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Tellers Facing Limited Traffic Demand – An Alternative Approach

May 8, 2013

By Gordon A. Williams IV, Executive Vice President of FMSI

Many organizations are facing challenges in determining how to have a productive workforce while transaction volumes continue to decline.  If you take a moment to reflect on yourbranch environment, how often do you look at your branches and see your employees there ready to assist your account holders, yet the account holders aren’t there to support your staffing levels?  It’s a problem that has challenged management teams for years, and there is no sign of this trend changing, as transactions, sales, and relationship activities continue to minimize their branch dependencies.

With minimum staffing requirements, like dual control, forcing branches to schedule a certain number of FTEs in order to open their doors for business, tellers often are scheduled to work when the account holder traffic demand is not there.  The result is an environment where tellers are frequently waiting for work, causing morale and service issues alike.

Compartmentalizing Duties on the Teller Line

As an employee, would you enjoy working at a teller station while only servicing a handful of account holders each hour?  Let’s consider two scenarios for a moment.  Which job description sounds more favorable to you?

  • Scenario 1:  Your position requires you to work eight hours per day to assist clients in processing teller transactions.  There will be busy times and lines may form; while there will also be other times with limited activity.  During times that there is not a lot of activity, it is up to you to make this time productive by taking care of reports, calling for referrals, or utilizing this as lunch/break time.
  • Scenario 2:  Your position requires you to work eight hours per day, but on a daily basis you will know when you are expected to process transactions for your clients, when you are expected to have dedicated time to generate new referral/sales opportunities through outbound calls, and when you need to take a lunch/break, limiting the exposure of an understaffed branch to your account holders.  You will have a schedule generated for you that identifies when you need to be on the teller line to assist your account holders due to high demand, while also having a defined time for sales, training, or coaching activities that must take place as well.

Planning Specific Activities per Hour vs. an Open Ended Approach

Which description sounds like the job you would want to apply for?  Scenario 1 exemplifies the “hurry up and wait” approach to scheduling.  Tellers are in a hurry to get their drawers set up in a branch at the start of the day, but then spend a lot of their day waiting for account holders to show up to transact business.  While there may be a list of activities that should be taken care of during teller “down time,” they never receive the focus they deserve and take much longer than they should due to constant interruptions.

Scenario 2 exemplifies what can be done by blocking time for necessary activities through use of a scheduling solution.  It’s a visionary approach to scheduling that identifies when your employees need to be in their teller stations to assist account holders, but also indicates when they should be doing other necessary duties.  If these duties include outbound sales calls or training, do you think this approach would allow you to achieve, or exceed, your sales goals?

Remember, just because your organization has minimum staffing requirements does not mean that your organization should settle for minimum productivity requirements as well.  Consider putting your core transaction data to work for your team and allowing technology to forecast your account holder demand, staff the right resources when your account holders need them, and schedule other duties and tasks when appropriate creating the right environment for your employees and account holders alike.

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