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Webinar: Is it Time to Take a Closer Look at Branch Efficiency?

September 14, 2017

Branch-based transactions are on the decline — so what can your bank or credit union do about it?

Register for our webinar to learn how certain trends are influencing today’s branch evolution throughout the financial industry — and hear about one customer’s experience in transforming their branch model to be more efficient, productive, and aligned with today’s customer needs.

We’ll explore the results of the FMSI 2017 Teller Line Study — which tracked more than 16 million teller transactions at banks and credit unions across North America — to show how transaction volume and teller processing labor cost data can be used to maximize workforce optimization, reduce operating costs, and improve sales and service levels.

In addition, our guest customer from QNC Bank will share their branch transformation experience that went from traditional to more customer-friendly with an emphasis on the technology customers want.

Presenters:Chad Davis, Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Kronos
Dale Wentz, EVP/Chief Retail Officer, QNB Bank

Personal, Personnel: Reinventing the Retail Branch in 2017

August 29, 2017

This article originally appeared in BAI Banking Strategies

By Kevin Steel, Industry Principal, Kronos

In recent years, consumers have increasingly turned to online and mobile banking channels to fill their banking needs. In fact, 62 percent of consumers now conduct most of their banking activity online or via mobile apps—this according to a report by Fabrice Albizzati, “Reinventing U.S. Retail Banking: Keys to Creating the Omnichannel Bank Branch Experience.”

While the rapid adoption of digital banking has led to a sharp decline in branch traffic, it doesn’t necessarily signal the imminent demise of brick-and-mortar banking. That said, it highlights the need for branches to change with the times. What’s more, this transformation forces banks to rethink their approach to hiring, staffing, managing and engaging employees to balance customer expectations with economic realities for sustained competitive success.

Despite the growing popularity of alternative banking channels, customers continue to value face-to-face transactions and interactions. In a 2016 Accenture study, 86.7 percent of banking customers said they expected to still use physical bank branches two years in the future. And of those respondents, 47 percent said they would do so because they receive more value through human interaction. These findings indicate that branches still constitute an important component in a retail bank’s overall channel strategy. But given the physical branch’s high-cost infrastructure, the time has come to reinvent the branch model to align with changing customer demands and fiscal constraints.

Back to Work: Workforce Management Reconsidered

As branches evolve, banks must rethink their workforce management practices to balance customer service with operational efficiency. The focus no longer rests on how many full- and part-time employees banks need to staff their branches; rather, it’s now on what roles employees should fill and how to optimize staff productivity and engagement. With this shift in focus, traditional approaches to hiring, staffing, managing and engaging employees will no longer suffice. Leading-edge workforce management practices—and supporting technology—can help banks deliver a superior branch experience while controlling costs and improving performance.

Customers Bid Adieu to Queuing

Remember the days when customers queued up at the branch for the next available teller? This familiar scenario is quickly becoming outdated as customers perform more routine transactions from a desktop computer or a mobile device. As a result, retail banks must reimagine the branch model to deliver a more engaging experience—one that creates profitable, long-term relationships with customers. Industries such as retail, hospitality and travel have raised consumers’ service expectations with innovative technologies and engagement approaches. Banks must make similar changes to deliver the kind of customer experience that builds loyalty and drives competitive success.

Forward-looking retail banks address these challenges by investing in comprehensive “branch transformation.” Many now implement new branch designs with open floor plans, beverage stations, hightech displays and self-service kiosks. In addition, more branches provide access to banking specialists in a consultative environment much like that of the Apple’s Genius Bar; this allows customers to pre-book appointments and avoid long wait times. Some branches even offer to send an employee to a customer’s home, office or other location to discuss loans, mortgages and other financial products.

