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It’s time to stop ignoring the branch waiting area

January 16, 2019

Since people have been gathering to make purchases, there have been waiting areas—queues or rows of chairs where people wait for their turn to be served, with varying levels of patience and yearning about how else they might be spending their time.

With the majority of focus being paid to other aspects of the account holder experience, the waiting area has widely been ignored. But let’s face it: no one wants to wait. No one walks into a branch looking forward to being shown to a row of chairs knowing they will soon occupy one of them.  Anything that banks can do to eliminate or at least reduce wait time has an outsized impact on account holder satisfaction. And that is something Suncoast bank cared very much about.

As part of their training, employees at the 66 branches of Suncoast Credit Union are instructed to wait for a single minute, to underscore how long 60 seconds can feel to account holders, says Jenny Torres, Vice President, Service Center Operations. That exercise drives home the importance of prompt service, and Suncoast staff and managers have new tools to help reduce wait time and assist account holders who prefer face-to-face interactions when discussing services ranging from opening a CD to applying for a mortgage to planning their retirement savings strategy.

Personal service remains at the core of Suncoast’s promise to account holders, so the bank is continuously looking for modern tools based on the specific needs and expectations in each market, including maintaining larger facilities in areas with high transaction volume to smaller “coffeehouse-style” locations. Recent extended hours for Saturday access to service personnel and Spanish-speaking staff to serve a growing Hispanic population are examples of their adaptation with account holder needs in mind.

Connecting account holders with the service they’re seeking begins as soon as they walk into a branch. Account holder sign in via Kronos Lobby Tracker system via a convenient kiosk, identify the purpose for their visit, and indicate whether they’d prefer to communicate in English or Spanish. Branch employees are notified immediately that account holders are ready to be served, and the tracking system helps ensure that staff arrive promptly to assist account holders in order of their arrival.

Keeping an eye out for account holders seeking assistance in the lobby is no longer a “line of sight” responsibility, Torres notes. The automated tracking system provides regular on-screen reminders about how long account holders have been waiting, prompting account holder service staff to finish up their current tasks and head to the lobby to greet them. Suncoast has experienced a notable improvement in reductions in wait time since implementing this system, she says.

The capability to enhance prompt service delivery is not limited to individual branches. GECU is implementing a “global queuing” system across its 20 locations in the El Paso, Texas, area to connect account holders on a timely basis with its centralized lending operation, says Jacque Valdez, Assistant Vice President of Branch Operations.

Previously, branch employees contacted lenders via a back-and-forth series of emails and phone calls when account holders walked into a branch for a loan consultation. The Lobby Tracker system has helped streamline that process so that account holders are guided to a workstation for a video conference with a lender. Incorporating technology into the queuing process has reduced wait time for account holders by up to five minutes on average, Valdez says.

Suncoast has experienced similar results since implementing lobby tracker software: An average three-minute assist-time reduction in loan interactions has saved 600 staff hours over the past year, and the credit union has logged 340 fewer branch abandons in the same period. Because the system captures information about account holders who do leave without receiving assistance, branch staff can follow up via phone call or email to ask how they can help.

This new approach to reducing wait time has helped Suncoast meet its goal of an 80 percent Net Promoter Score and contributed to a 20 percent increase in loan activity with a simultaneous 10 percent decrease in loan assist times, Torres reports.

Branch employees can use data collected by lobby tracking software to raise the bar on account holder service in diverse ways. To share two examples, GECU collected information on problems reported by account holders during a recent card conversion to speed the identification and resolution of those issues, and Suncoast CU was able to help a family by tracing locations and dates where account holder’s account had been accessed without permission. (Don’t want to discuss particulars…especially compared to the example of GECU…ours sounds like CRIME. Make sense?)

One additional benefit of introducing technology in the branch lobby is a wealth of useful data to guide performance evaluations and coaching. Supervisors can gauge whether individualized training on specific skill sets is needed based on the amount of time each employee spends with account holders for different types of transactions. In addition, managers can monitor sales and better target coaching by reviewing with staff the specific results on what single service account holders request when they enter the branch and what additional products and services they sign on for during their consultations.

