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Less Than 10% of Mobile Checking Account Applications Are Completed

April 27, 2017

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Recent Javelin research found that today only 8% of successful checking account applications start and finish in a smartphone or tablet.

What happens to the abandoned mobile applications?  It’s far from certain these individuals ever visit a branch after a failed attempt.

Perhaps, a branch appointment scheduling solution—which can easily be integrated within a mobile banking application—is a financial institutions best chance at transitioning these failed attempts to an in-branch meeting.

See detaile metrics around adoption behaviors for banking branch appointment software when you download the Kronos 2017 FMSI Appointment Study.

Webinar: Branch of the Future Evaluation

April 12, 2017

Maximizing the Branch for Today and Tomorrow  

Register now for this timely webinar, featuring experts from America First Credit Union and FMSI, a Kronos Company.

REGISTER NOW >

WEBINAR (two times available):
Thursday, April 20th | 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, April 25th | 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. ET
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We’ll discuss the current and future state of the retail branch and evaluate various technologies and how they can help improve account holder engagement for stronger performance and earnings — today and as the branch continues to evolve.

Get out ahead of your peers in branch transformation. Register for the webinar now.

Excellence through Visibility: Tracking Sales, Service and Productivity in the Lobby

April 10, 2017

This article originally appeared in Credit Union Times

Business intelligence (BI)—obtaining actionable insight from the information credit unions (CUs) already collect and store—is often presented as the solution to a world of sales, service and productivity issues. BI can be just that, but too often, a lack of understanding of its benefits, the difficulty in extracting it and/or insufficient follow-through at the branch level, impacts a CU’s ability to affect meaningful change.

One place where implementation of BI solutions is straightforward, and the value of the effort quickly evident to everyone involved, is in the lobby. Properly structured, systems that track sales, service and productivity in the lobby provide meaningful data that gives CUs a clear path to improvement. Furthermore, the logic behind these systems is clear-cut, making it easy for branch personnel to grasp how the system can help them boost member satisfaction, branch revenue, and productivity.

How Lobby Tracking Systems Work

A lobby tracking system (LTS) is a computerized application that captures lobby performance information in real-time. Optimally, these solutions collect information through self-service technology or CU greeters, and then process and analyze it, providing both initial benchmark reporting and ongoing updates. Using this trending data, CUs can easily identify performance improvement opportunities and engage in personnel training, program development and/or process reengineering that propels desired improvements in sales and service.

LTS solutions replace traditional handwritten “sign-in sheets” and offer the added benefit of showcasing the CU as innovative and professional rather than old-fashioned and informal. There are three key periods where information can be collected and analyzed to provide a complete picture of lobby performance: Sign-in, Wait Period, and Assist Period.

Sign In: During sign-in, either a greeter or a self-service computerized Kiosk (or iPad), collects the member (account holder or prospect) name, arrival time and purpose for visit. Optimally, a “notes” section enables either the greeter or the member to provide as much information as appropriate (including personal details) that can later be used to engage and connect with the member.

Wait Period: While the member awaits service, the system tracks wait-time. In a best-practices solution, the system will also use this information to provide alerts to member service representatives and management, especially when wait times exceed designated thresholds.

Assist Period: When a service representative approaches the member, the system status changes from collecting “wait” to “assist” time information. This data, as well as anything else discussed, like which products/services were reviewed during the meeting, is captured by the system for further analysis.  When the member’s questions have been answered and needs met (or the member transitions to another service entity), the representative closes the session and the assist timer stops.

Analysis and Reporting

The real power of a LTS lies in what goes on under the covers, i.e. analysis and reporting. Well-built LTS solutions not only compile the data they collect, but also present it in a user-friendly format, such as an online dashboard, on both an individual basis (per representative) and across each branch—and the entire CU organization.

Using real-time reports, CU management should be able to determine, not only when the CU fails to meet its own sales and productivity goals, but also identify potential costly member service mishaps and prevent them from occurring—helping to eliminate excessive wait times.

