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At Your Service

By: Jackie Hudson

Burke & Herbert Bank is a 24-branch community bank that has been “at your service” in northern Virginia since 1852. Unlike many competitors in its market, the bank has actually benefited from the market’s uncertainty and consumer disillusionment from the last few years by attracting new customers with its unrelenting focus on service, while providing all the modern conveniences sought after by today’s technology-savvy consumer. Burke & Herbert Bank has experienced record earnings for the last three years. It accomplished a 20 percent growth in openings of personal checking accounts from 2009 to 2010 and anticipates another year of double-digit account growth in 2011.

Joe Collum, principal vice president and area manager for Burke & Herbert Bank’s branch banking, shares his perspective. “The bank attributes its success to offering a conscientious, personalized approach to customer service. This is in addition to providing modern, easy-to-use products and services that save customers time and money. When we have a conversation with a customer, we make sure they know we are genuinely interested in their needs and what we can do to help them.”

Modern Technologies Focus on Personalized Service

In the last few years, the bank has made a number of investments in technology to reinforce how easy it is to do business with them, and it also offers a personalized experience for its customers. In February of this year, Burke & Herbert Bank launched a new website with enhanced online banking and payments capabilities. Customers have the options of creating personalized home pages, “my views” and “my payments.” The bank is currently replacing all of its ATMs with best-in-class models that enable envelope-less deposits, check imaging on receipts and customization of the ATM experience. Customers can create a personal profile for their ATM experience one time, and those preferences will be reflected in all subsequent ATM transactions.

An investment in the behind-the-scenes infrastructure has also been completed. The new platform will give the bank a more reliable technology backbone, enabling Burke & Herbert Bank to provide even more customer-facing enhancements moving forward.

Branch Workforce Management “Right Sizes” Staff

Burke & Herbert Bank realized its method for determining branch staffing requirements was outdated and based more on intuition than fact. It also had the sense that its branches were overstaffed, but lacked the analytics to support smart decisioning. Instead of a trial-and-error exercise to find the right mix of staff, which could potentially diminish its high levels of customer service, the financial institution sought an automated solution to provide them with the data and analytics they lacked.

The bank chose Verint Systems’ Impact 360 for Retail Financial Services as a Managed Service, a workforce management solution designed specifically for the community bank branch environment. The solution enables banks to forecast transaction volumes and the recommended staffing requirements to meet each branch’s specific service-level goals. Using the forecasts, the solution then automatically generates a schedule for each branch manager. Managers can quickly and easily manage the scheduling process using the Internet.

Burke & Herbert Bank can now capture and report on customer service levels in the branches, compare existing staffing levels with forecasts, and make staffing adjustments based on fact versus intuition. With the managed service, Burke & Herbert Bank does not have to maintain the tool or allocate an analyst and IT resources to run the system. It also benefits from the experience and expertise of a dedicated branch workforce management analyst to run its branch forecasts, manage the quality control of its data and conduct “what if” scenarios on a quarterly basis.

Since implementing the tool, Burke & Herbert Bank has rebalanced staffing levels across its branches to match staff numbers and skills with customer arrivals. The bank has been able to reduce branch staff by 12 percent, equating to an annualized savings of $1 million, without any layoffs. All reductions were a result of attrition, with the latest staff reduction taken just recently, a year after the Impact 360 tool demonstrated that a particular branch was overstaffed by one. Making these changes over time, and through attrition only, has made the reductions appear seamless to the customers as well as the employees, avoiding the damaging effect to employee morale that comes with sudden job cuts.

An unexpected benefit of the tool has been increased employee engagement and reduced turnover. Employees experience excessive downtime when branches are overstaffed. With the branches “right staffed,” employees find it easier to stay interested and motivated. Looking ahead, the bank anticipates a reduction in turnover, as engaged employees are happier employees.

Terry Cole, senior vice president of products, marketing and sales at Burke & Herbert Bank, said that there is a flip side to using Impact 360. “As we continue to grow, Impact 360 will help us know when and how to add new staff to existing branches that are increasing their sales and customer base, as well as how to staff new de novo branches.” Burke & Herbert Bank has opened four new branches in the last two years.

Service is at the heart of Burke & Herbert Bank’s success. The bank is staunchly proud of its history as a neighborhood institution that offers courteous, knowledgeable, personalized service, with all the conveniences that make it easy for customers to do business with them. It continues to evaluate technologies and invest in its people — allowing it to focus on delivering the high caliber of service customers have come to rely on.

Jackie Hudson is director, retail banking practice, at Verint Systems. Contact Hudson at jackie.hudson(at)

Copyright (c) January 2012 by BankNews Media