The conversations I’m having with credit unions are shifting, as we move into fall and start thinking about a new year. Many leaders are starting to set their plans and priorities for 2022, while they navigate a growing list of challenges. At the top of the list is staffing and how credit unions can:
Attract new talent in a crowded job market
Prevent staff from becoming stressed out and disengaged
Reduce chances of staff leaving to go to other financial institutions
The question is, how do you juggle all these staffing issues without compromising on member experience?
We’ve worked with credit union leaders to tackle these challenges head on this year, and as a result, have pulled together a list of three actionable tips to keep in mind as you start to build out your plans for 2022.
Consider Having Advisors Service Multiple Branches
A common source of disenfranchised talent is under/over staffing at branch locations. It’s hard to determine which is more irritating—not enough team members on the floor or on the phone, affecting wait times and member experience. Or, too many people scheduled, leading to long hours and boredom. An effective way to combat this imbalance is to structure staff to work or “float” at multiple locations.
This effective movement of skilled employees helps credit union leaders reduce their overall operating costs (both headcount and unproductive time) and allows them to service more members with the staff that they have. In response to new hybrid work models, some FI leaders have even created virtual branches that enable advisors to serve multiple locations remotely, which cuts down on travel time and costs and makes it easier to plan for multiple client meetings. With the work-from-home changes caused by the pandemic, many credit unions have mentioned to me how members and staff are comfortable using technology to engage from afar.
So how to get it right?
Ensure that it’s easy for members to book time with their advisors, regardless of which branch (or virtual) location they choose.
Then make sure you’ve equipped your team with the tools they’ll need to host effective virtual meetings. How are you making it simple to gather documents, share information and focus on the most important and valuable conversations?
Leverage technology to capture better data to understand branch traffic patterns, typical busy times, and cyclical event behavior (end-of-the-month rush, tax time, etc.) to properly plan capacity for your operations.
Invest In Self-Serve Options For Your Members
Credit unions must work harder these days to attract, engage, and retain their employees. Recently, Financial Brand wrote an article that stated 80% of financial institutions are concerned about staffing their branches appropriately. Many credit unions are finding themselves with fewer staff members, which means they must do more with less—and keep the employees they have happy.
We’ve seen a big push towards more self-serve options with our customers, whether it’s through digital banking services, curbside service, online appointment booking, or self-check-in services in their lobby. By offering these new channels, you can do more with fewer staff, all without compromising on member experience.
Reducing the amount of transactional or administrative tasks your staff need to complete allows them to spend more time building member relationships, and boosts staff engagement. Many of our customers have found success in blending a supportive, autonomous culture with technology to enable this mind shift. Plus, it’s easier to attract top talent when they know they’ll be supported with best-in-class technology to help them do their jobs.
How have we seen other credit unions accomplish this?
Allow customers to book time with your team online (ahead of time or on demand) instead of having to walk into a branch.
Create self-serve check-in options in your lobby (virtual and physical) that allow them to let their advisor know they’ve arrived for an appointment and see if they’re running behind or on time.
Equip your contact center with tools to walk members through digital banking activities on the phone so they can reduce call-handling times while members are getting used to new channels/tools.
Get Smarter With Data
Many FIs are reimagining what their branch network will look like in the future, and which service delivery models will make sense–and there needs to be lots of good-quality data to make those sorts of investments. However, I’ve found that many credit unions are only scratching the surface of the data needed to make intelligent decisions on their digital transformation and workforce management.
The only way credit unions who truly want to digital transform can do so, is by using technology to better understand member needs, gather the data points to uncover problem areas and then measure the true impact of these issues. Leaders won’t know how much time their advisors are spending playing email tag to book, reschedule, and manage appointments with members until they start collecting that data.
Branch managers can’t properly staff up their centers without understanding the busiest times and required skill sets for anticipated member meetings. And they certainly can’t quantify the resources wasted, human errors encountered, and effect on member experience that this siloed operation causes.
Use technology to uncover your baseline metrics: many FIs still don’t know the average time for appointments between staff and members, how new members navigated through a website to open a new account, or even branch busy times for staffing purposes.
Ensure there is a central platform or location where your staff and leadership team can pull the data needed to make informed business decisions. This centralized data needs to span across all your credit union channels of engagement (website, in branch, phone meetings, etc.) and across the services you offer to uncover interesting trends.
Don’t stop at just internal operational data–regularly ask your members for their feedback. Some of the most creative, and transformative ideas I’ve seen from our customers started as a nugget of feedback from a member.
By capturing data from your members and providing it to your staff, they’ll have a better understanding of that individual’s “channel of comfort” in order to personalize the experience. That understanding, and the resulting empathy and member engagement, leads to a more loyal base of members, higher share of wallet, and more-fulfilled employees.
To Sum Up:
While I can’t convince you to offer more vacation days, a four-day work week, or higher pay for your staff to retain them, I can suggest that simpler and more efficient operation on both sides of the desk will help your staff maintain their engagement, while also improving member experience.
Strategies to help with staffing may be rolled out in different ways for each credit union, but the foundation remains the same–it’s so important to stay in tune with the needs of your staff and members as they figure out their “new normal” for banking.
The question you now need to ask yourself is: do I have the baseline metrics, the tools to measure and technology to gather up and aggregate the data? By doing so, you’ll be ready to evolve what your branches, service delivery models, and workforce will look like in 2022.
Katherine Regnier is CEO of Coconut Software, an enterprise appointment scheduling and lobby management solutions used by leading banks and credit unions across North America, including RBC Royal Bank, Arvest Bank, Vancity, and Rogue Credit Union.