In combination, the versatile applications of putting automation to work at the forefront of account holder service is chipping away at original purpose of the waiting area. And no one will complain about that.

Growing branch concerns for all collar workers

January 4, 2019

From tellers to loan managers, keeping employees engaged is critical—especially in the branch where there is a direct correlation with account holder service. For all collar workers emerging banking technologies, changing account holder expectations and the increasing appeal of technology firms trying to attract top talent can have a significant impact on morale.

It’s important to tackle these engagement challenges head on through proactive approaches like improved onboarding, investing in the right branch digital solutions and staying in compliance through improved analytics.


With a more planned out and deliberate approach, onboarding in the branch can be a hassle-free process that allows organizations to focus on the human part of human resources. Learn how to improve your onboarding in this eBook titled, Improved Best Practices for Onboarding.

Branch digital solutions

By applying digital solutions to your workforce, you can foster engaged employees who are scheduled to meet the needs of the branch as well as account holders, so you can deliver an exceptional customer journey and improved performance for your organization.

For example, with the right branch scheduling solutions, ready access to employee profiles not only streamlines schedule creation, but it also simplifies cross-utilization and reallocation of resources within the branch for better service, higher efficiency, and most importantly—more productive and satisfied staff members.

Another example, is lobby management software. Staff members value the reduction of stress that a more streamlined queue management system provides. As the branch customer journey improves, your employee engagement will as well.

Staying in Compliance

Hot topics in employee engagement are pay equity and overtime pay. Branch management generally leans heavily on HR to make sure they are in compliance around these topics. However, compliance regulations for hourly and salaried employees can be challenging, with varying mandates based on employment status and location. And without the proper insights, information, and tools, you could put your organization at risk for unnecessary compliance litigation. Learn more about how you can use the right analytics tools to mitigate compliance here.

The digital transformation is well underway at financial institutions, with most of the emphasis being placed on developing mobile and online solutions for account holders. Successful institutions will look for ways to implement digital technologies across all areas of the institution as well, reinventing the branch for both account holders and all collar employees.

Learn more here


Did Your Bank Make This Best Branch Network Strategy Ranking Report?

December 21, 2018

BankDirector recently released it’s annual ranking report, which evaluated the following 10 categories that are important factors in bank performance.

  • Best Branch Network Strategy
  • Best Commercial Lending Strategy
  • Best Core Deposit Growth Strategy
  • Best Corporate Citizen
  • Best Retail Strategy
  • Best Bank for Millennial Employees
  • Best Technology Strategy
  • Best M&A Strategy
  • Best Small Business Strategy
  • Best Board

The one category this blog was most interested in was the Best Branch Network Strategy. Find out if your bank made the top 25 here.

Not surprisingly, an emphasis was put on driving branch efficiency and growth by utilizing the right data. Learn how to gain data-driven insights for more effective branch staffing.

Predicting Most Profitable Customer Behaviors is Key to Branch Revenue Growth

December 14, 2018

There are billions of dollars spent every year toward improving account holder experience in the branch, and in many cases financial institutions are left scratching their heads on the ROI.

Sure there are several high level metrics to account for sales and service. However, these KPI’s are not nuanced enough to determine such activities like how account holders feel a financial institution is helping them realize personal values, attaining freedom and independence in life or simplifying life in a complicated world.

In a new white paper from Motista, titled Making the Emotional Connection: Financial Services, the case is made around measuring and managing these nuances in the emotional connection organizations have with their customers.

Emotional Connection_general

Historically, institutions have two categories when measuring account holder service – satisfied and dissatisfied. This dated-approach leads to marketing investments into a broader spectrum, as opposed to a more targeted or tactical area. While some account holders are dissatisfied with a specific institution, most are actually unhappy with a particular sector of the business, like credit cards in the above chart.

When you dive deeper into the nuanced data you can see even the impact of more engaged account holders into specific areas, like mortgages in the below chart.

emotional connection_mortgage

Clearly, investing in customer experience solutions like lobby management software can have significant gains. However, it’s critical to understand the nuance measurements in order to more tactically invest in the branch.

See modern branch software in action and how it can improve the branch experience here.

