Consumers’ branch visitation patterns are constantly changing—hour by hour, if you believe workforce optimization tech providers—and that means having 20 tellers on duty between 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning might be too many to handle the customer volume on May 5, but too few on August 6.

For SunTrust Bank, confronting the pressure to find the right staffing balance is leading it to upgrade its workforce optimization to consider minute trends when analyzing customer flow at branches. The $170 billion-asset Atlanta-based institution is deploying a staffing model from Verint Systems that provides a forecast of customer traffic patterns and demand in branches, and then matches scheduling of branch staff to anticipated need. Verint claims its engine can forecast demand and staffing to queue or position level within daily 30-minute intervals.

“The model has extensive capabilities to update itself,” says Darryl Demos, general manager of Verint in Boston, who says the constant updating also serves as a way to assure past volume data isn’t diluted by dramatic short-term changes in branch volume related to macro economic volatility. Once accumulated, historical data is then reviewed and analyzed for trends and positional impact before creating a staffing needs forecast that takes specific days, times and seasons into account.

“We’re able to look at historical information to identify recent changes in daily, weekly, monthly or seasonable patterns,” says Jane Barringer, group vp of branch staffing for SunTrust, which will begin a pilot shortly in anticipation of a full rollout to more than 1,600 branches. Workforce optimization platforms from firms like Verint, Nice Systems and Aspect could find increasing demand given the stress on institutions to maintain or increase customer service performance as budgets and staffs get smaller. However, Barringer insists the deployment at SunTrust is focused on properly matching workforce to customer flow, and isn’t related to staffing issues from recent downsizing at the bank, which has cut more than 2,500 positions over the past couple of years.

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