Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Putting "The Help" in Front of the Customer

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Putting "The Help" in Front of the Customer

Article excerpt

For years, retail banks have struggled to get branch staffing just right. Branch managers know a five-minute wait (or less) is optimal for customer experience and probably affects cross-selling ratios favorably.

Still, having too many tellers on hand for what amounts to "rush hour" doesn't make sense either--especially in today's cost conscious environment.

TCF National Bank, Wayzata, Minn., struggles with finding that balance along with the next bank. But the $12 billion assets retail bank is especially aware of the need to get it right given its philosophy of "banking to everybody," which requires a populist touch and effective customer service efforts to make good on the brand promise.

A significant number of its branches are located in supermarkets in the states of Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, and Indiana.

"With in-store branches, traffic peaks and valleys are especially pronounced," explains senior vice-president of retail delivery, Peter Daugherty.

"We're trying to accomplish outreach to reach new customers and adequately serve our existing customer base and need to figure out the best way to staff up to meet those objectives."

The "outreach" in question refers to a fairly new program involving roving staffers who greet potential customers at strategic locations throughout the supermarket to ask about interest in setting up an account. (Sometimes, too, staffers will set display areas apart from the teller window itself that feature special offers to attract new interest.)

Daugherty is good natured about the ribbing he takes over "making bank product sales in the produce aisle."

"Finesse is called for so you don't interrupt consumers when they're making a purchasing decision, but rather move in during natural breaks that occur as a shopper proceeds from one part of the store to the next," says Daugherty.

He thinks the idea has worked well so far, though he acknowledges that one key to making it pay off is, of course, staffing appropriately at each branch location to meet the need.

Getting a handle on it

That's where the Click2Staff Forecasting application comes in. …

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