Human interactions in the branches are becoming fewer which makes them even more meaningful –both for the member and the staff. Why? Because face-to-face interactions are critical for delivering outstanding customer experience. And, they are still the primary source of new accounts, cross-selling, and referrals. Loyal customers will defect without them, limiting the opportunity for growth.
Your workforce is the lifeblood of organization. Putting the right bankers in front of your customers at the right time and place will improve member experience and branch performance.
Like everything else in banking, requirements for staff skills are changing. There is less of a need for specialization, especially around routine transactions as members are utilizing digital channels and self-service technologies to conduct such transactions. There is more of a need for skills like member engagement, complex service delivery, issue resolution, financial advice, and digital savvy.
Why Workforce Optimization Is Important
Workforce Optimization involves putting the right people in the right place at the right time in front of customers. When a branch is understaffed, customer experience suffers and sales opportunities are lost; when overstaffed, operational efficiency and profitability are compromised. Based on observations and analysis of over 50,000 customer interactions in hundreds of branches every year, Kiran Analytics estimates that nearly half of bank and credit union branches are overstaffed and another 15-20 percent are understaffed.
Optimized capacity means branches are resourced to meet sales and service targets with just-right staffing levels and with the right position mix. Workforce optimization software can play an important role in achieving that mix.
Overstaffing Is Not Just an Operational Efficiency Challenge
Research has proven that there is a positive relationship between staffing level and service quality in retail delivery. So, it’s no surprise that banking leaders choose to err on the overstaffing side instead of the understaffing side. Yet, branch labor expense is a significant operational expense. It needs to be minimized without compromising target service level.
There is another issue with overstaffing. What impression is your credit union making when members walk into a branch with multiple staff members sitting idle? And, how do under-utilized staff feel if they are not challenged? Considering that your branches are key to your credit union’s brand equity and your staff are curators of the brand experience, overstaffing is more than just an operational efficiency challenge.
Overstaffing during different days of the week or different times of the day may result from a variety of reasons including:
- Inaccurate demand forecasting,
- Non-optimal full-time, part-time, peak-time mix,
- Universal banker role clarity or utilization,
- Poor scheduling of shifts,
- Lack of staff collaboration to cover for unexpected scenarios like absenteeism.
No matter what the reasons, addressing overstaffing requires a holistic, advanced analytics-driven approach. One-size-fits-all approaches or spreadsheet based models are insufficient to accurately forecast transaction volume and optimal staffing mix. Branch managers need easy-to-use software to plan and schedule shifts taking into account planned time off and sick time for their teams. Branch staff members need mobile friendly scheduling applications to view their schedules, request shift swaps, and collaborate to cover unexpected scenarios.
Using Spreadsheets and Teller Transactions Can Result in Understaffing
As the nature of customer interactions in the branches changes, transaction volumes are lower but the variability of service times is higher. According to Kiran’s branch workforce optimization studies, it is estimated that as much as 50 percent of branch staff activities are untracked, including new product discussions, account fee questions, questions about digital and self-service options, and referrals. Spreadsheet based forecasting models that use declining teller transaction ratios to predict complex member-banker interactions are potential causes of understaffing.
The negative impact of understaffing can be much greater than that of overstaffing. In addition to poor customer experience and long wait times, understaffing affects employee satisfaction which ultimately impacts branch performance.
As the pace of branch transformation accelerates, credit unions need to make better workforce optimization decisions to minimize both overstaffing and understaffing. Analytics-driven decision making and innovative software provide the ability to continually optimize and engage your greatest asset – your workforce.