Over time, the system will continue collecting and reporting its metrics, enabling insight into whether changes are having the desired result. Having access to this timely trending data empowers management to quickly analyze detailed performance, which is typically very difficult to do without the power of computer processing.

When utilizing a manual tracking process, performance issues can often go undiscovered and have a real impact. For example, underperforming individuals can often remain hidden amongst a group, especially if that group has a couple of star performers who pull the branch scores up. The difference in average assist times (per lobby representative) might be imperceptible with a casual glance, but over time, the LTS will note and report on them, enabling management to take action through targeted coaching.

In-House or Outsourced?

A comprehensive, detailed solution such as we have described can be created in-house, although it’s only cost effective for the largest financial institutions. As is the case with virtually every software application, it is less expensive and easier to implement a solution built by a provider that can spread its development expenses across its entire client base. Nevertheless, if you want to attempt in-house development, perhaps as a test before committing to a full-blown solution, some of the most important metrics to track, aggregate and analyze, per lobby employee, include:

  • Member wait time
  • Member assist time
  • Cross-sell ratios
  • Count of services provided/products sold
  • Purpose for visit
  • Account holder traffic trends for scheduling purposes

 

Any data collection, analysis and reporting over time—even if it’s just having an employee input wait times into a spreadsheet to determine averages—will provide some actionable BI. However, to see a total picture of what’s going on in your lobby, you’ll need the power of a sophisticated, purpose-built solution. For more information on using lobby metrics to improve sales, recognition, service and productivity—and for tips on improving lobby performance even before you implement an LTS, download our recent white paper on the topic, at https://www.kronos.com/resources/fmsi-2016-retail-branch-lobby-study.

Viewing Branch Service from the Member’s Perspective

March 31, 2017

This article was originally published in Credit Union Journal

By Meredith Deen, Director, Products & Services for FMSI | A Kronos Company

As much as credit unions pride themselves on providing high-quality personal service, gaining a clear view of how members perceive their branch experience is a persistent challenge. How do members rate the expertise and professionalism of the employee serving them? Is the branch lobby easy to navigate? How long is too long to wait for service? And how can credit unions best act on member feedback?

Member surveys are an option, but they take time and response rates are often low. Secret shoppers provide another means of assessing frontline service, but savvy staff may be able to discern when their work is being evaluated and respond accordingly.

Just as technology is reshaping financial service delivery, it also offers new tools to evaluate the quality of branch service and to take steps to improve it. Take, for example, the issue of wait time—the amount of time between members’ arrival in a branch and the beginning of their interaction with a credit union employee. According to FMSI’s 2016 Retail Branch Lobby Study, wait time increased, on average, from 4 minutes 46 seconds in 2011 to 7 minutes 6 seconds in 2015. However, among the top 10 performing financial institutions in the study, wait time actually dropped from 3 minutes 10 seconds to 2 minutes 36 seconds. That improvement is attributed to proactive steps those credit unions and banks took to improve service delivery, including coaching and smarter staff scheduling.

Monitoring service delivery

Managers at ELGA Credit Union’s eight branches have a clear view of service quality—from stats on how long members are waiting for service and how long each transaction takes to direct member feedback provided immediately as they leave the lobby. The Burton, Michigan, credit union (www.elgacu.com), employs software to manage full-time and part-time teller schedules and track the time spent conducting transactions, interacting with members, and “waiting for work.”

“Monthly performance reports tell us what our peak-times are, how we compare to last year in volume, and how centers are doing in terms of transaction times. That’s broken down by branch, and it’s known as TPH, or teller processing hours,” explains Kathleen Smith, Vice President of Branch Experience. “We can track and analyze frontline labor costs and cost per transaction with comparisons to the same time last year.”

That analysis permits more efficient scheduling of part-time employees at peak-times and the assignment of associates to handle outbound sales calls during down time, Smith notes. The scheduling system measures full-time employees’ net difference between optimal versus actual transaction volume, branch labor costs and productivity, and cost per transaction.

