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Shifting to Tomorrow’s Future Branch

May 11, 2017

By Chad Davis, Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Financial Services Practice Group, Kronos

Branches are in the middle of a significant transitional period. As the need to reduce operating expenses and grow profits continues, banks are looking to adapt to the shift by developing strategies for attracting new customers and deepening relationships with existing ones while attempting to provide the very best service possible.

Branches are no strangers to the adoption of new technology. With the emergence of online banking, mobile banking, smart ATMs, interactive video technology, and other innovations, bank customers can now perform common transactions and research financial products and services without a trip to the branch.

Unsurprisingly, branches have seen a decline in traffic with a 45 percent drop in transaction volumes since 1992, according to the 2017 FMSI Teller Line Study. However, there is still value in the branch. A 2016 J.D. Power study showed that even though traffic numbers have decreased, branches are still considered a key channel for resolving customers’ problems or completing more complex transactions.[2] While many once thought the adoption of new technology would prompt the demise of branch-based banking, experts now see branch change as an open door for banks to gain a new competitive edge.

The changing landscape of branch models

Although it may be simple for banks to see the benefit in the shifting branch landscape, transitioning to the “branch of the future” is not a quick and easy fix. Modifying branches requires an ample amount of time, effort, and budget, so as banks begin to switch gears in this direction, three different branch models have come into existence:

  • The traditional branch model: This is probably what comes to mind when we think of a typical branch today. The layout is familiar and functional, yet set up in a way that tends to favor the bank, not the consumer. For example, account holders may have to work with two or three different employees to resolve an issue or learn about new products or services. Such a siloed approach also makes it difficult for employees to access all of the customer’s information — causing them to miss valuable opportunities to cross-sell or provide exceptional service.
  • The self-directed branch model: This model represents the best of both worlds between the traditional branch model and the vision for the branch of the future. Self-directed branches are designed for maximum speed and convenience for their account holders. Instead of human tellers and long lines, these branches provide fast, easy transactions using video tellers, smart ATMs, touchscreen devices, and other technology. If customers need more assistance, these branches also make it easy to schedule an appointment with the right person to answer their questions. All of this is designed to help customers to get in and get out quickly, and get on with their day.
  • The personalized, full-service model: To imagine this example, think of the Apple Store and how it has revolutionized the retail experience. Similarly, in this branch model, account holders receive hands-on, concierge-like service from friendly, knowledgeable staff. Bank employees are trained as universal associates, capable of managing transactions themselves or introducing the right customer team to resolve any additional questions. The focus is on the bank customer’s experience and satisfaction, and these employees do all they can to provide world-class service while driving higher quality interactions and more profitable transactions.

Multiple models, multiple challenges

Managing a single organization with three different branch models poses a few challenges, particularly in the way its workforce is deployed. Different branches require employees with different talents, so banks must have a broad spectrum of employees with specialized skills, financial knowledge, dedication to customer service, and other attributes. Additionally, banks must be able to schedule the right employee at the right place at the right time to meet demand and control labor costs. There’s a lot at stake: If they can achieve these goals, banks will improve their ability to serve account holders and create highly profitable, sales-centric branches.

The technology advantage

To attract and manage a high-performing workforce for all branch models, banks clearly need the best possible solution — yet many question how to go about attaining one.

Human capital management (HCM) technology may be the answer. HCM solutions can help banks improve the way they hire, manage, and retain top talent, and in doing so, provide an ideal branch experience that increases customer satisfaction and loyalty as well as bottom-line results.

For example, in the case of the personalized, full-service branch model, a manager can use specialized scheduling solutions to forecast traffic volumes and then schedule the right employees to best meet this demand. These sophisticated schedules factor in such variables as employee skills, availability, and certifications and other qualifications, balancing those employees’ labor costs against demand and budget. Additionally, specialized staffing solutions give managers detailed visibility into employee efficiency and performance. In this case, she can schedule a part-time teller for specific times and reallocate other employees to secondary duties, such as making outbound calls or balancing the vault.

The many benefits of a simple solution

With the perpetual evolution of branches, banks can rely on HCM solutions to help overcome staffing challenges inherent in the branch types of the future as well as today. In doing so, HCM delivers a rare win-win scenario — technology that enables banks to improve customers’ experience and satisfaction while helping the overall organization reduce operating expenses, increase sales, and improve profitability.

 

Chad Davis is Senior Industry Marketing Manager of the Financial Services Practice Group at Kronos. He can be reached at chad.davis@kronos.com.

 

Put Kronos for Banking to work for you:

+1 800 225 1561 | kronos.com/banking

[1] FMSI, 2017 FMSI Teller Line Study

[2] Big Banks Show Significant Gains in Customer Satisfaction as Midsize Banks Decline and Regionals Plateau, J.D. Power U.S. Retail Banking Study Finds, J.D. Power (April 23, 2016), found at http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2016-us-retail-banking-satisfaction-study.

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