Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Visalia branch space is a testament to “high tech and high touch,” he added. With an eye toward kicking the customer experience up a notch, a café will also operate inside the branch.
Located in a former Citibank at 501 W. Main St. in Visalia’s downtown core, the branch offers customers an open layout, paperless transactions, free Wi-Fi and cash recycler machines that enable bank staff to conduct cash transactions without customers having to wait in a line.
The cash recycler machines are located at stations throughout the bank, and allow any staff member to assist a customer with a withdrawal or deposit up to five times quicker than an average teller transaction in a traditional bank, McMullan said.
Customers can accompany the staff member to the recycler station, sit in a private waiting area or even have some coffee.
“In addition, these cash recyclers are substantially more secure than the old cash drawers used by most banks,” McMullan said.
When conducting business such as opening an account, clients will use tablet computers instead of filling out paperwork. A large multi-screen video wall will be available for business clients to promote their businesses free of charge, as well as for presentations and other advertising.
With its open layout, concierge service and mobile staff, McMullan said it was fair to compare the new branch experience to that of an Apple store.
The coffee shop will be called Tazz.Coffee, and will be operated through a partnership with Visalia restaurateur James Jessen.
Jessen is the owner of Visalia’s Tazzaria café, in addition to several other Visalia eateries.
It will serve a wide variety of coffees and teas, specialty drinks, sandwiches, pastries and more. McMullan expects Tazz.Coffee to open by next week.
“We are trying to put the word community back into community banking. The local coffee shop has always been a place that Visalians like to meet to catch up with friends, discuss business or politics, quietly read a newspaper, or work on their laptop while keeping an eye on the world going by — all while enjoying an excellent cup of Joe,”McMullan said. “And I can promise you that James Jessen makes the best coffee in town.”
Design and construction of the Visalia branch is a purely local affair. Fresno’s Teter Architects designed it, BJ Perch Construction in Visalia built it and Sonja Sorrick with Core Business Interiors in Fresno provided interior design services.
McMullan said it cost about $2 million to purchase the building, and another $2 million for renovations.
In a time when many banking transactions are moving online, McMullan is focusing on a providing a unique banking experience for customers to experience in the flesh.
“The entire layout and design is modern, open and very welcoming, and is completely different to the stuffy old bank branches customers are used to having to go to,” he said.