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Where banking technology has been and is going: New Infographic

November 27, 2017

NCR recently published this infographic titled 50 Years of ATM.  An interesting piece showing where banking technology has been and where it’s going.

See the infographic here.


Webinar: Optimizing the Branch in a Digital World

November 17, 2017

Register for our webinar taking place on 12/13/17 at 2:00 pm EST to learn how your institution can deploy digital technologies in the branch to deliver a better experience to account holders. Allowing account holders to make appointments ahead of time, monitoring lobby activity to ensure prompt service, and capturing feedback quickly and easily can give your organization the best of both worlds.

See how branches are reinventing the branch with digital technology. Our experts will explore how you can:

  • Make appointments more convenient and effective
  • Put the branch lobby to work for you
  • Capture feedback with a simple smile or frown button
  • Nurture an engaged, productive workforce
  • Schedule for productivity and optimal service

Register now

Account Openings Without Going to a Bank Branch

November 8, 2017

Banking apps have made many people’s lives simpler.  Checking balances on the go and remote deposit capture have been a great time-saver, but when it comes to opening accounts consumers still generally have to visit a branch.

Wells Fargo recently announced a new standalone mobile-first app, called Greenhouse, that is designed to change this.

“Combining personal finance management tools with Wells Fargo banking, the Greenhouse experience will help consumers pay bills on time, spend confidently and start to build a savings cushion,” Wells Fargo said in a statement.

An ideal app for the under-banked and the younger generation, it’s an innovative step into the future and other bankers and fintechs should take note.

“Whether you are new to banking, don’t have regular paychecks, or typically manage money with cash, we believe the Greenhouse experience can help you manage day-to-day spending while planning for the future,” Wells Fargo added.

Time will tell how apps, like Greenhouse, will change the mainstream customer journey, but in the meantime the branch is still a major channel for most institutions.  Learn how banks are optimizing the branch in a digital world in our latest white paper—a free download here.

White Paper: Optimizing the Branch in a Digital World

October 27, 2017

asset-thumbnail-sd0258New white paper reviews how successful financial institutions deploy digital technologies across all areas of the institution, reinventing the branch for account holders and employees.

See how digital technology can improve branch sales, productivity, service, and employee engagement.

A free download here.

Bridge the Digital–Branch Divide

October 13, 2017

Deploy technology to enhance personal service and create a competitive edge

There’s a tendency to assume that new ways of doing business will supplant what’s already in place, but people continually demonstrate a strong preference to supplement rather than replace.

Nowhere is this inclination clearer than in financial services. Digital advances in the form of remote check deposits and e-signatures have all but closed the loop on full-service automated delivery: The technology is now available so that consumers can open, access, and manage their accounts without ever stepping foot inside a credit union or bank. And yet, many continue to do so. Some accountholders conduct all their financial business in person, while many others choose to stop by a branch occasionally. Even those who rely exclusively on online access appreciate knowing that experienced professionals are available at the nearest branch whenever they’d like to consult on how best to achieve their financial goals.

For the foreseeable future, the branch—and the personal service delivered there—is here to stay. According to the 2017 FMSI Teller Line Study, average monthly transaction volume per branch increased 10 percent over the last five years, reversing what had been a steady 20-year decline. Despite some right-sizing in branch networks over the past eight years, U.S. financial institutions still maintain more than 91,000 offices.

For most of your accountholders, it’s not about branch or remote access. They want the best possible service via whatever channel they choose. To deliver on those expectations, seek out and deploy the most effective tools to maximize customer relationships across channels. Instead of focusing on digital over branch delivery, consider these five technology solutions to improve frontline service and efficiency.

  1. Appointment scheduling software

To acknowledge that their time is a valuable commodity, give accountholders a convenient means to schedule an appointment to open an account, apply for a loan, or seek guidance on financial matters. With advance notice through an appointment app, branch managers can adjust scheduling, if necessary, to ensure that a financial professional trained to handle the request will be ready and prepared for the interaction. In addition, appointment software offers useful data on the types and patterns of service requests at each branch to support staff scheduling and training.

