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Branch overhaul? Banks head to the mall for inspiration

Two years ago, a group of bankers from Chelsea Groton Bank piled onto a bus and drove to a mall in suburban Connecticut. Their assignment was simple — learn about different retailers’ customer experiences.

What are you observing? How are their employees engaged?” said Lori Dufficy, Chelsea Groton’s director of sales and service. “What are they wearing? Are they proactive or reactive? Are they making suggestions? Are they knowledgeable?”

Since that field trip, the $1 billion-asset mutual has shifted its branch staffing strategy to be more efficient, modern and appealing to employees. Under the new system, each branch employee is trained and then assigned a level. That employee can learn more responsibilities over time to move up to the next level. Dufficy refers to the system as a “matrix.”

As branches continue to evolve to become more service and education-oriented, banks of all sizes are tweaking their staffing models. While the universal banker concept has been in vogue for several years now, some banks are taking the idea a step further to retain and recruit talent.

A new report from Novantas highlights the urgency of this, stating that banks “need to start overhauling traditional staffing models because mere tweaks to existing workforce strategies just won’t be enough.”

Darryl Demos, one of the report’s authors, said that banks should adopt skills from other industries to improve their sales approaches. He added that some banks are “jumping through hoops trying to work with an old staffing model approach.”

“If you think about it, 10 to 15 years ago 80% of the work in branches was transactional,” Demos said. “It was a predictable model. That is now flipped on its head.”

Pierre Habis, head of consumer banking of the $121 billion-asset MUFG Union Bank in California and president of its new unit called PurePoint Financial, sees both sides of the issue.

Read the full article at American Banker

For more information, contact Novantas Marketing

+1 (212) 901-2772


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