical new design from the ground up that's responsive to customers' needs."

Bushore said the aperio concept is more than simply brick and mortar, and is an entire shift in the approach to customer service.

"It's really about knocking down barriers that come between the customer and the high quality services and products they expect from their financial institution. That's what our free chequing account, accessible mortgages and extended hours have accomplished," Bushore said. "We're not only bringing down physical barriers, but more important, we're overturning the cultural barriers and attitudes prevailing in the industry that stand in the way of providing value-driven products and great service to customers."

Coast Capital Savings plans to convert all its current branches on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to the aperio design over the long term. This will be done with a phased approach that will enable continuing investments in the opening of new aperio stores. Plans are nearing completion for the opening of two additional aperio stores in Coquitlam and Surrey this year, and three more are scheduled to be opened in 2006.

The Pitt Meadows aperio store will operate extended hours Tuesday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The store is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Coast Capital Savings is Canada's second largest credit union with $7.2 billion in assets, 300,000 members and 45 branches across the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island. The credit union was the first full-service financial institution to introduce free chequing in Canada. Coast Capital Savings is one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies and was the recipient of the 2004 Imagine award for being the best corporate citizen in Canada's financial services industry.

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