Technology tools can also streamline service delivery by connecting members more promptly with a financial service professional who can handle their specific request. Members at Digital Federal Credit Union encounter a kiosk when they enter a branch lobby where they can sign in with their name and service request. The queuing system tracks who’s next in line with for each service and tracks wait and assist times in real time to improve scheduling and assign additional staff to serve members if lines begin to form in the lobby, say Michael Caissey, regional branch manager for the Marlborough, Massachusetts, credit union (www.dcu.org).

Tellers can step in some cases and help members with simple requests like an address change, Caissey says, and member service representatives appreciate the ability to address members by name and know in advance what service they’ve requested. “The efficiencies have really come through for the branch, and the member experience is just that much better,” he notes.

Immediate member feedback

Complementing its behind-the-scenes technology, ELGA CU also tracks members’ perceptions of service by deploying kiosks in its branches and administrative office that invite members to click a range of happy, neutral, or sad face icons to rate their experience. Those kiosks generate at least 4,000 responses each month, averaging in the 94 percent positive range for branch service, Smith says.

“That’s not good enough for us, but we’re continually looking at member responses for ways to improve service,” she adds.

Employees in every branch and department get together for a regular brief morning meeting, in which branch managers typically review the service ratings from the previous day. This immediate feedback makes it much easier to identify the source of service lapses than a monthly survey. Conversely, branch teams “look at days where they get 100 percent and try to apply that to days where they didn’t get that high of a rating. They’re able to look at what they’re doing well and what they can improve on,” Smith notes.

“When members leave happy, they’re going to hit that on the machine, but they’ll also let you know when they didn’t have a good experience,” she says.

ELGA managers can compare data from teller scheduling software with member ratings to identify when negative ratings might be tied to busy periods at a branch that extended wait times and assess whether scheduling changes are needed.

Especially in combination, these technology tools can help credit unions continually assess and optimize the quality of the personal service they provide. Lobby-tracking software provides an effective queuing mechanism, facilitates more personal and efficient service, and measures wait and assist times so managers can improve scheduling over the long term and even respond in real time when lines begin to form. In addition, tools to gather members’ assessment of the service they’ve received on the spot provide a more immediate means to identify and correct problems—and highlight and build on service successes.

Ultimately, member-facing and behind-the-scenes technology can provide a more complete view of the member experience, “and that’s what it’s all about,” Smith says. “How is the member feeling? What does high-quality service look like? If the wait is too long or associates are talking with each other about where they’re going for dinner that night, that’s not a good experience for members. Those are the things we want to know.”

Omni-Channel Banking in the Branch: Increase Customer Service and Loyalty; Boost Branch Profitability

March 6, 2017

By Meredith J. Deen, Director Product & Services, Kronos

With steadily declining financial institution (FI) branch volumes— documented in Kronos’s FMSI Teller Line Study—bank management is often faced with tough choices regarding its under-performing branches. Making matters worse, deciding whether to shrink a bank’s branch footprint is far more complicated than just crunching the performance numbers and closing the branches with the lowest results.

Taking such an action brings into play significant account-holder satisfaction (and possibly retention) concerns. Even with the rising popularity of digital processing and communication vehicles such as online and mobile banking, account holders still express a clear preference for keeping branches open. In fact, according to Ernst and Young’s Global Consumer Banking Survey, 52 percent of all banking customers currently prefer to make deposits at their branches. More importantly for sales volumes, 54 percent prefer using branches to ask for advice, and a whopping 65 percent prefer that sales of banking services and products are conducted in their branches.

These statistics leave banks with an interesting conundrum—how can they satisfy customer expectations for branch service and maintain or enhance profitability in the face of diminishing volumes? The answer, we believe, is not to accept that branch visits will continue to decline, but rather to leverage and respond to these customer preferences, thereby encouraging them to visit more often—and to transact more business when they do.

