This article first appeared in the
Autumn 2017 issue of The Record.
The excess queue procedure at The Co-operative Bank is carried out daily to accept, reject and return direct debits, cheques and standing orders as a result of the customer having insufficient funds to meet the payments. Overnight BACS processing results in a daily ‘queue’ of customers with payments due to leave their accounts and with insufficient funds to meet these payments. A nine-strong team in the bank would have the daily responsibility of manually reviewing the 2,500 or so higher risk accounts. They would then make a decision to either return or process the payments depending on the account profile of each customer.
Recognising the need to automate the procedure, the bank turned to Microsoft partner Blue Prism for help. Blue Prism implemented its operational agility software, which enables non-technical users to integrate and orchestrate systems and processes non-invasively and without change to the bank’s core systems.
The automation of the entire procedure means that the bank now has a ‘virtual team’ of 20 people completing the workload by 11am each day instead of a team of employees working to meet a 3pm daily processing deadline.
The bank has seen a number of benefits as a result of automating the excess queue procedure. Employees previously engaged in manual processing have been released to work on pro-active customer account management. Meanwhile, outbound customer calls can now be made every day of the week where previously they were confined to Saturday when there was no activity required on the excess queue.
“With more staff now working on outbound customer calls, we are able to quickly identify customers in financial difficulty and ¬pro-actively call them to discuss their accounts, rather than reacting too late, enhancing our overall customer service,” explains Joanne Masters, the bank’s business systems manager.
Furthermore, the rules-based Blue Prism process ensures that the excess queue procedure is followed in exactly the same way every time, ensuring that the bank is able to meet its FSA obligations.
Significant time savings have also been realised. Prior to automation, eleven employees would work from 7.30am to clear the queue yet on high volume days struggled to meet the daily 3pm deadline for payment processing. With 80% of the process already automated, nine team members have been moved across to customer facing.
“We are delighted that The Co-operative Bank is realising such demonstrable value from implementing Blue Prism software,” says Alastair Bathgate, Blue Prism’s CEO. “The reduction in processing costs and the multiple benefits being realised are substantial and we look forward to continuing working with the team on new challenges.”
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