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Low Volume Branch Case Study

May 17, 2013

A Teller Management SystemTM Case Study

The $864 million Kansas-based Meritrust Credit Union (Meritrust) has maximized the teller investment at their 14 branches, with the help of FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM.  Meritrust reduced their teller labor costper transaction from $1.09 to $0.96, by scheduling the right number of tellers during the right times, and successfully utilizing the detailed FMSI business intelligence reports.  While reducing excess staff, through attrition, has helped them save $156,000 in annualized labor costs, Meritrust also has been able to maximize their teller resources, especially at their lower volume branches—by identifying lull periods in transaction activity, and then assigning specific sales, service and training tasks during these times.

Reducing Labor Cost by Staffing More Effectively

Upon rolling out the FMSI system, Meritrust’s management team made it a priority to gain buy-in from their front-line staff on the new staffing approach.  They were very transparent with their staff when explaining their intentions with the system, which were to better align staffing levels with actual forecasted transaction activities, as opposed to what some might have assumed was a simple staff cutting initiative.  They assured them that they would only eliminate staffing positions through attrition.

“When implementing the FMSI system, we took extra care with explaining our intentions with our front-line staff,” says Kimberly Rowley, VP Retail Delivery & Operations at Meritrust.  “We had heard this was a critical part of achieving a successful roll-out from other FMSI clients.  To help with these conversations, we showed them our internal productivity performances comparing our different branches and monthly results, and the noticeable gaps really motivated them to get on board with the process.  Our people are competitive and the mentality of ‘if that branch can do it, we can do it’ has served us well.”

Another important factor in focusing the Meritrust staff was to clearly communicate management’s expectations with the system.  The management team decided to set a first-year goal of increasing the credit union’s productivity by 10%, an accomplishment they were able to achieve within seven months of system roll-out.

“It was exciting to achieve a 10% increase in our productivity in our first seven months,” Rowley adds.  “It is an ongoing process that requires our continued focus.”

Scheduling Tasks during Lulls in Transaction Activity

Regardless of how optimally staffed a branch is, there is invariably going to be downtime, especially in low transaction volume branches.  It is important for Meritrust to identify these moments proactively with FMSI’s forecasting scheduling system, and assign specific tasks.  They focus this valuable time for training, and also perform other non-member facing and administrative work.

“Getting the most out of our teller downtime, with the help of the FMSI scheduling software, has been a big win for Meritrust,” adds Rowley.  “Our regional managers all got together and developed training materials focusing on what they all deemed as critically important for our tellers to have in-depth knowledge on.   Our tellers have to study these materials and complete online tests during their lulls in transaction activity.  These training materials combined with a sales initiative we rolled out one year prior to using FMSI, has led to considerablesales, service and productivity improvements.”

Other than tracking the number of tests passed per employee and a general observation of improved behavior, Meritrust has had measurable results from their increased focus on their sales during their downtime activities.  Specifically, one of their lower volume branches saw a growth in their core deposits from $21 million to $31 million in the last year, and another branch was able to move their credit life and credit disability scores for all new loans from 4.8% in the beginning of the year to 40% towards the end of the year.

“One of the most impressive improvements was with our investment referrals,” adds Rowley.  “Our tellers were intimidated to discuss investments.  They were afraid of being asked questions they could not answer.  So as a result of our focused sales initiative we worked on building some general investment knowledge, during lull times.  Our efforts have really paid off, seeing a 63% increase in the number of referrals over the past year.

Best Practices from the 
VP Retail Delivery & Operations at Meritrust Credit Union

  • Make sure that all your managers are signed-up for the FMSI emails.  Encourage them to read the different case studies and white papers, and share with their teams something they learned.
  • Utilize the new FMSI Online Dashboard.  You can quickly navigate the system to get to all your summary and branch reports.  We love it.
  • Ask managers to share best practices of the FMSI solution during employee meetings, to help drive employee engagement.  All topics can be covered, whether it is a specific report to focus on or technical tip for the online scheduling engine.

Meritrust Credit Union has maximized their teller investment with the help of FMSI’s forecasting and scheduling solution, the Teller Management SystemTM.  As a result, they have had considerable gains in sales, service and productivity achievements.  In less than a full year on the program, Meritrust has taken their labor cost per teller transaction from $1.09 to $0.96—or $156,000 in annualized labor cost savings, and they have set another double digit percentage productivity increase for this year.

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