I’ve been working in banking for a long time, and 2008 was the last time banks were in the news as much as they are today. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the ups-and-downs of cryptocurrency might be grabbing the headlines, but the challenges to modern banking go beyond those things.
The way our customers interact with us is evolving. According to Bankrate.com, use of mobile banking as a primary method of account access rose from 15.1% in 2017 to 43.5% in 2021. They also found that while 65% of consumers use a traditional bank for their primary bank account, 61% said they were highly likely to switch to an online-only bank.
From my perspective, banks with branches must respond by increasing efficiency and optimizing branch manager and employee time so they can spend more time on customer-facing and revenue-generating tasks.
And, as I’ll show you, these are not just my thoughts. Respondents to our Fourth Annual International Branch Banking Employee Survey told us the same thing. Let’s tackle the key issues one at a time by talking about what you can do right now.
1. Increase Efficiency, Empower Branch Employees
In addition to serving customers and generating revenue, bank branch employees, especially managers, must create and modify schedules, execute administrative and operational tasks, and log their completion, among a myriad of other tasks. I don’t know when you last spent a few hours, much less a full day, on the floor filling in for these roles, but it takes a lot more time to complete these tasks than upper-level management might realize.
According to our survey, the average branch manager spends 25% of their time per week on these tasks. That is time that could be far better spent on customer-facing and revenue-generating tasks.
These inefficiencies occur because many banks haven’t implemented smart banking solutions that consider employee preferences and customer demand during scheduling, much less automate the process. Nearly two thirds (61%) of survey respondents say they face scheduling challenges and 74% deal with task challenges due to inefficient home-grown solutions.
By implementing the right kind of banking solutions, you will both free your employees to focus on your customers and increase their job satisfaction. But don’t take my word for it. Take theirs. The majority (85%) of respondents said their job satisfaction would improve if they spent more time on customer-facing activities. Higher job satisfaction, higher retention.
2. Retain Your Best and Brightest
Another thing which has been in the news constantly is the tight labor market. According to research by Crowe LLP, nonofficer turnover reached 23.4%, the highest since 2019. This is partly a legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to employees reimagining ideas like work-life balance. Employees want more input into their schedules. (You probably do, too.) Moreover, 86% of banking survey respondents want to be able to fully manage their schedules on a mobile device. Only 36% say they have all the tools they need to complete tasks like viewing their schedules, changing their personal preferences, requesting time off, and requesting shift swaps.
With 61% of survey respondents reporting using home-grown solutions to manage schedules, it makes sense that this would lead to a lack of “nice-to-have” capabilities. A sophisticated workforce management solution can fix that. It can also eliminate the frustration your IT team might face trying to constantly refine the homegrown platform and meet evolving minimally viable product standards.
If you find the right solution partner, you’ll be able to work together to build upon a solid baseline platform to give your employees the capabilities they desire and reduce the work for your managers in addition to your IT team.
As I pointed out before, the average bank manager spends 25% of their time on scheduling and logging admin and operational tasks. But if you leverage a workforce management solution that was designed specifically for the financial space (accounting for many of the lessons learned by retailers), it will save them valuable time, giving them opportunities to coach employees, serve customers, and generate revenue.
An additional benefit of a modern workforce management solution involves multi-branch scheduling. Our survey found that 2-in-3 associates picked up at least one shift in an alternative branch in the last six months.
Automating these processes will help increase your branch employees’ job satisfaction while also giving your labor budget additional room to breathe.
3. Improve Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
At the top of this post, I wrote about how our bank customers are changing. They’re increasingly opting to conduct much of their banking needs online or via mobile devices.
But customers still want branches for the big things. When they want a small business loan or a mortgage or to plan for retirement, they still want to be able to walk into their local bank’s branch and talk to an experienced human being. At least for now, online chat bots won’t cut it when it comes to making the bigger financial decisions in a person’s life.
So, this is where your investments in banking solutions really pay off. With managers free to spend more time coaching and with customer and employee retention up, you have the foundation for success.
Now, when a customer comes in to complete a high-value transaction like getting a mortgage, you can have the confidence that they won’t be waiting around for an hour to get their needs served. You can be confident that the employee or manager with the right set of skills is there at the right time to manage the customer appointment and provide them with all the guidance they need to sign on the dotted line.
Banking is all about relationships. As your branches face the challenges of changing customer and employee demands, it is strong relationships that will help you weather the storm.
The strong relationship you build with your branch managers and employees by listening to their need for innovative technologies that make their life easier will free them to spend more time with customers, generating revenue and improve employee retention. This, in turn, gives them the chance to develop deeper relationships with your customers, helping them control their financial future and generating revenue for your business. (And you thought human-centered automation was only for manufacturers, warehouse operators and retailers!)
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use Zebra Banking solutions to help improve operational efficiency, employee retention, and customer satisfaction in your bank branches, visit us online or contact us directly.