Lean banking: real life success stories

In a network of 1,000 bank branches, about a hundred are considered as “reference branches”: they have more than 9 employees and the branch manager is responsible for several satellite branches composed of 3 to 5 people. The director of this network wishes to deploy Lean in the reference branches in order to improve their performance on two aspects:

  • the satisfaction of customers coming to the agencies is too low
  • the volume of sales made by the advisors is insufficient.

The program starts with a pilot project, in the provinces, to evaluate the relevance of Lean management on both aspects. Once success is achieved, Lean is deployed as follows:

  • a pilot project in each of the 6 major regions in order for the sales manager to take ownership of the approach,
  • a 3-year regional deployment plan so that each “reference” branch manager acquires the new practices,
  • a subsequent coaching of the directors of these agencies so that they themselves disseminate the method in the small agencies they are in charge of.

The results of the Lean approach in bank branches

Lean results on customer satisfaction

Client satisfaction is measured on an ongoing basis as part of a national program. Each branch knows its overall performance as well as its local performance (at the counter, at the ATM, with an advisor).
During the project, employees are encouraged to better understand the reasons of customer dissatisfaction and then implement actions to fix them. Two major families stand out in the majority of the sites:

  • Customers say they have to talk to several people before they can find the right person to handle their request. They sometimes come out angry that they did not talk to anyone who was “competent”.
  • Clients say they waiting time is too long.

To improve customer satisfaction, employees will experiment with new queuing arrangements, rework signage and sometimes even create multi-purpose reception desks.

The results are not long in coming!
The waiting time before first contact is reduced from 25 to 12 minutes in two months and drops to 3 minutes after six months!
The customer satisfaction score went from 70/100 to 85/100 to 93/100 in six months.

The results of Lean on sales

Before launching any improvement action, team members identify what is holding back their sales. Several areas stand out, the most classic being :

  • a lack of sales time, often due to too much post-appointment work. Training actions are set up so that back office activities are better controlled and much faster.
  • an insufficient number of scheduled appointments and a lack of reactivity on customers who show up without an appointment (they are asked to come back). The sales people will change their point of view and set themselves the objective of having 4 to 5 appointments each per day. In the actions implemented, they often decide to really exploit the file of sales “opportunities” that marketing communicates to them.
  • an insufficient number of sales due to two distinct causes :
    • they too often make appointments with the same customers, who are already very well equipped,
    • they need several appointments to finalize certain sales.

That led them to change their selection criteria for the customers they call to organize their schedule. They became also more specific in the list of documents they asked their clients to provide or contracts to sign.

The results are spectacular:
In 2 months, sales work time has increased by 2 hours per person per day. The number of appointments per person per day has been multiplied by more than 2. The consequences on the net banking income (gnp: equivalent for the bank of the added value created by the activity) are immediately visible: +12% gnp in 1 year.
Finally, little by little, during the sales challenges, two groups of branches emerge:

  • those that have carried out their Lean project and are at the top of the rankings
  • the others, who are much further away and whose chances of winning are minimal.

One might say that none of these actions show real innovation and yet the results are there! What makes it work? The answer will be provided in another post.

Original post in French by Marie-Pia Ignace, translated with Deepl.

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