Higher and Hire: Staffing the Reimagined Branch

The same old approaches to hiring, staffing and development simply won’t cut it in the branch of the future. After all, having the right employees who can handle more complex, consultative interactions will prove key to a great branch experience. That’s why more banks are shifting toward “universal agents”: bank employees who can provide a broad range of services rather than specialize as tellers, loan officers or personal bankers. This improves staffing flexibility but also means that banks must recruit employees with the appropriate skill set—including some sales experience—or develop existing staff to take on this multi-faceted role.

Optimizing the productivity of branch staff is also critical, especially given the steady decline in foot traffic. Roy Karon, president and CEO of BVS Performance Solutions, notes that some “banks are redeploying staff during slower-volume periods to handle product, account or loan inquires made via video on a cross-branch model.”

As these new service options gain traction, managers will need real-time visibility into customer demand in order to deploy staff for maximum impact.

Tech Innovation Supports Branch Transformation

Retail banks must not only hire the right people, but also manage them effectively to ensure a successful branch transformation. Implementing state-of-the-art workforce management technology, including automated tools for hiring, forecasting, scheduling and labor analytics, can help banks to:

  • Track, screen, select and onboard best-fit candidates to deliver a great branch experience
  • Generate accurate labor forecasts to avoid overstaffing and understaffing, which can impact service levels and budgets
  • Schedule the right people in the right place at the right time, and reallocate employees as needed to maximize service and minimize idle time
  • Gain real-time visibility into workforce trends and identify potential issues so they can take immediate corrective action

Prepare for the Branch of the Future Today

As retail banks work to reinvent their branches, they should take cues from other industries that utilize workforce management technology to improve the service experience. For example, as retailers install self-checkout stations and introduce appointment setting for in-store consultations, they use forecasting and scheduling software to staff the right number of people, with the right skills, to deliver a personalized and rewarding shopping experience. At the same time, mobile capabilities enable retail managers to reallocate employees on the fly to improve productivity and service.

With its increased focus on consultative services, the branch of the future requires a more flexible and innovative approach to managing and engaging employees. Modern, integrated workforce management solutions provide the automated tools and real-time visibility needed to optimize your biggest asset and primary differentiator for competitive advantage and better business outcomes. That asset, without doubt: Your employees.

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.

FMSI 2017 Teller Line Study Now Available

July 27, 2017

The FMSI 2017 Teller Line Study highlights transaction volume and teller processing labor costs and shows how banks and credit unions are responding.

 

FMSI 2017 Teller Line Study

Over the past 25 years, the banking industry has witnessed a costly combination of steady labor cost increases and continued branch traffic declines. Average monthly volume for teller transactions is down 34.2 percent since 1992, while teller labor costs for the same period have risen a staggering 147.9 percent, forcing financial institutions to respond.

By analyzing transaction volumes, pay rates, labor costs per transactions, and part-time employee utilization, institutions can gain insight into how they can maximize workforce optimization and reduce operating costs.

You’ll see how branches are evolving and identify issues that executives and frontline management are facing, including:

 

  • Assessing the impact of mobile and online banking
  • Taking a closer look at the sales-centric branch
  • Reviewing the trends on transaction analysis

Download this informative study to learn how you can respond to declining branch transaction rates, rising teller labor costs, and reduced workforce productivity with human capital management scheduling and optimization solutions that allow you to get the most out of your branches.

 

Download Now

Webinar: Changing Branch Experience Expectations

July 18, 2017

DFCU Financial Logo

Join special guests from DFCU Financial and Kronos as they explore how to meet ever-increasing customer service expectations through technology. Included are key appointment study findings and what they mean to banks and credit unions that want to improve the branch experience.

Our experts will reveal:

  • Enhancing your branch appointment programs with benchmarking data that includes total appointment visits to the branch, appointment status results, and type of products and services requested
  • Adapting the branch experience to align with consumer retail technology expectations
  • Best-practice tips on how to gain the most from your appointment-setting approach

See how appointment-setting technology can help your financial institution improve the customer service experience, increase operational efficiency, and increase sales for better business outcomes. Register today!

