Within an old historic building, Cambridge Savings Bank has combined the best of traditional charm with the comfort of innovation in their newest branch, their first branch in Boston, located in the old Five Cent Bank Building in Thompson Square.
The new branch has been under construction for several months on the first floor of the building – opposite the new Starbucks’ Coffee Shop location – and opened on Monday, Jan. 29, with great fanfare. It is a new location for the company and a new market for them.
Branch Manager Jane Gricci has been welcoming everyone to the new branch, signing up new customers and welcoming existing customers – and also enjoying the view from the beautiful, new, glass-lined branch.
“It’s been very exciting to open things up,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of neighbors coming in to see what we’ve done. We actually have had a few customers who already opened up accounts months ago at our Harvard Square location in anticipation of this branch opening. Once we opened, they came in and were happy to see the new location.”
Added Lisa Rodericks, director of marketing for the bank, “People like our concept. A few customers have already told us it’s more friendly and open. There isn’t a wall in the way of them speaking with the tellers and staff. They felt everyone was the same and everyone can talk face-to-face. They don’t experience that big barrier between us.”
That open concept referred to by Rodericks is a hallmark of the new Charlestown branch, which is only the second branch in their network to be renovated and outfitted with a new concept for banking.
The concept is most notable in that there are no tellers or lines or “stations” such as at bigger banks. Instead, a service team is available behind a welcoming front desk and there are plenty of areas to talk face to face. One can even make a deposit while visiting with the teller in a comfortable chair.
Likewise, there aren’t designated areas like in some banks. The manager or loan officer is just as apt to help with a deposit as a member of the service team.
“We just started this concept with the renovation of our Porter Square branch last year,” Rodericks said. “This is only the second location where we have implemented it. We found from our customers that they enjoyed when workers in the bank can help any customer…We want to make sure everyone in the bank can help any customer.”
Another highlight of the new branch is the Collaboration Room, which functions as a community room and can be reserved by organizations, small businesses and non-profits for meetings – including meetings after closing hours. In the Charlestown branch, the corner room looks out on Thompson Square and has an historic fireplace, a screen for presentations, a printer and many other necessities to conduct a successful meeting.
“That’s something we really wanted to provide to the community, to have a space for them to conduct business and further the interests of the community,” said Rodericks.
The branch also features some really interesting technology to make banking easier.
For those who don’t want to be bothered with having to get out their ID or bank card or other paperwork to make transactions, the service desk at the front has a palm scanner. One simply puts their palm up to an electronic reader, and in seconds the computer terminal brings up all of your account information to the bank employee.
“It’s so quick and easy and secure,” said Gricci. “You don’t have to remember passwords or IDs. It scans the palm in about two seconds and you can do anything you want with your account. It is very unique to a bank.”
In addition to that, the Cambridge Savings Bank branch featured Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) instead of the traditional ATM. The machine is just like an ATM, but the difference lies in the fact that a customer can call up a real person on the screen to help them with any sort of problem. They call this service Video Banking and it is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Both the Video Banker – who is a local employee – and the customer can talk back and forth on the screen. The ITM also allows customers to cash a check and get exact change.
The bank can also print a permanent debit card on site, so there is not waiting for days without access to one’s account.
Beyond the comfort of the banking, one can also marvel and the beauty of the renovation.
One Thompson Square is an historic building and is protected by the Boston Landmarks Commission, so renovations don’t come easy. The bank renovation has kept many key components to make one feel like they’re in a modern bank branch, but well within a hallowed historic area.
Some nods to that history in the branch include an historic map of Charlestown lining the wall, as well as a replicated original blue print of the Five Cent Bank on the outside walls.
The branch is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Charlestown branch plans to have a series of Open Houses for the community Feb. 27 through March 1 between 9-11 a.m. each day.