Customer Service Staffing
South Carolina National Bank

The South Carolina National Bank, before being merged to form a part of Wachovia Bank in May of 1994, was among the four largest banks in South Carolina. In 1991, the determination was made to consolidate customer service operations in Columbia, SC. As a result of that decision IMS Quantum (then Integrated Management Systems, Inc.) was engaged to build an Integrated Decision Model to determine the level of staffing necessary to handle the volume of calls anticipated. This was a small project designed to give insight into the central issues at stake and an order of magnitude estimate of staffing requirements. A larger study had already been done to gather basic information.

The model considered the resources necessary to implement the new system, the factors that influenced the amount of time each customer service representative was available for answering service calls, the policies that constrained the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation, and the costs associated with the implementation. Relationships between call frequency, average time of each call and waiting time were integrated into the model. Scenarios were developed that demonstrated the resources necessary to staff the center as a function of customer wait time. The most important aspect of the model was the clear demonstration of the tradeoffs between customer satisfaction and operational costs. The model offered an opportunity to integrate subjective measures of customer satisfaction into a purely analytical approach.

This process of developing a decision model in close collaboration with the responsible managers allowed management to see clearly the tradeoffs that were operative and to develop a set of measures to assess performance after the system was activated. The Integrated Decision Model could have easily been turned into an Integrated Planning Model for the development of budgets and plans. Such a process would have shown how the improvement of critical performance measures could lead to increased effectiveness and efficiency, leading ultimately to higher revenues and lower costs.

IMS Quantum believes that this marriage of subjective and quantitative aspects of the banking business can be a fruitful approach throughout an organization, ultimately leading to a fully integrated planning and management system.

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