One such approach that is helping banks achieve this goal is omni-channel banking. An omni-channel banking strategy, when properly executed, not only can increase sales; it can also foster greater customer loyalty and satisfaction. When that strategy extends to the branch level, the results are even more impressive.

Omni-Channel versus Multi-Channel Banking

Despite the buzz surrounding omni-channel banking over the past few years, management in many banks persists in confusing it with multi-channel banking—or, in failing to take it far enough. When a bank has expanded its connection mechanisms to include call centers, mobile and online banking, and other “touch-points”—and is encouraging its account holders to use these mechanisms, it is engaging in multi-channel banking.

As its name suggests, omni-channel banking takes the relationship a step further—from many touch points to all. This means more than reaching out to and/or transacting business with customers through multiple channels. To qualify as omni-channel banking, the effort must create a consistent, seamless, high-quality customer experience across all touch points. In other words, all account-holder interactions, across all vehicles, should be unified and should complement one another. At the highest, most successful level, efforts should also be non-redundant and should harmonize with the account-holder’s expressed needs, preferences and characteristics. Here’s an example:

Customer A inquires online about a car loan in June then purchases a vehicle in July with financing from ABC State Bank that he applied for at the branch. During a subsequent call to a branch in August, Customer A inquires about the opening date of a new branch in another part of the state. He mentions that he wants his daughter, who is starting college in the fall, to be able to make payments for the car loan at a branch near the college, if possible.

In September, because Customer A inquired about a car loan three months earlier, he receives a follow-up from a call center, asking if he would like a loan. At that time, he informs call center personnel he already secured a car loan at his branch. In October, as part of a standard marketing effort, Customer A receives a mail offer from the bank regarding a car loan financing special. Around that time, Customer A also notices that a new “Car Loan Special” banner appears on the bank’s website.

The bank has connected with the customer through multiple touchpoints, and it has closed a sale, so the multi-channel approach has been successful from the bank’s perspective. Unfortunately, the customer doesn’t feel this way. The bank has engaged in unnecessary, non-productive follow up on a product he already purchased. He loses confidence in the bank because it failed to capitalize on the data from the sale—and the information he voluntarily shared.

The Omni-Channel Difference

Had the bank adopted a true omni-channel banking approach, the information from Customer A’s in-branch loan and subsequent call about the branch locations would have been collected and used to target future communication and sales efforts. The follow-up from the call center would have asked him how he liked his new car and confirmed he had no other loan or banking needs at the time. The mailer card could have thanked him for his business and invited him to consider supplemental loan products for his car loan.

This is a dramatic comparison, but the scenario that underlies it is fairly typical. Particularly for smaller community banks, the assumption is such an approach is too sophisticated to be affordable. Yet, the value of achieving and retaining customer “stickiness”—the desire by an account holder to reward the bank with future business—can make failure to capitalize on these opportunities even more expensive.

It is a painful fact for companies at all levels that consumers are taking control of their outcomes and experiences like never before. When they are dissatisfied, they not only make decisive choices about where they spend their dollars, they also share their experiences with friends, family and fellow consumers, and can literally impact corporate outcomes as a result.

This mindset shift has impacted the banking industry, where account holders now value good experiences above all other criteria other than financial stability. Referencing the Ernst and Young Global Consumer Banking Survey again, the number two reason, overall, for trusting a banking provider was “the way I am treated.” Furthermore, in a search for a financial services provider, 29 percent of survey respondents look to the advice of friends and relatives. Omni-channel banking, when implemented effectively at all levels including the branch, is a perfect mechanism for turning account-holders into satisfied influencers who will recommend their banks.

