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What the Wells Fargo Scandal Can Teach Us About Accountability in the Lobby

October 14, 2016

By Chad J. Davis, SVP of Marketing, FMSI

Outside of creating a vision and keeping the ship heading in the right direction, management’s most crucial function is ensuring that employees are accountable to adhering to the goals and standards of the organization. There are many different management styles, processes, and tools available to evaluate customer service; to set and track progress toward realistic, ambitious sales goals; and to train, coach, and monitor the performance of frontline staff. None of these practices seemed to be in place at Wells Fargo, where thousands of employees were fired for opening bogus accounts.

The scope of this scandal is stunning: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that more than 1.5 million deposit accounts and 560,000 credit cards were opened in customers’ names without their consent, resulting in unauthorized account transfers and fees and black marks on their credit reports. Equally appalling is that these activities went on for years—by some accounts, stretching back to 2011 or even earlier—undetected and uncorrected. Beyond the $185 million fine slapped on the bank, Wells Fargo faces the incalculable loss of reputation and significant monetary costs in legal fees and in making good on its promises to compensate customers for their losses.

This debacle creates a vivid cautionary tale for banks and credit unions and raises the need to ask: How sure can we be that we won’t end up like Wells Fargo? What checks and balances do we have in place to ensure accountability by employees? Unfortunately, many financial institutions continue to rely on loose standards and ineffective and/or outdated systems to monitor branch operations. Is it possible that many platform employees are significantly underperforming, or worse?

If the answers to those questions raise concerns for your organization, sophisticated technology like FMSI’s Lobby Tracker application can establish an accountability loop in the lobby to help identify and correct performance issues and ensure that fraudulent activities are not happening under the radar.

Taming the Wild West of Lobby Management

For decades, it’s been suggested, the lobby has been the last frontier in the retail branch environment, out of the watchful eye of management with few systems in place to identify and quantify what constitutes high-quality customer service and sales. Employees may work as tellers and service representatives for decades, without benchmarks and objective evaluations to identify the low and high performers—those who need more training and coaching and those who deserve recognition and promotion. With potentially valuable product information siloed in disparate systems—DDA systems, time/deposit systems, loan systems, and credit card systems—and in many cases no dedicated systems for tracking lobby service, management has struggled to understand how to measure staff performance in the lobby. And with no mechanism to collect key lobby performance indicators, useful metrics like assist time per product and cross-sell ratios cannot be employed.

FMSI’s comprehensive Omnix Lobby Tracker® software is designed to sharpen the focus on branch oversight with tools to review and report sales and service activity and to equip managers with solid metrics to assess performance and guide coaching. Here are some of the ways Omnix Lobby Tracker® can improve frontline service and sales:

Monitor and improve wait time. Account holders sign in from a tablet or self-service kiosk and select which service they need, which provides all the information you need to monitor wait time and adjust staffing and training to improve this metric over time. FMSI also offers a Lobby Wait Time Widget, so customers can check wait times online before they head to the branch, as well as customizable alerts for management so you can respond quickly when wait times exceed acceptable limits.

Support professional and accurate transactions. The Check List feature of Lobby Tracker guides frontline staff through the wide variety of transactions they may be called on to perform, including opening new accounts, ordering checks and debit cards, and completing loan applications. The step-by-step lists of procedures and forms associated with each transaction ensure a consistent customer experience and head off potentially expensive mistakes.

Prevent fraud. Lobby Tracker records the services requested by account holders and captures assist-time for each product/service interaction, allowing management to quickly identify any suspicious activities in detailed reports.

This system helps to create strong transparency to ensure that branch employees are delivering and managing sales activity in a way that is meaningful to account holders and to your organization—and consistent with account holders’ financial well-being. When management decisions are based on solid data from branches, you can guarantee that each of your locations is optimized to deliver service and sales that are high in quality and integrity.

Interested in learning more about our Lobby Tracker? Watch our recorded demo here.

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