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An 11% Increase in Teller Productivity Over the Past Year

March 20, 2012

First Bank of Clayton, Missouri follows the management motto that there is always room for improvement.   In this spirit, the $6.78 billion bank put a strong focus on leveraging a workforce utilization approach nine months ago, in addition to their already successful use of FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM, which they implemented in mid-2010.  Their focus on workforce utilization helped the Regional Managers better identify gaps in teller performances amongst different branches—resulting in an 11% increase in their teller productivity over the past year.

With 147 locations, First Bank’s management team knew they were sitting on a gold mine of benchmarking information, of which they were not taking full advantage.  Specifically, they wanted to take a closer look at their workforce utilization percentages at each branch, which is a percentage achieved by dividing the total number of teller processing hours by their payroll hours.  By grouping branches together by similar transaction volume, configuration, and hours of operation, they enabled their Regional Managers to make workforce utilization percentage comparisons between like branches.

“We wanted our Branch Managers to have full accountability of their staffing mix,” says Chris McLaughlin the EVP & Director of Retail Banking at First Bank.  “The productivity and service effectiveness of our tellers is critical to the success of our branch network.  If one location was operating at lower workforce utilization we wanted to know why.”

Three-Color Coding Report
On a monthly basis, a detailed branch report is distributed to the Regional Managers with a three-color coding system.  As a Branch Manager, if your branch is consistently highlighted pink or red, you are going to have to answer some tough questions about your scheduling mix.  In most cases, changing these colors to green (or improving workforce utilization percentages) requires less full-time employees (FTEs) staffed at the branch.

“Our management team decided we would primarily use attrition to serve as a way of minimizing our teller staff,” says McLaughlin.  “With that said, over the last year we have successfully reduced 100 FTEs.”

An Ongoing Process
Reducing excess FTEs and replacing them with part-time tellers to fill in during peak performance times is one formula for optimal branch productivity.  For some this may seem like a short-term project that can be completed in a few months.  However, the complexities caused by both fluctuating volumes and employee turnover at different branches requires the continual adjustment of full-time and part-time staffing mixes—a key point not lost on First Bank.

“Our workforce optimization program is a continuous process that we must stay on top of,” says McLaughlin.  “We adjust our schedules as needed.  Over the last couple of years, we have actually had to add full-time tellers and increase our part-time tellers’ hours at some of our branches to ensure acceptable service levels for our customers.”

Best Practices from the EVP & Director of Retail Banking at First Bank

  • Use the FMSI reports to determine the ROI on your investments in branch technologies.  We have compared the workforce utilization percentages for our branches that have cash recyclers with those that do not.
  • Offer productivity incentives to your front-line staff.  If this is not something you want to implement full-time, you may want to consider seasonal contests.  These efforts serve as a “shot in the arm” for the front-line staff.
  • It is rare, but be on the look-out for tellers who cheat the system.  We call it “stacking transactions”.  Basically, this occurs when two tellers allow one teller to take the majority of the transactions throughout the day.  They do this to make one teller look like a top performer.

Already seeing great results with FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM First Bank decided not to rest on the laurels of this accomplishment.  Following the management motto that there is always room for improvement, they pushed their workforce optimization approach to the next level.  After implementing a supplemental workforce utilization report, they have improved their productivity by 11% over the last year.

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