At the Branch Level

Until now, we have been discussing omni-channel banking from a bank-wide perspective, even though some of the interactions we described in our example took place in the branch. Returning to our original supposition, how can banks leverage omni-channel banking to help boost branch volumes and sales? Branches play a unique role in an omni-channel banking strategy. First, the ability to connect on a physical, more personal level enables branch personnel to gather relevant information, more easily. It also allows them to change outcomes for customers more quickly. Second, banks can actually refashion their branches into omni-channel operating centers, giving account holders and prospects more reasons to visit—and linger in—the branches. Following are a few examples.

  • Support multiple channels in the lobby. Enabling customers to perform virtual banking at a kiosk or on mobile devices while waiting to speak with a representative will enhance customer service and position the branch as “high-tech.”
  • Implement data collection programs that enable lobby and customer service representatives to capture meaningful customer insights for integration into future sales and marketing efforts.
  • Adopt a specialty branch model with a palette of inventive, enhanced services. This could include everything from financial and/or loan advisors, to offers on targeted products and services. It could even expand to non-traditional value-add services such as cyber-security consultations (another top item account holders want, according to a 2012 Cisco survey).
  • Implement advanced appointment booking solutions. Achieving a status as “respected, trusted advisor” involves respecting customers’ time. Banks that transition from traditional “sign-in and wait” models to proactive, advance-scheduling solutions position themselves as considerate and initiate the need for a future visit to the branch. The best of these systems incorporate an automated scheduling process, text and email confirmations and reminders, universal calendars and the ability to accept appointment requests via multiple channels (mobile device, Internet, in-branch and others).

A Very Bright Future

The branch will continue to play a major role in the customer’s interaction with the bank, especially those that are properly integrated into the Omni-Channel strategy. Accenture’s North American Consumer Digital Banking Survey found that 51 percent of account holders want their banks to recommend products or services that they might need, while considering which accounts they already have.  The Cisco survey referenced earlier found that 53 percent want their branches to handle their loans. Twenty eight percent even want banks to do their taxes. With statistics like these, omni-channel banking isn’t just a theory—it’s a practical solution that makes perfect sense.

Keeping Tabs on the Lobby: Tracking Key Sales, Service and Productivity with Intelligence-Gathering Solutions

March 6, 2017

This article originally appeared in Banking.com 

Most financial institutions (FIs) gather and analyze product and service metrics and other business intelligence (BI) in some form. However, branch and senior management often overlook an area overflowing with invaluable information—the lobby. Fortunately, technology now makes it simple for FIs to determine the value of service and sales efforts in the branch lobby—and facilitate more sales and better service, as well.

In the Queue
Historically, banks have relied upon sign-in sheets to manage lobby customer service efforts. Once a personal banker, loan officer or customer service representative calls a customer into his or her office, there is often no easy way for the agent to note activities and discussions and upload them to a central BI platform for meaningful analysis.

A far better solution—but one that surprisingly few banks use—is to track and manage customer experiences via a computerized solution from the moment they sign in or are greeted. Here’s how it works:

1. The customer signs into a terminal or iPad and provides his or her name, purpose for visit and any special information that might help the customer service agent assist them. Upon sign-in, the system notes the arrival time. (Optionally, a greeter can sign the customer in and input this information into the system.)
2. The system begins tracking wait time and alerts representatives and managers if it becomes excessive.
3. A service agent notes in the system that he/she will assist the customer, entering the name, reason for their visit and other details for use during the interaction, and then greets the account holder, by name, for the consultation.
4. During the consultation, the agent seamlessly updates the system with items discussed—not only services addressed but also products and cross-sell products suggested (with outcome, e.g. purchased or requires follow-up).
5. When the consultation is complete (or the customer transitions or is escalated to another staffer or different department, if appropriate), the agent closes out the session, which stops the time tracker.

Business intelligence solutions that track agent-customer interaction from sign-in let management know:

  • How long customers are waiting to be helped (and whether agents are responding to reminders about excessive wait times).
  • Average time spent in consultations during sales and service accomplishments.
  • Most prevalent topics during consultations (which can pinpoint hidden service issues and highlight future sales opportunities).
  • Percentage of service interactions, products sold, cases escalated and other important metrics during the average consultation.

