Since its formation in California in 1874, Bank of The West has seen its business undergo many dramatic changes. Initially, the bank was formed to support farmers in Northern California. The bank has grown aggressively through 15 acquisitions in a two-decade period. As a result, Bank of The West now serves more than 3.75 million consumer and business accounts in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Currently, Bank of The West has $55.6 billion in assets, more than 700 branch banking locations and commercial offices, and nearly 10,000 employees.
Typically, such a spectacular metamorphosis begets managerial challenges, and a major one that the bank has faced is standardizing its business processes. Upon completing an acquisition, the bank faces performance measurements and staffing model issues in the newly-acquired branches. Consistency throughout the footprint is the key to improving operations, enhancing customer service, creating greater operating efficiency, and increasing sales.
Branches serve as the frontlines for retail banks, and thus it is especially important to address their issues. Industry studies show that 9 of out every 10 customers visit a branch at least once per month, where approximately 95% of all sales transactions are completed. U.S. companies spend $124 billion on branch office staff each year.
Bank of The West has an overall Customer Service Satisfaction rating of 90% from its customers and has the distinguished Greenwich Associates Award, among others for outstanding customer service. While Bank of The West is known for their superior customer service, it constantly strives to do better and raise the industry standard. In addition to streamlining its branch office staffing efforts, Bank of The West wanted to improve its back office operations. Federal regulations require financial institutions to keep a certain amount of cash in reserves. If they have too little on hand, they are forced to request special “emergency” deliveries, a service that comes at a significant cost. If banks have too much cash on hand, they lose the interest that their money could be generating. Bank of The West, therefore, was also on the lookout for a better way to manage its cash.
When it comes to banking technology solutions, GMT Corp. is one of Bank of The West’s most strategic partners. The relationship started in 1996 when the financial services institution began using GMT’s Planet workforce optimization system to improve teller staffing.
The product – easy to use, accurate, and affordable – delivered so much functionality that the financial services company expanded its use of GMT Planet to its contact center. The system supports skills-based scheduling, reports real-time adherence, and ensures compliance to company standards. In just two quarters in 2006 alone, GMT helped save the bank an estimated $8 million in operating costs.
“GMT has provided us with robust, user-friendly tools, so we can manage our operations as efficiently as possible – and that is a ‘must’ in today’s highly competitive financial services market,” said Janet Simpson, Senior Vice President of group operations at Bank of The West. Consequently, the financial services company relies on GMT across its enterprise and had found that GMT products deliver value in numerous ways.
GMT Planet’s reporting system provides branch and regional managers with the tools needed to assist in the validation and/or reallocation of branch office staff. The system collects branch data (such as shift time, transaction volume, transaction times) and accurately forecasts customer demand, so managers can effectively schedule staff levels and make sure the right amount of resources are available at the right time to service customers and drive additional sales.
In a two-year period, the bank added 370 branches as a result of the 2004 and 2005 acquisitions of Commercial Federal Bank, Community First Bank, and United Safe Deposit Bank. As Bank of The West examined the branch staffing levels via GMT Planet, it found instances of overstaffing and understaffing. By providing the branches with more flexible staffing options (part-time, flex-time) and reallocating staff, the financial services company was able to reduce its number of full-time tellers by 184, a change representing more than $8 million annual savings alone.
In addition to lowering costs, the bank is able to guage the performance of individual branches. Acquisitions may impact service levels; but with GMT Planet, managers can effectively navigate through such transition periods. With GMT Planet, Bank of The West is able to adjust employee workloads during the transition and later reset expectations to the normal level.
Beyond managing people, GMT also helps Bank of The West manage its other key resource: its money – using GMT CashMaster since 2001. Originally, the financial institution ran the cash management solution at 165 branches, but that number has ballooned to more than 400. The bank is now able to identify and redirect the use of excess cash, capabilities that increase the company’s profitability by reducing non-earning assets.
Helping to drive performance, GMT’s broad, enterprise-wide product line provides Bank of The West with a rock-solid foundation, one that will enable the bank to continue its strong growth in the highly competitive, rapidly evolving financial services market.
Bank of The West Results
1. Streamlined and standardized staffing in acquired banking branches for an estimated $8 million inefficiency gains during just two quarters in 2006
2. Greater visibility and insight to better balance workloads and staffing requirements as well as manage fluctuations
3. Forecasting accuracy of up to 99%+ for 400 agents stationed in two call centers
About Bank of the West:
At Bank of The West, they take pride in contributing to nonprofits and volunteering in their communities to making a point to get to know our customers by name. Bank of The West aims to stand apart. While many things have changed over their bank’’s long history, one thing has remained the same: commitment to customers and community.
Verint Systems is a provider of analytic software-based solutions for the security and business intelligence markets. Verint solutions transform voice, video, and text into actionable intelligence - mission-critical insights for achieving strategic goals. Verint solutions are used in global and diverse markets, including: governments, law enforcement, and transportation; global corporations and financial institutions; retail and gaming establishments; and telecommunications and utility providers.
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2007
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