  1. Lobby tracker software

Business runs on data these days, and lobby tracker software provides a wealth of information, when its electronic queue management system records the services accountholders want as soon as they walk through the door. Managers can use this data to manage service levels in real time by monitoring wait time and responding promptly to direct employees to the frontlines as lines begin to form.

Lobby tracker software also measures average assist time by employees, by branch, and across the organization, so managers can assess whether further training is needed and what impact changes in the approach to service may have on staffing needs. For example, encouraging member service staff to spend more time chatting with accountholders to identify their needs for additional products and services may increase sales but also require additional staffing during busy periods if customer interactions are taking longer.

Other useful data that can be gathered through these systems includes rate of product vs. service interactions, top products sold by branch, number of accountholders served and timing of visits, and cross-sells by employee and branch. With this data in hand, managers can more accurately determine the performance level of each branch to support the view of the branch network as a sales center. In addition, detailed information facilitates infrastructure planning to downsize or expand the branch network.

  1. Member service feedback software

While lobby tracker software captures information before and during service interactions, other automated systems invite members to rate the service they received as they head out the door. Friendly kiosks with simple, engaging rating systems can capture service performance data instantly, providing more immediate evaluations of customer service in greater volume than mailed or online surveys. Faster feedback means managers can act more quickly to correct service lapses.

  1. HR software

The use of technology to help optimize human capital is on the rise, from prehire through leadership development. At many financial institutions, turnover is highest among frontline employees. Losing staff, especially quick turnover within the first few months, is costly in terms of hiring and training expenses—and in lower levels of productivity and member service as new employees learn on the job. The best way to reduce turnover is to hire the best candidates. Predictive analytic software can pinpoint characteristics of top performers and help identify applicants with those traits.

As noted previously, lobby tracker software can help monitor and manage employee productivity and identify training needs. Automated surveys measure employee engagement, especially shorter “pulse” surveys that offer staff regular opportunities to share their views on the work environment. Talent management systems are designed to facilitate development of career tracks to enhance employee satisfaction and retention; to optimize performance management; and to identify and help groom tomorrow’s leaders.

  1. Forecasted scheduling and workforce optimization software

Staff scheduling software automates the most cost-effective alignment of staff to branch traffic and activity patterns, based on data from core processing systems and platform systems such as lobby tracker software. Working together, these systems facilitate efficient scheduling of full- and part-time staff to hold the line on operating costs while improving service by more accurately scheduling the right staff to be in the right place at the right time. In addition, automated scheduling provides for time-blocking frontline staff schedules for secondary duties such as sales training and outbound sales calls.

Innovations such as these systems will continue to up the ante on consumers’ views of what constitutes high-quality service. Many accountholders will continue to appreciate a full range of options for interacting with their primary financial institution. This embrace of choices is evident elsewhere: Even as Amazon dominates online retail, expect to see more physical storefronts bearing its logo to sell goods shoppers prefer to buy in person. As Ron Miller notes in a recent TechCrunch article [], self-driving cars and restaurants with automated systems to take orders and deliver meals will serve a purpose but won’t replace people’s desire to get behind the wheel or choose a more traditional dining experience.

“Technology marches relentlessly forward, and it would be foolish to argue otherwise, but some things remain fundamental, and people-to-people communication will continue to be one of them,” Miller contends. By setting aside an either-or view of delivery channels in favor of deploying digital systems to work to improve branch service, your organization can keep pace with accountholders’ expectations for best-in-class service across the board.

This article originally appeared in Credit Union Business Magazine



The New and Improved Retail Branch Experience

September 25, 2017

As technology in banks and credit unions evolve so does the consumer. And when it comes to visiting their financial institutions, the patterns of consumer behavior are changing according to a new study from Kronos. The recently conducted FMSI Appointment Study offers insights on which transactions bring people to branches and when they prefer to consult on their financial needs.

