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A Case Study About Reducing Excess Teller Waiting for Work Time

November 19, 2012

The variances between branches in an institution’s branch network can be wildly different.  While one branch may constantly have the hustle and bustle of a busy international airport, another location in the same network may look like a quiet small town diner at midnight.  The $1.4 billion Pennsylvania TruMark Financial Credit Union (TruMark) has many branches that fall in the latter, or locations that average less than 5,000 transactions per month.  These low-volume branches, in particular, typically have a sizeable amount of excess-waiting-for-work (EWFW) time at any given institution—a staffing scenario that is very costly with very little in return.

In an effort to significantly reduce EWFW time while maintaining high service standards, TruMark utilizes FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM (TMS) at all of their 14 branch locations.  Since rolling out the system in early 2012, they have seen a 20% reduction in their EWFW and have absorbed 11 teller positions through attrition—all of which has helped move them up 17 spots in the monthly FMSI Industry Comparative Data report.  In addition the $420,000 plus in annualized labor cost savings for TruMark did not affect service levels.  Just last month TruMark reported a 98% service score at their branches, which is actually one of the highest scores they have ever achieved.

Understanding and Reducing Excess Waiting for Work (EWFW) Time
Understanding exactly what their EWFW time was and properly tracking it was a priority for TruMark when rolling out TMS.  They were peripherally aware that they had tellers standing around and waiting for work during slower periods, but they had never quantified the actual waiting-for-work time and its subsequent costly impact.

“Not being able to gauge how much our tellers were standing around and waiting for work, made it difficult to optimally manage our scheduling process,“ says Ivan Orrego the Vice President of Branch Operations at TruMark.  “Having FMSI charts and graphs clearly showing us the precise waiting-for-work time has been instrumental in optimizing our teller workforce.”

The below EWFW histograms helps TruMark to review their idle time, which reflects the percentage of time spent in lower productivity (transactions per hour) ranges due to overstaffing.  These figures show TruMark’s EWFW impact in gold.  As a result since implementing TMS and supplementing their management decisions every month, the below figure on the right, shows 20% less EWFW (gold) than the figure on the left.

TruMark attributes improving their utilization of part-time tellers in the place of full-time tellers as a major factor in the reduction of their EWFW time.  Orrego described the optimal vs. actual FTE comparison report as being particularly helpful for management to achieve the increased use of part-time tellers.  The FTE comparison report typically highlights the excess number of full-time tellers working during any given month.  They have achieved a 59% reduction in excess tellers processing transactions in the optimal vs. actual comparison since implementing TMS in Feb 2012.

Benchmarking Against Peer-to-Peer Comparative Data
Peer-to-Peer analysis is often credited by FMSI clients as the single most important factor that causes management to affect change in how they manage productivity on their teller line.  TruMark follows suit with these other FMSI clients and puts a lot of merit in comparing their teller line performance against industry peers.  With FMSI’s monthly Industry Comparative Data report, they can see how well their performance stacks up to 120 other financial institutions from all over North America.

“Moving up in the FMSI rankings is a big deal for us,” says Orrego.  “Without the industry comparison, it is easy to be complacent.  When we see several institutions with a higher performance rank, it shows us what is possible and motivates us to do better.”

TruMark currently ranks #66 in transactions per teller hour (TPH) amongst its industry peers.  When they started on the FMSI system their rank was #83.  This 17 place ranking climb has been accomplished in only a nine month period.

Best Practices from the Vice President of Branch Operations at TruMark

  • Instruct your regional management to take their FMSI reports on their branch visits.
  • Test your branches to see if they know their TMS numbers.  Just casually chatting with them can be very telling.
  • It is very important to have a specific goal.  Set it, and they shoot for it.  Make sure everybody on the team is fully aware of it.  Show incremental increases every month and make sure to celebrate the wins with the team.
  • Send TMS reports to C-level management every month.  Their involvement and awareness is critical to a successful program.
TruMark Financial Credit Union has had significant gains since implementing FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM.  Getting a secure handle on their excess-waiting-for-work time at their 14 branches has both improved their efficiency and improved the morale of their employees who are now generally more engaged.  Their resulting $420,000 in annualized savings, while maintaining excellent service levels, has been a big win for the institution.
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