I had a colleague who once told me, “As a Branch Manager, I always felt the hardest part of the job was keeping the branch on top of the ever-changing operational and compliance demands. I would get no credit for doing it right, yet there were negative repercussions for not doing things right. This meant I had to maintain the entire branch’s focus on day-to-day activities to meet service and sales goals and ensure everyone was engaged, getting the support they needed to do their job, and up to date on the latest policies and procedures. Running a branch was a daunting task and involved juggling a lot of different – and sometimes competing – goals.”
For branch managers today, it’s even harder. The core of the job is still the same, but you are doing it with fewer resources and higher customer expectations than ever before.
Many banks recognize this and have undertaken continuous improvement projects to pull “non-critical” activities out of the branches to reduce some of the burden. Unfortunately, there are limitations on what can be removed without creating significant additional costs and processes to manage. The branch is where the employees and customers are, and therefore where many activities must occur.
So, despite the focus on efficiency, there are many ongoing issues that have not been addressed and are open for improvement. Let’s look at some of these challenges from the perspective of both the bank and the manager.
For bank leaders, the challenge is managing the information flow from the various functions that want and need to reach branch staff, prioritizing that communication properly, providing all the relevant details, and ensuring that the information is received and understood. For the branch manager, the big challenge is wading through the various communication channels—e-mail, text, intranet, or other storage tools—prioritizing what needs attention and when, understanding where to go with questions or issues, and confirming receipt appropriately.
The pandemic highlighted how challenging it can be when these communications processes and tools are inefficient. A branch manager can spend hours carefully sorting communications and still miss mission-critical information, while corporate teams have no idea if the message has been received or not and which regions or branches need remediation.
For bank leaders to effectively manage and provide oversight of branch operations, someone needs to inspect the activities and outcomes. There are usually multiple systems to manage this (compliance training and tracking, HR systems, performance management systems, and more), requiring bank leaders to manually access the relevant data to monitor completion or compliance with a policy or procedure. The bank’s corporate team is often chasing process holes because the reporting lags behind the actions.
In the branch, I often needed to create and retain paper documents for audit or monitoring purposes. Unfortunately, there are still far too many processes that rely on paper forms. Actually, ensuring things get done is too complicated and time consuming.
Simplify Branch Operations
Fortunately, there are now technologies that can help alleviate all these problems and more. These modern software platforms provide branch managers a single, unified view with an actionable “to-do” list, presented in priority order for the day. This can include information sourced from various systems – from fraud alerts to PTO requests, to operations forms that can be completed via a mobile device, and more. Any system utilized in the branch today can be included. In addition, there is insight into the activities staff are expected to complete each day from a customer relationship management (CRM) or other activity or case management system. The solution can also digitize all your forms, allowing visibility within and outside the branch upon completion, and any authorized user can access completed forms to “audit” them for completion. Oh, and you have the option to update those forms – to add, delete or change questions and function areas as needed – all at your fingertips.
Today’s retail banking leaders can help branch staff better execute the modern operations models by giving them access to software tools that holistically organize, manage, and deliver real-time views of tasks, communications, and more. With the right technology systems in place, you can elevate your branch efficiency to the next level—the level you will need to be at to deliver operational excellence, great service, and grow your branch business despite the constraints of staffing efficiency expectations.
To learn how Zebra is helping banks power branch efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, reach out to your local Zebra representative.