The study conducted by FMSI analysts validates the crucial role that branch service plays in omnichannel service delivery. Despite the changes in the industry with advances in remote delivery facilitating mobile loan applications and access to a full range of services online, many account holders still look for the face to face experience with financial professionals when conducting their business. Additionally, consumers appreciate the option to schedule an appointment at the financial institutions that include appointment-scheduling apps among their mobile offering, according to the research. The study found that branch visits by appointment outnumber walk-ins during several prime business hours.

The FMSI Appointment Study analyzes proprietary data on nearly 1,500 appointments scheduled at more than 160 branches located across North America in February 2017. Applying findings from this snapshot of consumer behavior may help your institutions improve branch service and performance and simultaneously evaluate the usefulness of offering account holders the option to schedule appointments for branch visits.

Identifying consumer preferences

One of the main objectives of our analysis was to identify patterns in time and day of the week preferences for scheduling appointments. When looking at ­­­branches in this study, visits by appointment outnumbered walk-in traffic during the morning and late afternoon hours. The most common hours to schedule appointments were at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 4 p.m. In comparison, walk-in traffic was typically low in the morning and most prevalent around the lunch hour, tapering off through the afternoon.

Fridays have traditionally been the busiest days for banking due to the fact that it is payday for most people, and this was a pattern that was reflected at branches included in the study. Visits by appointment outpaced walk-ins at these locations on Fridays, Saturdays, and Thursdays, suggesting that accountholders take advantage of the option to book appointments on days when they expect the branch to be a busy place.

The study also quantified appointments kept vs. no-shows. The vast majority of accountholders who took the time to schedule an appointment showed up and met with branch staff. During the study period, 84 percent of appointments were assigned and completed, 12 percent were canceled before the appointment, and only 4 percent were no-shows. Of those no-shows, 43 percent occurred during the 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. time slots, suggesting that it may be helpful to send reminders the day before appointments.

A key and final focus of the Appointment Study was to identify the types of services requested by consumers scheduling branch visits. According to the research, the majority of the appointments involved lending consultations, including consumer loans, mortgages, auto loans, and home equity lines of credit. This finding highlights the continuing role of the branch network in generating revenue by bringing in new loans.

Additional categories specified when scheduling appointments included new membership enrollment, account services questions, business services, credit card issues, and requests to have documents notarized. Overall, the ability to find out in advance what services were requesting facilitated scheduling to ensure that qualified service professionals  were available to complete those transactions and consultations.

Applying the findings

The implementation and use of appointment-scheduling apps in financial services shows that banking and credit union branches are just additional examples of how technology is changing the retail experience. Companies like Sprint and Apple also offer their customers the option to schedule appointments rather than stand in line at a store, and McDonald’s is experimenting with touchscreen kiosks where customers can place their order and take a digital location device so that their meals can be delivered to their tables. Starbucks and Subway offer apps that allow customers to pay for purchases and accrue special discounts and other promotions. Such innovations as these  are optimizing personalized service that acknowledge customers’ preferences, save them time and/or money, and reward loyalty.

The results of our study suggest several management strategies to improve frontline service and branch efficiency and productivity:

Make the omnichannel experience an easy one. For all the current enthusiasm for mobile and other remote channels, keep in mind that account holders tend to embrace new services without relinquishing their expectations that other options remain in place. Offering a mobile appointment app underscores that your institution offers a full range of channel options—and makes all of them conveniently accessible. Even customers who rely on mobile and online access for routine transactions may appreciate the option to schedule appointments to seek guidance from financial professionals on more complex matters.

Optimize your frontline resources to drive service and revenue. Inviting account holders to schedule branch appointment saves them time and simultaneously provides branch managers with valuable data for smarter scheduling. Financial professionals trained to provide specialized services can be scheduled to meet demand and be ready to serve with the appropriate materials lined up in advance to streamline the interaction. As a result, employees spend less time waiting for work, and the right staff are available to serve the right account holders at the right time, increasing branch efficiency and productivity and enhancing revenue production.

Take a data-driven approach to improving sales and service. Appointment-scheduling and lobby tracking software provide useful information about what services account holders want and when they are most likely to visit a branch for the kinds of interactions that result in increased sales. Detailed information about branch traffic patterns can guide decisions about scheduling, sales training, and marketing based on demand for services at each location.