In the Branch, Hassle-Free Onboarding is Critical

December 7, 2018


With attrition rates in the branch running as high as 40 percent, it’s extremely important to focus efforts on ways to improve employee engagement. Effective onboarding can lead to improved retention, reduced turnover, and faster time to productivity.

Download this infographic, which highlights how financial institutions are more likely to have direct goals for their onboarding programs that include: integrating new employees into the culture, creating new-hire buy-in with organizational business strategy, clarifying responsibilities of roles, and reducing time to proficiency.

With the right tools, onboarding can be a hassle-free process that allows organizations to focus on the human part of human resources.

Future Branches Must See Sessions

November 27, 2018

Kronos is excited to once again be exhibiting at Future Branches in Austin, TX next week. The show that is billed as the only conference that explores how leading financial institutions are revamping retail banking technology, retooling front line associates, and creating the branch and retail banking experience of the future has a ton of promising sessions. The below are the ones we recommend you check out.

  • Tuesday 12/4 at 11:05, Panel: Picking the In-Branch Technology That Works Best For Your Employees and Your Customers It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new piece of tech, but are you truly thinking about how it can be useful for your customers?
  • Tuesday 12/4 at 12:00, Branch Technology Roundtables, Customer Engagement Technology Critical to Increasing Branch Sales
  • Tuesday 12/4 at 2:45, Going Fully Automated: Does it Make Sense for You? Is this even something that is necessary? What kind of savings will you see for something like this?

See the full agenda here, and make sure to stop by booth 106 & 108 to see a demo of our industry leading branch lobby management software.

New Digital Banking Report Relays the Critical Importance of Innovation

November 20, 2018

Innovation-in-Retail-Banking-Cover-small-for-web.jpgA new study by Digital Banking Report doubles down on the importance of innovation in the sector to keep up with tech alternatives.

“It is clear from this year’s report, and the reports from the past, that great progress around innova­tion has been made, but that there is still much to do. The increasing demands of the consumer, fueled by digital experiences from technology lead­ers, is relegating the banking industry to playing a game of ‘catch up’. This is especially true with smaller organizations, who often lack the resources to deliver the digital functionality of larger peers.”

Learn of some of the latest branch innovations.

New Study: Unplanned Absence Wreaks Havoc on Retail Store Operations

November 9, 2018

According to a new study by the Workforce Institute at Kronos the effects that unplanned absences have on store operations, which, according to more than half of retail managers worldwide (52 percent), is one of their organization’s most difficult, complex, and time-consuming issues.  Most notably, for every 10 hours of in-store labor budgeted, more than one hour is wasted due to staffing misalignment caused by unplanned employee absence.

Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos says of the study, “Business performance has always been tightly aligned with how well you are able to stick to a plan. The corrosive effects of absenteeism can swiftly knock retailers’ plans off course and erode performance potential. How you minimize and manage absence is critical to staying on target, and it starts with understanding employee preferences, considering their availability, and making it easy for them to modify their schedule or swap a shift as needed. After all, employees who work schedules built around their preferred hours and availability and who are empowered by self-service workforce management technology will be happier, have fewer instances of absence, be more productive, and have a longer tenure.”

Retail banking managers should take note of these trends as they can play a critical role in their workforce engagement and efficiency.

See more details around the study results here.


Transform onboarding in the branch from a paper-laden burden to a happy occasion

October 29, 2018

Starting a new job should be an exciting opportunity, but too often the first day begins with uncertainty and confusion (Where do I park? Who should I ask for when I arrive?) followed by seemingly endless, mind-numbing paperwork. Let’s compare that traditional experience—something most everyone has been through—to what onboarding could be.

First, the standard approach: Top candidates receive, negotiate and accept job offers and then don’t hear from their recruiting or hiring managers for weeks. They have to follow up to find out any details about their first day. When they arrive, they are ushered to a conference room where they spend hours filling out forms, thumbing through policy manuals and watching training videos. Their workstation may not be ready, they’re on their own to figure out lunch, and their manager may be too busy to welcome them until the end of an exhausting day.

Now let’s envision a better start: New employees receive an email from the recruiter within days of accepting job offers, with a warm welcome, an agenda for the first day, an introduction to the organization and maybe even their new team, and links to required documents in paperless format with instructions on how to complete them electronically at their convenience.

