The Complete Guide to Universal Associates (Part 2) – Setting Your Branches Up for Success with the Right Design and Technology

The Complete Guide to Universal Associates (Part 2) – Setting Your Branches Up for Success with the Right Design and Technology

In part 1 of our Complete Guide to Universal Associates, we explained that the Universal staffing model is not just a passing fad, it’s a repeatable model for success that offers a ton of amazing benefits—it shifts the focus from transactions to interactions, allows your staff to do more with less, and increases your cross-sell ratio while dramatically improving the client experience.

Need to catch up on the Complete Guide to Universal Associates? Read part 1 right here.

Now that you have a better understanding of this winning strategy, it’s time to talk about actually implementing a Universal staffing model in your branch network. While anyone can call their staff “Universal”, it takes the right branch design and technology to make this strategy truly successful.

Designing the Right Branch 

Switching to a Universal staffing model is a holistic shift, and that pivot begins with a branch of the future design that creates an exceptional client journey from start to finish. To get Universal right, you’ll need to make your teller line more accessible so staff can easily transition between roles, ensure staff is available as a first point of contact, make sure all of your spaces are inviting, and create consultation areas that are open, yet allow the right amount of privacy.

Here are some key elements that should be included in any branch that wants to go Universal:


1. Teller Pods

2. Service Spots

3. Flex Offices

4. Community Room

5. Discovery Area





Teller Pods

Replace teller counters with teller pods equipped with cash recyclers to give clients a comfortable place to have consultative conversations, learn more about branch services, and complete standard transactions. Your Universal Associates can also deposit and withdraw cash from the cash recyclers stationed here.


Service Spots

Service Spot removes the barriers of the traditional banking experience and creates a more advisory, retail feel to the branch. Add this space to create a comfortable, quick, private, and consultative area that can be placed anywhere in the branch.


Flex Offices

Include flex offices in your Universal strategy to give both your clients and staff a place to go when performing more complex transactions that require an additional level of privacy. Unlike traditional offices that are limited to one staff member, flex offices can be shared by all members of your staff.

Installing the Right Technology

You can build the perfect branch and have an experienced staff, but if you don’t have the right technology, you won’t be able to take advantage of the Universal model’s biggest benefits. A solid core integration and cash recyclers are a must have—being able to handle cash transactions seamlessly is a core principal of a true Universal strategy.

To maximize the Universal experience in your branch, you’ll seriously want to consider a way to initiate transactions remotely. Remote Transaction Assist is a CFM innovation that uses pin pad technology to allow tellers and associates to move throughout the branch and process transactions from just about anywhere. As you can see in the illustration below, a staff member in a back or flex office can easily perform a withdraw or deposit for a client without disturbing other staff or interrupt clients waiting in line.


For a great example of how all of this comes together, take a look at Pioneer Federal Credit Union’s journey to becoming completely Universal. They moved to an open branch design, implemented Universal Representatives, then added RTA to create a truly Universal model that’s skyrocketed their staff and client experience.

Want to learn the right way to bring Universal Associates into your branch network? Just fill out the short form below and a CFM advisor will be happy to bring you up to speed and make customized recommendations for your unique situation.


Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of our Complete Guide to Universal Associates  – a multi-part series devoted entirely to helping financial institutions understand how to bring the Universal Associate strategy to life.