Data for this study was gathered from financial institutions that use the Kronos FMSI Appointment Concierge and lobby tracker software. Additional analysis and management tips based on the FMSI Appointment Study are included in a new white paper available on our website,


This article originally appeared in The Financial Brand

The Reliable Branch

September 20, 2017

This article originally appeared in CBInsight

Personalized customer service has always been a top priority of community banks. Although that mentality still reigns true, modern-day customer service has evolved and employees are looking into different ways of helping their customers.

These days, customers are looking for more than just familiar face from their financial services providers. They require a wider range of products and services, a full array of delivery channel options, and account access whenever and wherever they want it. On top of that, customers continue to appreciate traditional, old-fashioned personal service. This is especially true of consumers more inclined to take their business to a financial institution that claims to be different from its competitors. If a community bank promises to put customers first, the frontline service it provides should clearly demonstrate that commitment.

What do community banks need to do to satisfy their customers by successfully creating the amalgam of modern-day banking and individualized attention? Several timeless aspects of one-to-one personal service, combined with technological tools for branch management, can help target the types of transactions and guidance customers are seeking so the financial professionals staffing each branch can anticipate and deliver on those needs.

Different customers, different branch. Branches tend to reflect the character of their surroundings and, in general, the types of customers who choose those locations. Branches in family-friendly neighborhoods serve different needs than a branch with a prime spot in a business park. And neither serves the same type of customers as the office within walking distance of residential developments that cater to active seniors.

A demographic survey can sketch in the outlines of the types of services a branch can expect to be in demand in its market area. Using data from the core processing system and lobby tracker software can supply more detailed information about customers’ requests for service so frontline employees can be trained and scheduled to be on hand and fully prepared to deliver the services customers expect when they walk through the door.

Make business personal. Customers want to be treated like people, not account numbers. Lobby tracking software invites customers to sign in and state their business. Access to this information up-front facilitates queuing and gives financial professionals the information they need to greet customers promptly and personally.

Keep it short and sweet. On the other hand, overscheduling staff results in employees standing around idly when branch usage is low and can increase costs for community banks. By monitoring branch traffic, they can more effectively schedule full- and part-time employees to be on hand during periods of peak demand.

The 2017 FMSI Teller Line Study, which analyzed patterns in more than 16 million branch transactions at banks and credit unions across the country, found that mornings are generally less busy than lunch hours and afternoons. Community banks can combine core processing data with information from lobby tracker software to conduct individual branch analyses of types and volumes of transactions to better align scheduling with customers’ banking habits.

Try using this friendly greeting: “I’ve got everything ready for you.” For the most part, the technology supports discussed thus far to improve branch service delivery operate in the background, but one new automated tool is designed to connect directly with customers. Busy people appreciate the benefits of appointment-scheduling software as it ensures that their time spent in the branch is being used efficiently and effectively—no waiting when they arrive and any preparation, such as having the right forms and documents lined up, completed in advance. Appointment apps also supply useful data for branch managers to track what types of transactions and guidance customers are seeking.

There’s more to service delivery than service. Staff scheduling software can help community banks reduce idle time among branch employees and identify blocks of time where secondary duties, such as outbound sales calls, can be assigned with the aim of enhancing revenue production.

The teller line study quantifies the impact of smarter scheduling and other strategies to improve branch efficiency on teller productivity and labor costs. According to that analysis, tellers working for FMSI’s top 10 clients, based on productivity measurements, handled an average 20.3 transactions per hour, compared to the 13.1 average for all banks included in the study. Labor costs per transaction for top performers averaged 94 cents, compared to $1.30 for all banks.

Fully understanding customers and their banking preferences and their habits —what brings them to a branch and when and where they prefer to conduct these transactions—can help community banks personalize customer interactions, reduce wait time, and schedule staff more efficiently. While technology has pushed customers to redefine high-quality service, it can also help deliver on those expectations branch by branch.