When they arrive for their first day, new hires are treated as VIPs, greeted at the front door by their recruiter, manager, and/or new colleagues, who present them with a personalized gift of company swag. After a quick tour, they spend the morning (or day) learning about the organization and have lunch with their supervisors. When their initial orientation is completed, they are guided to meet their team and learn about how their training will proceed.

In short, suggests a new ebook from Kronos, “Improved Best Practices for Onboarding,

What you need to know to create a more effective new-hire strategy in financial services,” employers can design a new-hire strategy to “simplify the process for your HR team while delighting your new hires with a more positive experience.” The goal in re-envisioning onboarding is to enhance retention of new employees and to improve training and coaching so that they are more productive more quickly. The benefits of developing a more effective onboarding process could show up in:

  • reduced turnover, with a corresponding decline in recruiting and training costs;
  • improved service delivery and related financial results through a faster transition from new hire to trainee to proficient employee; and
  • positive buzz from new employees that offers an advantage in a competitive hiring market.

As the Kronos guide sums it up, “a good onboarding plan gives new hires clear direction from the start on their responsibilities and goals, provides solid training to set them up for success early, encourages engagement with their manager and coworkers, and monitors for trends to keep them on the right track.”

‘Gifted’ new employees

Union Bank & Trust, Lincoln, Neb., upgraded its onboarding program with the aim “to make it more of an experience for new employees than just showing up and getting paperwork shoved at them,” HRIS & Benefits Coordinator Katie Davis says.

In fact, a lot of that paperwork is behind them by the time they officially launch their careers with UB&T. In their “preboarding” phase, new staff members have the opportunity on their own time to review and sign required documents online through an automated paperless DocuSign system.

Now when they arrive for their first day, new employees are greeted with a personalized gift bag that includes a UB&T branded pen, tumbler and tee shirt to wear when volunteering in the community for their company. Their first-day orientation includes viewing a short video on the bank’s 100-year history that also introduces its CEO and a PowerPoint presentation reviewing the documents they have signed previously.

Other onboarding enhancements are a new employee checklist for managers to keep everyone on track with all the first-day and first-week introductions, Davis notes. For example, managers line up colleagues to have lunch with their new team member every day for their first week on the job.

Proactive, positive, productive

UB&T’s example demonstrates many of the elements at the core of revamping the onboarding process: automating the paper trail, planning a positive first day and first week for new employees, and lightening the load for HR and hiring managers with a handy checklist for scheduling and implementing each step in welcoming and training new employees—not just for the first day, but for the three to six months required for new hires to develop their skills, competencies and confidence to fully handle their responsibilities and get comfortable in their work environment.

Our new ebook sets out onboarding essentials from the first day (make sure the tour includes pointing out where the rest rooms are!) through the next six months (a final HR check-in to make sure employees are settled in and to seek their feedback on the process).

An additional advantage of establishing a formal onboarding program is that HR and hiring managers can more easily assess the effectiveness of its elements and monitor outcomes. Ongoing evaluation with the aim of fine-tuning the new-hire strategy brings this process full circle. Monitor turnover rates, especially among employees in the first six months. Establish your metrics for proficiency and then measure how long it takes new employees to get there. Set up regular check-ins with the HR team, trainers and managers to ensure completion of onboarding steps and discuss any useful modifications in the process.

Effective onboarding can and should be a positive experience for new employees and their managers and coworkers as their newest colleagues become productive contributors. Perhaps the best evidence that the process is working is that it will be needed less often as those new hires become long-term, impactful members of the team.

New Infographic Links Increased Sales Opportunities to Branch Appointment Software

October 19, 2018


A new infographic from Kronos for Banking clearly shows that branch interactions booked through appointment technology is significantly greater than sales generated through walk-in branch interactions.

Why? Because online appointment-setting technology provides branches with the information needed to assign branch staffing resources – and ultimately produce more sales. The infographic also demonstrates that online appointment technology supports the cross-selling of services.

Tracking cross-sell metrics allows financial institutions to provide targeted cross-selling coaching to individual employees for better results.

Download this informative infographic to learn how appointment software gives branches the information needed to schedule the right staff at the right times to deliver optimal service levels and drive sales.