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New Teller Line Study Reveals Developing Trend

August 22, 2017

This article originally appeared in Credit Union Today

By Chad Davis

Financial institutions across North America are seeing a new trend. Over the past five years, the average rate of transactions per branch increased 10%, reversing a 25-year decline, according to the 2017 Teller Line Study from FMSI, a Kronos company.

The study which analyzes more than 16-million teller transactions at credit unions and banks, found that the rate of transactions per branch increased from 7,000 in average monthly volume in 2012 to 7,700 this year.

This increase may be the result of a consolidation in branch networks as financial institutions aim to correct “overbranching” that resulted from the significant surge in office openings stemming from the 1970s. The FDIC reports insured financial institutions operated 91,851 branches in 2016, down 8% from the peak 99,550 offices open in 2009.

Although monthly branch volume remains well below the 11,700 average transactions reported in the first FMSI study in 1992, the plateauing of branch traffic declines suggests that personal interactions remain a need for financial services customers. Yet the challenge for credit unions  providing that service more cost-effectively still remains.

Costs Increase While Productivity Falls

Despite the increase in transactions per branch, teller labor costs have increased by 147.9%. The average labor cost per transaction has rose from 48 cents in 1992 to $1.19, and productivity, which is measured by average transactions processed per teller hour worked, have declined from 18.4 to 14.9.

While credit unions are processing more transactions per branch, their labor costs per transaction have also grown more quickly than community banks since 2013. Banks still hold the lead over credit unions, at $1.30 per transaction on average for banks compared to $1.16 for credit unions, according to the most recent study. But the gap is narrowing: Labor costs per transaction at credit unions jumped 17.2% over five years, compared to a 6.6% increase for banks.

Using Analytics for Action

When analyzing their own data on branch traffic volume and patterns, credit unions can more accurately align staff schedules with member preferences for prompt service.

Tools such as core data processing systems provide substantial data about the types and timing of transactions to help staff deployment, and staff scheduling software can assist full- and part-time staffing to meet peak service demands and increase work efficiency. Smart scheduling and the application of data analytics in managing branches are the top two management tips offered in the teller line study.

Aside from the routine transactions analyzed in this report, branches remain the go-to channel for customers looking for answers in resolving problems or guidance in making financial decisions.

The study highlights industry research demonstrating that the branch consistently outperforms online channels “in terms of enhancing product understanding and reducing future problems.” Those higher-level conversations position the credit union as a trusted financial advisor and serve as a springboard for increasing sales of the products and services members need to achieve their financial goals.

Chad Davis is Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Financial Services Practice Group, Kronos, which is a leading provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions. Kronos industry-centric workforce applications are purpose-built for financial institutions of all sizes. He can be reached at chad.davis@kronos.com.

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