South Carolina Federal Credit Union
An evaluation of the customer experience at various branches to uncover opportunities, which would improve branch effectiveness, driving sales, profitability and competitive advantage
Retail banking customers today have more choices than ever before in terms of when, where and how they bank, making it critical to present options that appeal directly to their customers. However, banks’ efforts to provide enhanced services are still falling short of customers’ desires and expectations. Many are still failing to elicit behaviours that can help them save costs or improve revenues by providing referrals or buying more products, and despite investment in low cost digital channels, branch usage is not reducing to the extent predicted. Customers still turn to the branch with all kinds of problems and in equal measure, whether applying for a simple product or one that requires more advice and guidance. However, a growing number of younger customers, much less loyal, are moving to new channels in ever-greater numbers. Banks are now tasked with meeting these ever-rising expectations as well as competition from new kinds of banks eager to differentiate by providing superior customer experiences.
South Carolina Federal Credit Union is a community driven bank, located on the east coast of America with approximately 19 branches, from Moncks Corner to Charleston, facing the exact same challenges. A broad spread in demographics and geographies meant that some branches, were extremely busy, but struggling to convert the high footfall into sales. Uptake to digital channels was lower than predicted and where service capacity had been reduced, frustrated customers would be forced to wait in line for long periods. On the flip side, branches with lower footfall, were experiencing slightly better conversion, but commitment from existing customers to buy more products was much lower than expected, as too was advocacy.
Kevin Kosco responsible for SCFCU’s branch network, invited us to conduct a study of a few of his branches, to decode why problems were occurring and to identify ways which would drive sales, profitability and competitive advantage for all his branches – both with high and low footfall.
Following hours of research in the field, the solution to the problem could be simplified into two categories.
For branches with high footfall, the root cause of the problem was demand. At least 10% of customers visiting busy branches arrived with issues that occurred outside of the branch, including ‘the forgotten password journey’. Peaks in demand could be predicted, yet staffing levels did not match customer traffic. In addition, systems at the teller counter, were slow and ineffective resulting in a low number of referrals to the sales platform, leaving sales staff under-utilised during peak times. By solving the forgotten password issue, improving staff scheduling, simplifying systems at teller counters and deploying sales staff more proactively during peak times, we uncovered significant opportunities for busy branches to increase sales and profitability.
For branches with lower footfall with no long lines at the teller counters, problems were slightly different. Up to 30% of sales platform time was spent dealing with low value transactions such as debit card renewals and no system was in place to manage demand. This meant sales customers would often wait over 30 minutes to see an advisor, with predictable abandonments and low satisfaction. By moving low value work away from the sales platform and introducing a simple appointment system, we uncovered significant opportunities for less busy branches to also increase sales and profitability.
Following the implementation of our recommendations, Kevin and his team increased conversion rates by 2% across the entire branch network, whilst significantly increasing capacity. SCFCU are now well on their way to executing the bank’s strategy for growth through a multi-channel approach. The biggest lesson we learnt is that although banks face similar challenges, solutions for branches are determined by its demographics as well as where they are situated – one size does not fit all!
AT A GLANCE:
- Over 120 hours of observational activity across various branches capturing demand, tracking journeys, measuring the use of facilities, observing behaviours and interviewing customers and staff
- Busiest branches were least effective at converting sales opportunities
- Low number of referrals between teller and sales platform at high volume branches – max. 5 observed
- High number of walk-outs at busiest branches – 12 observed at West Ashley
- 10% of customer demand avoidable e.g. forgotten password queries
- Limited use of self-serve facilities – used only 8% of the time observed
- 15% to 30% of sales platform staff time spent on low value transactions e.g. debit card renewals
- 10 customers observed waiting over 30 minutes to see an advisor at the sales platform
- Opportunities to drive increased sales, profitability and competitive advantage:
- Introduction of welcome person, at peak, to signpost, handle quick enquiries and promote self-serve
- Reduce failed demand by improving forgotten password journey
- Improve scheduling of staff at teller counters, especially during peak serving times
- Increase referrals by simplifying and streamlining processes at teller counters
- Increase capacity of sales platform by removing low value activities
- Introduce appointment management system to plan and regulate the flow to sales platform
- Re-define customer journeys to exploit commercial opportunities
- 2% increase in conversion rate and number of products sold by improving customer satisfaction, increasing referrals, reducing walk-aways and exploiting commercial opportunities at key stags of the journey
- 270,000 USD’s in efficiency savings by reducing low value activities and increasing sales platform capacity
- 10% volume reduction from fixing forgotten password issue