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Bringing a Scientific Approach to Branch Operations

January 4, 2011

A Teller Management SystemTM (TMS) Case Study 

Some of us are more left brained and some of us are more right brained.  Right brained people tend to rely on intuition and creative problem solving, while left brained people are more rational and logical.  I am intimately familiar with the differences in the personality traits associated with the two groups, because my wife is an extreme “left brainer” and I am a “right brainer,” which often leads to some pretty interesting contrasts in our views of the world.  More times than not, when retail branch management schedules for their teller-line, they tend to rely on a more intuitive and creative problem solving “right brained” approach.  This non-scientific approach often results in costly overstaffing.  Fortunately, there is a reporting and scheduling solution available that allows for a more precise and logical “left brained” approach.  KEMBA Financial Credit Union (KEMBA), which is the largest credit union in central Ohio, has been utilizing this solution, the FMSI Teller Management SystemTM (TMS), which has ultimately led to a significant improvement to their branch operation workforce optimization.

Managing to the Numbers

Historically, when analyzing the staffing needs of their teller-line, KEMBA would rely primarily on their intuition and gut instinct.  This approach had adequate results, because key members of their management team had a pretty good idea of when they were busier and when they were not, but it was not an exact science and therefore not the best approach to successfully and fully optimize their workforce.  As a result, KEMBA implemented a management reporting and scheduling approach to assist them in achieving this goal.  The outsourced TMS solution not only provided KEMBA with an automated scheduling system, but it also gave them the exact performance management information they required to staff the right tellers at the right time – on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis. 

Debbie Olbrys, Vice President of Sales and Member Service at KEMBA Financial Credit Union, summed up KEMBA’s TMS scenario by stating, “We have more Tellers than any other position in our organization, which is a substantial investment of resources.  As leaders, we are responsible for providing the best overall return to our members, and with FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM we have been successful in optimizing this manpower.  Best of all, the program is intuitive and very easy to use.”  By staffing their branch network based on the TMS monthly reports, in the last year KEMBA has experienced a 25% increase in their productivity and a 16% decrease in their cost per transaction.  They also cut their excess labor costs by 80%.  In addition, KEMBA is one of the elite FMSI TMS clients – routinely ranking in the top 10 in the monthly FMSI Client Comparative Data Report

Not Every Branch Hour is Created Equal

With the primary goal to provide the optimum service to members, KEMBA had established clear guidelines around service expectations.  KEMBA’s tellers are held accountable for delivering the proper greeting standards to each member, and they also have a products & services cross-sell goal to achieve.  Prior to having the TMS reports, tellers would have to uphold their cross-sell goals regardless of the traffic flow.  These cross-selling efforts during peak times often led to a decrease in service levels – due to long lines and impatient members. 

Now that KEMBA management has access to detailed peak time metrics – not every hour is created equal for the tellers.  “We recognize that during peak times our tellers’ cross-sell numbers may drop. They appreciate our understanding of this fact,” explained Debbie.  A new standing policy subsequent to the implementation of TMS is when there are extra long lines you should not attempt to cross-sell the members.  Instead, briefly review the account and make a note of cross-sell opportunities.  At the end of the day each teller sends these notes to their corresponding Member Service Representative (MSR) on the platform side – for prompt follow up. “We can still capture sales opportunities while managing the members need to get in and out as quickly as possible.  Members appreciate that we recognize and respect their time,” added Debbie. 

Best Practices from Vice President of Sales and Member Service at KEMBA

  • Raise each Tellers Transactions per Hour (TPH) goal each quarter.  I would suggest doing so by at least one TPH per quarter.
  • Bring your Head Teller team together once a month to review TMS reports, discuss challenges and share best practices.  The synergy in these meetings is great.  Our head tellers have excelled and grown by learning from their peers.
  • Utilize FMSI’s Hours of Operation Analysis (HOA) report.  It is a powerful tool when reviewing and ultimately adjusting your branch hours of operations.

While both sides of the brain represent unique and vital thoughts, it goes without question that the “left brained” approach is better suited for managing workforce optimization in a branch environment.  This logical and scientific approach has enabled KEMBA Financial Credit Union to baseline its metrics, set precise performance goals, and have a dedicated and ongoing program to manage to these goals.  The Teller Management SystemTM has been instrumental in KEMBA Financial Credit Union’s workforce optimization success.

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