Helping banks improve the onboarding process with technology

July 13, 2017

This article originally appeared in Community Banker Insight

By Chad Davis, Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Kronos

Branch bank employees strive to do their best for account holders, sometimes going above and beyond by performing extra tasks that are not always possible during regular business hours. When these tasks are done, however, the banks benefit significantly by seeing increases in employee engagement, retention, and revenues.

Onboarding falls into this category as it creates effective ways for banks to provide a positive customer experience, foster long-term loyalty, and differentiate their institution. Yet despite its effectiveness, onboarding often gets relegated to a secondary task for employees to do when/if they have free time.

Typically, many banks and other financial institutions ask employees to help onboarding (or various other account holder services) whenever they’re not busy. However, this type of policy is simply too vague and doesn’t do enough to hold employees accountable. Despite employees’ good intentions, onboarding simply doesn’t get the full attention that it should, resulting in a huge missed opportunity for the bank.

Why focus on onboarding?

Regardless of the lack of acknowledgement it receives, onboarding is still extremely important, as evidenced by research that shows that 59.6% of financial institutions (banks and credit unions) indicated that onboarding programs will be a more important strategy in the coming year.[1]

When done well, onboarding successfully overcomes many common obstacles most banks face and provides ample benefits:

  • Creates a positive account holder experience: Onboarding helps to get new account holders more engaged with the financial institution early in the relationship, helping them feel more valued and appreciated.
  • Promote long-term loyalty and reduce attrition: Engaging with account holders early in the process is critical to increasing loyalty. Research shows that when banks implement an onboarding initiative, attrition levels drop by one-third, down to just 9.5 percent.[2]
  • Provide higher quality interactions: Millennials and other heavy digital users (of financial services products) still prefer to visit a bank for advice on financial products or services. In turn, these higher quality interactions are more likely to lead to additional product sales and cross-selling opportunities.[3]
  • Increase “share of wallet”: Each account holder owns many different financial products, but chances are only a few of them are with just one institution. Onboarding properly increases the likelihood of developing stronger relationships, leading to more effective cross selling efforts.
  • Improve the value of the relationship: When considered in total, these benefits give banks everything they need to retain account holders, increase revenues, and truly maximize the value of each opportunity.

Success with technology

Although the benefits of onboarding are proven, many banks still struggle with how they can actually make it and other valuable account services part of a daily/weekly process. This is particularly true if such tasks are not currently employees’ primary responsibility, or if they are already busy in their existing role.

Employee scheduling technology can achieve this objective by giving banks the ability to forecast actual demand, in terms of account holder traffic in the branch, helping supervisors create best-fit schedules to make sure they are staffed to provide ideal service during busy times. Additionally, it gives them the power to anticipate and plan during the slower times by enabling supervisors to create schedules that let employees know when they should focus on other tasks, like onboarding activities.

Make it a “must”

Most banks are aware of onboarding and the many benefits it can provide, but many either lack the disciplined approach to onboarding or resort to a system where employees are not obligated to onboard account holders during slower times.

With employee scheduling solutions, banks can overcome such challenges and make onboarding part of a regular, ongoing process. And when they do, banks are poised to reap the related benefits: better account holder experiences, improved retention, and increased value of these relationships.

 

# # #

[1] The Financial Brand, “State of Marketing in Retail Banking,” February 2014.

[2] Harland Clarke Marketing Services, “The Three D’s of Onboarding Success,” 2013.

[3] FMSI, “Millennials’ Relationship with the Branch.”

New Infographic Reveals High Adoption Rates for Branch Appointment Software

July 12, 2017

Customers are scheduling meetings with appointment software at convenient times and locations.

  • 84 percent of appointments that are booked are kept.
  • The ability to make appointments for complex transactions like loans and mortgages is being valued.

Learn more about the benefits of appointment-setting technology in the Kronos FMSI Appointment Study, which this infographic is based on.

Appointment Infographic Thumbnail

Download the infographic here.