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Branches Benefit from More HR Data Driven Approaches

September 26, 2018

With turnover rates being so high for new branch employees, most credit unions are looking for tactics to improve employee engagement. Look no further than onboarding.  Starting a new job should be an exciting opportunity for branch employees, but too often the first day begins with uncertainty and confusion (Where do I park? Who should I ask for when I arrive?) followed by seemingly endless, mind-numbing paperwork. Let’s compare that traditional experience—to what onboarding could be.

First, the standard approach: Top candidates receive, negotiate and accept job offers and then don’t hear from their recruiting or hiring managers for weeks. They have to follow up to find out any details about their first day. When they arrive, they are ushered to an office where they spend hours filling out forms, thumbing through policy manuals and watching training videos. Their workstation may not be ready, they’re on their own to figure out lunch, and their manager may be too busy to welcome them until the end of an exhausting day.

Now let’s envision a better start: New employees receive an email from the hiring manager within days of accepting job offers, with a warm welcome, an agenda for the first day, an introduction to the financial institution and maybe even their new team, and links to required documents in paperless format with instructions on how to complete them electronically at their convenience.

When they arrive for their first day, new hires are treated as VIPs, greeted at the front door by their recruiter, manager, and/or new colleagues, who present them with a personalized gift of company swag. After a quick tour, they spend the morning (or day) learning about the organization and have lunch with their supervisors. When their initial orientation is completed, they are guided to meet their team and learn about how their training will proceed.

In short, suggests a new eBook from Kronos, “Improved Best Practices for Onboarding,

What you need to know to create a more effective new-hire strategy in financial services,” employers can design a new-hire strategy to “simplify the process for your HR team while delighting your new hires with a more positive experience.” The goal in re-envisioning onboarding is to enhance retention of new employees and to improve training and coaching so that they are more productive more quickly. The benefits of developing a more effective onboarding process could show up in:

  • reduced turnover, with a corresponding decline in recruiting and training costs;
  • improved service delivery and related financial results through a faster transition from new hire to trainee to proficient employee; and
  • positive buzz from new employees that offers an advantage in a competitive hiring market.

As the Kronos guide sums it up, “a good onboarding plan gives new hires clear direction from the start on their responsibilities and goals, provides solid training to set them up for success early, encourages engagement with their manager and coworkers, and monitors for trends to keep them on the right track.”

‘Gifted’ new employees

Union Bank & Trust, Lincoln, Neb., upgraded its onboarding program with the aim “to make it more of an experience for new employees than just showing up and getting paperwork shoved at them,” HRIS & Benefits Coordinator Katie Davis says.

In fact, a lot of that paperwork is behind them by the time they officially launch their careers with UB&T. In their “preboarding” phase, new staff members have the opportunity on their own time to review and sign required documents online through an automated paperless DocuSign system.

Now when they arrive for their first day, new employees are greeted with a personalized gift bag that includes a UB&T branded pen, tumbler and tee shirt to wear when volunteering in the community for their company. Their first-day orientation includes viewing a short video on the bank’s 100-year history that also introduces its CEO and a PowerPoint presentation reviewing the documents they have signed previously.

Other onboarding enhancements are a new employee checklist for managers to keep everyone on track with all the first-day and first-week introductions, Davis notes. For example, managers line up colleagues to have lunch with their new team member every day for their first week on the job.

Proactive, positive, productive

UB&T’s example demonstrates many of the elements at the core of revamping the onboarding process: automating the paper trail, planning a positive first day and first week for new employees, and lightening the load for HR and hiring managers with a handy checklist for scheduling and implementing each step in welcoming and training new employees—not just for the first day, but for the three to six months required for new hires to develop their skills, competencies and confidence to fully handle their responsibilities and get comfortable in their work environment.

Our new eBook sets out onboarding essentials from the first day (make sure the tour includes pointing out where the rest rooms are!) through the next six months (a final HR check-in to make sure employees are settled in and to seek their feedback on the process).

An additional advantage of establishing a formal onboarding program is that HR and hiring managers can more easily assess the effectiveness of its elements and monitor outcomes. Ongoing evaluation with the aim of fine-tuning the new-hire strategy brings this process full circle. Monitor turnover rates, especially among employees in the first six months. Establish your metrics for proficiency and then measure how long it takes new employees to get there. Set up regular check-ins with the HR team, trainers and managers to ensure completion of onboarding steps and discuss any useful modifications in the process.

