Queue And Eh? Getting Down To The Nitty-Gritty Of Branch Realities

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It's one thing to talk about a branching strategy in broad terms, quite another to deal with the nitty-gritty of making it work at the branch level.

Here's how several bankers responded to questions about their branch strategies during BAI's Retail Delivery Show. Responding were Gene Kirby of SunTrust Bank and Neil Hall of PNC Bank.

Q: What authority do you delegate to your managers?

Kirby said local managers have "local override authority," which is tracked and monitored, but can be used to adjust a deposit rate, for instance, if a customer is looking to withdraw funds in favor of a better return elsewhere.

Q: How do you define your institutions' "distinctive experience," and what metrics do you use?

Hall: PNC has created a number of vehicles for monitoring that. We have regular shopping that goes on using regular customers of PNC. We have an 800-number and surveys done on an outgoing basis. We have also a 'customer experience checklist' in which we have people in the branch shop themselves and have others shop them. The big challenge here is to be consistent, but we do have the metrics to understand the variables.

Kirby: Our value proposition is focusing in on helping people and institutions to prosper, and look for ways to save them time, save them money, or make them money. That is woven into our branch model. We measure it on a number of fronts: we have a branch-level survey to 12 random clients every month at every branch, and the scores are in the branch manager's compensation plans. We also have a branch certification program where we have a team of internal folks who go out and inspect the top-performing branches, and there is certification for meeting standards of operation consistently.

Q: How do you integrate tellers and CSRs into the sales process, and how are they compensated for referrals?

Kirby: At SunTrust we see tellers as an important part of the overall sales process, and establish goals around that. It's really more of a team-based award. We did have an individual teller tracking component, but because it was a very small commission. We really spent more money tracking it, so we went to more of a team-based approach.

Hall: I think we are in a place where we are not clear yet where we are using a technology to put prompts in the teller window. This is very soft sell and I think we're trying to work through what is the appropriate way to compensate. Customers are interested in tellers doing teller work and not necessarily selling. And we're also managing turnover and the quality of the employee.

Q: What metrics are used to measure branch manager and performance?

Hall: We are using the checking relationships and the quality of the customer service shops. The leading indicators we have looked at in relationship growth is a definition now of what we consider an 'active' checking account, so we know how its used. We want to distinguish between people who are just hanging around and people who are legitimate customers. We want to see legitimate traffic.

Kirby: One, we have sales production vs. goals, and we do have a daily tracking system so every branch knows just where they are. Two, we have balance sheet growth objectives in which we monitor and measure branches on growth. We have resisted a branch-level P&L. We have chosen to focus on the things the manager can control. And three, service quality as defined by the shops.

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