With its main office located in Auburndale, Wisconsin, Pioneer Bank has established a long history of developing the wealth and well-being of its employees, customers, shareholders, and communities. The locally owned community bank was first incorporated as a state banking association in 1910. Now with seven locations across central Wisconsin, the bank’s assets total $135 million.
Efficiency and customer service are two daily goals that are common at most banks. So when Pioneer Bank saw that opening standard personal checking accounts for new customers was taking more than 45 minutes each time—and that was without discussing additional features like debit cards and online checking or doing cross-selling of any kind—the organization recognized an improvement opportunity. Clearly the sign-up process was too laborious and time intensive, and Wipfli was engaged to help lead the effort to improve the service experience.
Considering and applying the lessons of “lean,” Wipfli performed a discovery event focused on the new customer experience. The firm gathered a team of eight Pioneer Bank employees, each critical to any one part of the process, including personal bankers as well as staff from IT, compliance, and account processing. Then Wipfli guided the team in generating ideas and facilitating self-discovery and ownership of the challenge.
The discovery event covered two six-hour days of Wipfli being entrenched with the team. The first was spent in a deep dive, walking through the new customer checking account process, examining the tools and checklists used, and observing the flow of information and materials required. Day two involved facilitating the team as it worked to identify areas of constraint and brainstorm opportunities for improvement. As a result, a total of 86 discoveries—or potential opportunities for improvement—were made. Wipfli and the Pioneer team then reported their valuable findings to the bank’s executive management.
The biggest benefit is that solutions were uncovered by the bank’s own employees. The Pioneer team then took it upon themselves to test out just one of the 86 improvement ideas. In doing so, they were able to cut the new customer account experience from 45 minutes to 23—nearly in half. This time savings reflects better customer service overall and gives the bank’s personal bankers the ability to foster greater customer satisfaction right from the beginning. They also have more time to cross-sell other potentially relevant products to the bank’s new customers.
Most important, Pioneer Bank employees have been empowered to work collectively in creating new solutions to “how we’ve always done it” problems. The event created an atmosphere that allows the bank’s team to help solve the organization’s own challenges—solutions that work for Pioneer Bank and are not one-size-fits-all. Pioneer Bank team members have a stronger sense of personal ownership in problem solving and in the bank becoming more lean and efficient in the future.