Make Good Use of Teller Downtime

Downtime accounts for up to 30% of scheduled hours at some institutions.

November 19, 2013

With teller transaction levels dropping some 45% over the past two decades, according to Financial Management Solutions’ (FMSI) 2013 Teller Line Study, it’s clear that branches have less traffic with each passing year.

Technological advancements, from remote deposit for commercial accounts to online and mobile banking, are forever changing the mechanisms by which credit union members interact with their branch and access their funds.

Yet, these same members still expect a branch to be open when they need “face time” to resolve issues or receive personalized attention. So, how can credit unions remain financially strong while satisfying member demands?

One mechanism is to improve productivity through efficient use of downtime, also known as idle time or “excess waiting for work time.”

Through comparative evaluations FMSI has performed on many of its credit union clients, we have determined that downtime now accounts for up to 30% of employee scheduled hours. Credit unions that more closely manage this resource can maximize their staff productivity across the board.

First, credit unions must create work schedules, not only to ensure coverage during busy periods, but also to plan for using idle time. This requires the credit union to be on top of the ebb and flow of its branch traffic volumes.

This can be achieved through a dedicated forecasting and scheduling solution or, less accurately, through observation, industry averages and/or manual recordkeeping.

Once the credit union identifies likely idle periods, branch management should stop relying on the employees to fill idle time, when it occurs, with “busy work” in the branch.

Instead, management should identify specific tasks preferably derived from overloaded, revenue-producing departments that staff can perform during designated work periods that are forecast to be idle.

These tasks include following up on loan documentation or perform outbound member service calls. Targeted training exercises also are a good use of this time.

Assuming the credit union’s forecasts are accurate, this approach will enable branches to accomplish more work without expanding payroll resources. Over time, it can enable the credit union to reduce staff.

W. MICHAEL SCOTT is president/CEO of FMSI.