Effective onboarding can and should be a positive experience for new employees and their managers and coworkers as their newest colleagues become productive contributors. Perhaps the best evidence that the process is working is that it will be needed less often as those new hires become long-term, impactful members of the team.

Perspective: Consumer vs. Executive Views of the Branch

September 20, 2018

celent consumer vs exectutive view

A new report from Celent highlights the difference in consumers and executive views of the branch.  For the most part executives were spot on, but the biggest discrepancy is the estimate of how many rarely, if ever visit a branch.

This is not surprising to see, because often times when executives visit a branch they see empty lobbies and teller lines. However, this can be misleading, as traffic comes in sometimes unpredictable waves.

See this Kronos branch study to see actuals around transaction levels in the branch.

New Poll: Consumer Confidence Still Low Since Banking Crisis of 2008

September 18, 2018

Loss of Faith

With confidence levels still wavering since the 2008 financial crisis according the above recent poll, financial institutions are still fighting an uphill battle towards earning back the trust of their account holders.

It’s really a function of winning the hearts and minds of one person at a time, and face-to-face interactions at the branch is key.  Having the right digital technology in the branch that helps augment the human experience, instead of replacing it, can be the difference maker financial intuitions are looking for.

See how a 60 branch institution used lobby management software to improve service and staff here.

Appointment Banking and Customer Change Management

September 10, 2018

couches in branches

For many, going to their local bank branch to interact with a non-teller employee has never changed.  They walk in, sign the clipboard and then wait to be seen by the next available service representative.  They might even consider it their lucky day if they walk in to find an empty waiting area.  Unfortunately, it would be more common than not for them to see two or three other people already waiting in the lobby ahead of them.

Fortunately, with the advent and adoption of new branch appointment applications waiting can be a thing of the past for account holders.  Additionally, no matter what their questions may be they are ensured to have the right employee to talk to every time they get an appointment.

This technology is gradually being adopted by financial institutions, and will likely be used by most in a few years.  One of the first questions for management teams who are considering appointment technology for their branches is how fast will our account holders adopt this new approach?

Of course this will vary widely depending on a number of factors, but those that enable their customers with the below change management tools and tactics will likely have much higher adoption at a faster rate.

Integrating appointment applications with lobby tracking software

Having an electronic clipboard forces your account holders to see what they could be missing when they sign-in.  Clearly highlighted in the below example in the middle and right tiles are appointment related functions.  After a likely wait, this is a feature they won’t forget to utilize next time they need to go to the branch.

lobby sign in

Utilize monitor queues in the lobby, highlighting those with appointments

Made popular by airport terminals, queue monitors help people see exactly where they are in line.  Not only is this feature convenient for those in the lobby, it can also serve as a constant reminder of the benefits of getting an appointment—with account holders with appointment clearly marked on the monitor.

lobby monitor

Increase awareness of the new appointment application to the account holders via direct marketing and display advertising in the branch

Getting the word out their about your new appointment software in the branch can be a worthwhile marketing project.  Use traditional methods, such as direct mailers or display advertising, or use more modern approaches like email promotions for loans with appointment software links integrated into the call to action.

Learn more about the results one bank had with adoption of their branch appointment software.


Holistic Dashboards Should Include These Branch Metrics at Financial Institutions

August 23, 2018

Fin Serv.jpg

It’s a simple idea. Financial institutions know they need to identify, predict, and manage opportunities for cost savings and productivity gains — all while improving the quality of their products and services. Unfortunately, for those that have been involved with analytics in banking, it’s much more difficult to implement a dashboard that has the right information to help managers gauge how well their organization is performing.

The good news is that there’s now new technologies, like open API frameworks and advanced analytics solutions that aggregate data from multiple platforms, in real-time.  The image above is a screenshot from one of these platforms, which includes customization, as well as templates to help guide you to the perfect dashboard.

Most noteworthy for this blog, is the idea of incorporating branch sales, service and productivity metrics for an executive level dashboard.  For example, there’s a walk-in vs. appointment interaction sales graph in the top left corner, among many other powerful branch charts in this tab.

These advancements and others like it are changing how financial institutions are managing their business. Learn more about some of these innovations in this informative infographic titled, Top Tech Trends Transforming Workforce Management.

Change in Branch Locations by Zip Code

August 23, 2018

adding cutting branches


Video: Strengthening Customer Engagement Through Digital Innovation

August 21, 2018

PWC digital transfomation

What does “digital” mean in today’s financial industry? PwC’s Scott Evoy says it can vary for each financial institution.