Without a dedicated, user-friendly software solution, most managers and agents will not accurately record the details needed for such a powerful sales, service and performance analysis. When reports are utilized that analyze this and other data in real-time, the branch and senior management teams can gain vital insight into the health of their lobby service and sales efforts, segmented by specific time periods, high- and low-performing staff members, and other key metrics.

Analytics can generally be customized to enable reporting on any number of available metrics. To learn more about lobby tracking technologies and their benefits, we invite you to download our recent white paper on the topic https://www.kronos.com/resources/fmsi-2016-retail-branch-lobby-study

2016 FMSI Operational Excellence Award Winner – West Suburban Bank

February 22, 2017

FMSI, a Kronos company, and leading workforce optimization solution provider for banks and credit unions, announced today that West Suburban Bank was the 2016 winner of its annual Operational Excellence Award.  FMSI’s Operational Excellence Award recognizes the “best of the best” amongst its client base, including financial institutions all across North America.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve, and 2016 was a great year for us,” says Bill Jennrich, Vice President of Retail Banking at West Suburban Bank.

Reduction in Annual Labor Expense

With the help of FMSI’s Omnix Staff Scheduler and Performance Analytics™ software-as-a-service applications, West Suburban Bank reduced their year-over-year frontline staff labor cost by eight percent—resulting in significant savings for the institution.

“FMSI’s solution helps us to have the right number of staff adequately covering peak traffic times in the branch, along with minimizing excess staff during downtimes,” says Jennrich.

An important change in their workforce optimization strategy in 2016 was to begin utilizing a centralized scheduler, instead of allowing each branch to prepare their own.

“When we decided to dedicate a staff manager position to handle all our branch scheduling needs, we were looking to improve our staffing efficiencies, especially as it related to our part-time employees,” says Jennrich.

The effort certainly paid off for West Suburban Bank, who gradually saw improvements in their productivity throughout 2016, culminating in a 10 percent increase in their transactions processed per hour.

Hours of Operations

West Suburban Bank rolled-out ten Interactive Teller Machines into their branch drive-ups in 2016, in addition to the 11 machines they had in other branch drive-ups.  The effort led to efficiency gains providing 69 hours of service per week at each location.

“The ITMs have been great for us,” says Jennrich.  “We’ve seen a reduction in employee idle time and the customer reaction has been great.”

Upon going live, West Suburban Bank placed employees by the ITMs for the following three weeks to support their customers using this new technology.

Jennrich described their reaction as a matter of subtle change, and once they try it, they love it.

Back Office Efficiency Gains

West Suburban Bank recently implemented teller capture, gaining even more operational efficiencies in 2016.  Their EZTeller® check scanners have changed the face of processing check item image capture in their branches.

 

About the FMSI Operational Excellence Award

Stronger performance and sharper earnings result from effective programs being properly implemented by focused organizations. Through our twenty plus years of working with financial institutions, FMSI has identified key factors that drive an organization’s operational success.  A few of those factors include: board and staff engagement, sound fiscal health, sustained program management and, of course, a commitment to excellence.  FMSI’s Operational Excellence Award recognizes the “best of the best” amongst our client base.

The award is given to the institution that best exhibits the following traits in its tenure as an FMSI client:

  • Sizable improvement in quantitative success metrics (productivity enhancements, cost reductions, sales and service improvements, etc.)
  • Documented examples of a commitment to excellence
  • Innovation in the retail branch environment, such as creative branch hours, employee incentive programs, or implementing cutting edge technology

About West Suburban Bank

Since 1962, West Suburban Bank has offered a level of service and responsiveness that the mega-banks, despite their posturing, can never hope to attain. Our employees, from our tellers to our key decision makers, live in the communities we serve, so we understand the needs of our communities and our customers. And, because decisions are made locally, not at some far removed corporate headquarters, we can react quickly when those needs change. Learn more at http://www.westsuburbanbank.com.