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“Like Using a Crystal Ball”

November 4, 2010


Forecasting Branch Traffic


Scheduling Based on Forecasted Account Holder Traffic Patterns

Having the ability to predict the future would undeniably be extremely powerful.  Since central Europe’s Medieval Period, crystal balls have been used by psychics and fortune tellers to “see” into the past, present, and future.  In present times there are similar devices that are much more reliable and sophisticated like FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM (TMS), which forecasts trends in branch operations.  E&A Credit Union (E&A), a financial institution in Michigan, recently utilized TMS to significantly improve their staffing efficiencies and their Branch Managers’ overall effectiveness.  Marion Brenner, Vice President of Operations at E&A described the effectiveness of TMS by stating, “Using TMS for scheduling based on forecasted account holder traffic patterns really is like using a crystal ball.”

Scheduling Tool Improves Retail Branch Efficiencies

E&A had the initial general goal of improving their overall retail branch staffing efficiencies with TMS.  Specifically, they wanted to identify under-utilized hours of operation and then adjust schedules to eliminate the overstaffing that went along with it.  The TMS monthly reports helped them see a more “crystal” clear picture of their account holder traffic patterns throughout the week.  Marion described her experience with the TMS reports by stating, “The Teller Management SystemTM reports were extremely accurate.  For example, one of our Branch Managers, Rob Fowler, recently told me that his branch report indicated that at 11:00 on a specific day there would be an uptick in member traffic.  On that day he actually could see the members pulling into the parking lot at that exact time.  It was amazing to hear just how accurate the forecasts were.”

Ultimately, E&A utilizes the TMS data monthly combined with FMSI’s automated scheduling engine to create a more efficient teller-line schedule.  As a result, they have the right amount of tellers to meet the account holder traffic patterns each day.  Since the implementation of the managerial changes that were supported by TMS, E&A has made great progress including: a 63% drop in excess waiting for work time and a drop in their overall labor cost per transaction from $0.76 to $0.62 (September 2009 through September 2010).  On a side note, E&A was featured in FMSI’s July newsletter as the month’s FMSI Chart of the Month.(click here to see more)

Branch Managers Decrease their Time Spent on the Teller-Line

Before E&A employed the TMS solution their Branch Managers generally spent a significant amount of time on their teller-lines.  The mentality was that if there were three or more account holders in line, then a Branch Manager was suppose to help alleviate the wait times by acting as a teller until the line went down.  Marion was not pleased with this approach and described the scenario, “It was always frustrating for me to see our Branch Managers on their teller-lines.  Their roles should be to act as coaches to help ensure tellers perform at an optimal level.  They were unable to properly focus on coaching when they were on the teller-line.” 

TMS empowered the Branch Managers with the knowledge they needed to forecast their individual traffic patterns.  Subsequently, they scheduled more tellers during peak times.  The Branch Managers were also able to greet the account holders waiting in line, which provided friendly acknowledgement and ensured them that the wait would not be much longer.  E&A has had excellent results with this approach.
Best Practices from the Vice President of Operations at E&A

  • Establish realistic productivity goals and review them monthly. 
  • When you achieve your goals acknowledge the success with your team and always celebrate the small victories along the way.
  • Incorporate the FMSI comparative data report into your monthly analysis.  One of our most important goals this last year was to crack the top 15 of the FMSI Comparative data list.  

Much like the psychics and fortune tellers from the Medieval Period, E&A has intrigued many with the power of forecasting.  By utilizing a sophisticated modern day “crystal ball”, The Teller Management SystemTM, E&A Credit Union has dramatically improved their branch operation efficiencies.

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