Learn more how digital solutions, like lobby management software, can improve customer engagement in the branch.

Bank Branch is the Preferred Channel for Financial Advice

August 14, 2018

new study commissioned by Samsung finds the bank branch to be the preferred channel for financial advice, across all generations.  Highlights from the study include:

  • 77% of consumers seek out a face-to-face transaction when discussing lengthier topics with their banks
  • 53% of consumers would like to pick up the phone for quick questions, rather than dealing with a digital solution
  • Visits to the bank branch across age groups only ranged between 74% (18-29 years) and 85% (60+ years)

“These results highlight the continued premium placed on face-to-face interactions when it comes to banking, and yet as these institutions continue to modernize, they must continue to invest in delivering excellent customer service,” said Bob Meara, analyst, Celent. “Investments in technology and staffing must reinforce the branches’ current and future strategic role. If banks do not provide a compelling sales and service in-branch experience to customers, it may be costly.”

Learn how lobby management software provides an effective queuing mechanism and facilitates more personal and efficient service.


New Infographic Highlights the Power of AI in Banking

July 31, 2018

AI in banking

Are You Relying on Dated Time Studies in Branch Scheduling?

July 18, 2018

Real-time data provides more accurate branch staff schedules

For all the changes in branch operations over recent decades, the fundamentals for delivering on service standards remain firm. Account holders expect friendly professional service and accurate transactions—and they don’t want to wait around for either.

While those expectations hold firm, the methods that financial institutions can employ to deliver great service as efficiently as possible have improved dramatically, especially in the area of staff scheduling. Time studies, a once-commonplace method for measuring employee output, have largely been replaced by systems that rely on real-time data on staffing and branch volume.

Time study refers to a structured process of directly observing and measuring employees’ work, literally counting the minutes to establish the average time required to complete specific tasks when working at a defined level of performance. In the past, time studies might have been a useful tool in scheduling staff in combination with forecasts of expected traffic. But in today’s fast-paced environment, relying on a manual process tied to forecasts based on historical patterns may lower service levels and increase costs.

You might say that the use of time studies in branch scheduling is well past its expiration date.

Financial institutions now have the opportunity to apply real-time data to guide scheduling, with much more accurate information about assist times, or the amount of time frontline employees typically spend with account holders to complete specific tasks. Rather than a general estimate of assist times across a wide range of product and service requests, lobby tracker software captures the actual time it takes to process individual interactions.

This data-based system can supply a whole host of information that would be impossible (or at least prohibitively expensive) to collect through time studies or is outside the purview of that tool, including assist times per product for individual employees; patterns in branch traffic and transactions by time of day, week, or month; and new accounts opened and other relevant sales statistics.

An automated alternative to the time study can facilitate more efficient staff scheduling and even alert managers when unexpected traffic spikes extend wait times beyond the financial institution’s specified target. In that event, other employees can step in to assist when needed to maintain service levels.

Compare that functionality to the practice of calculating staffing needs manually and based on historical patterns. If time studies are “close,” they might be just a minute off here and there—which is still significant when multiplied by the rate of transactions that occur over the course of a week or month. And that approach can’t account for differing traffic patterns and assist times from branch to branch, which widens the accuracy gap even more. However slight, those variations can add up to significant costs over time in terms of poor service and/or overstaffing.

The disparities between time-study estimates and real-time data can build up to the point that branch managers either abandon the use of that information in scheduling or continue to rely on inexact figures. Either way, staff schedules are not aligned with current traffic patterns, and the financial institution ends up either short-staffed or overstaffed.

The use of real-time data ensures that the basis for scheduling is continually updated and remains as accurate as possible going forward. In comparison, time studies are past their “sell-by date” soon after they are completed.

Access to real-time data in scheduling is especially crucial in state-of-the-art branches staffed with universal employees. Account holders are likely to use these service centers differently than when they relied on traditional branches, especially if the financial institution’s strategic aim is to encourage a new sales and service model in these settings. Over time, branch visits may take longer and result in higher sales as account holders shift away from routine transactions and toward more consultative interactions.

Universal employees tend to earn more than traditional tellers, so appropriate staffing becomes even more important to the bottom line. A lobby tracker system collecting real-time data keeps pace with evolving traffic patterns and customer expectations in a way that no time study can.

There was an era when time studies were considered a top-shelf solution for aligning staff schedules with the best possible estimates of service needs. But that approach is now out of date. The time that matters most to account holders is when they walk into a branch—and only real-time data can keep pace with those expectations.