Many financial, and non-financial, operations have a branch network. In many cases, these branches are required to have a minimum staffing level just to ensure that they can handle holidays and shift rotas. Additionally, a minimum staffing level is required for peak periods, and health and safety concerns. It is an additional, inherent, personnel cost of having a branch-based interface with the customers. There are other business constraints, that cause a similar effect to the pattern seen in call centres – not all of the employees are busy all of the time. When employees are busy all of the time, we can say their work time is fully utilised. When they are not busy all of the time, we consider them available for work. For example, a teller is busy when a customer is at the counter. On the other hand, they are available for other work when there is no customer needing services. Over the day, this availability quickly adds up and can (excluding breaks), become hours per employee, per day (even if they may be very busy at peak times e.g. the start of the day, the lunchtime hours, and the end of the day).
We call this time available a Latent Capacity, and with some assistance from solutions like OPX, the latent capacity can be used to benefit the business.
OPX gets the right work to the right people at the right time. It does this by having a holistic picture of the service requests across the organisation, the capacity of the team members to handle this demand, the company’s expected service level’s goals and aspirations, and finding the right work for each individual in real time. While OPX also provides forecasting and capacity planning, it’s the real-time aspects that are most important in our branch example scenario. We might have three or four employees, but only enough face-to-face service demand for two employees.
What does this smart work allocation look like?
First, we look at all of the services being provided to the customers and suppliers, and aim to identify services and service demands that are:
- Not immediate or instant – as the tellers may be busy; if someone walks in, their primary work is still serving a customer face-to-face service.
- Does not take an extended handling time – as the tellers may be interrupted by a face-to-face service request.
- Is not overly complex – as an activity that takes, e.g. 60 minutes, it may end up taking twice or three times that, if the teller is interrupted by face-to-face interactions and must resume their task and rebuild lost focus.
- Is easy to set aside and come back to – as at any point the teller may pause the work to handle a face-to-face interaction.
- Does not require special equipment – as the teller may not have access to it, or it might be expensive to replicate in the branch network.
Once we have allocated a work item or task- for example, a simple change of a customer address process, all we need is:
- PC or mobile access
- Less than 5 minutes a case
Then we can simply add the branch staff into the OPX system as users, add their skills, and they are good to go.
Operationally, when a teller is not handling a face-to-face service request, OPX will provide them with the change of address case to handle and they simply carry out the work. But I hear you ask, what if a few seconds into the task, the teller is distracted by a customer approaching the counter? The teller simply pauses the work in OPX, handles the customer’s request, optionally recording the manual activity (which in OPX is a special type of pause event), and when customers are no longer queuing, the teller may simply go back to the paused work item and pick it up again.
What sort of impact can OPX have on your branch network?
While every case is different, in one OPX client we have seen around 40% of all back-office work distributed to the branch network over the past few years, making use of this latent capacity.
But what if the work is not simple and requires more complexity?
Well, we have a solution for that as well! In our other blog post, you will find out how OPX can increase skills capacity cheaply and efficiently so that you can free up your subject matter experts using the OPX Scriptflow module.