When organisations need to contain costs and drive efficiency, the ‘easy’ thing to do is to cut costs (usually staff) and focus on core activities – tactical moves which don’t solve the underlying problems and which perpetuate frequent and inefficient swings between growth and containment. All this despite widely spouted corporate rhetoric about attracting and developing the best people, in building a sustainable business model, and investing in the local community.
There is another way…
With some creative thinking and the courage and leadership to focus on something other than the same old tactical “solutions”, organisations can utilise their existing resources more effectively and build more resilience into their business models.
For example, financial services organisations, retail banks and building societies in particular, have large real estate portfolios. That real estate is a substantial cost to the business but is under-utilised: most branch offices are empty 16 hours a day with an average staff complement of c. 4 full time staff and a couple of part-time staff. In branch offices, training centres and even head offices, space, equipment and systems lie idle for 2/3 of every working week while the business pays for the estate 100% of the time.
Those same facilities could be used in a more effective way – transaction processing or customer service teams could use the telephony and technology to ensure a more efficient operational model; clear customer complaint backlogs; conduct customer satisfaction surveys; lengthen the operating hours of customer helplines; conduct QA and testing of proposed process or technology change – the possibilities are endless. The infrastructure is there, ready and waiting.
This is a ‘win win win’ situation: for the organisation it means improved utilisation of their real estate and facilities; increased transaction processing power, and an improved customer service model, without extending branch opening hours or their property footprint. In addition, the organisation would be able to draw on a wider resource pool, attracting employees who for a variety of reasons have difficulty in working during conventional office hours. For customers it means a better customer service experience and improved access to their account information; for employees it offers the ability to work more flexibly to suit personal circumstances.
All it takes is some creative thinking, courage to try something new and the leadership to drive the change.
Article by Jocelyn Matthews – Blue Alumni