Bank Queuing Problems Solved by Open Innovation

Published Mar-31-10

Working with external knowledge brokers helped a UK-based commercial bank solve one of its customers' biggest gripes – long queues.

A Commercial Bank in the United Kingdom, United Kingdom

The Story:

Bank Queuing Problems Solved by Open Innovation With an ever changing marketplace demanding better services and products innovation is key. The walls between companies and consumers are disappearing as boardrooms across the world recognize the importance of open innovation in bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives to their thinking.

Not only is open innovation transforming the ways global companies develop products but it is also being applied to core business processes.

Open Innovation Knowledge Brokers

One of the main drivers of this approach is the use of knowledge brokers who employ powerful web-based technologies to plug into networks of potential solvers from a variety of industries and disciplines all over the world.

Just about any activity a company undertakes from payroll to product development, managing supply chains to setting strategy can benefit from open innovation. It is much more than an extension of the R&D department.

Banking Problems

In common with many banks around the world a United Kingdom commercial bank was having problems with queues. Customers were complaining in large numbers about the long lines and the amount of time it was taking to be attended to.

Sourcing External Ideas

To solve this problem the bank sourced ideas from a number of different industries it previously had no dealings with. They were only approached because it was switched onto open innovation.

Potential solutions came from providers that included a Disney theme park manager, a traffic-circulation planning expert and a manager who worked for the supermarket giant Tesco.

The clear advantage for the bank was that in a short space of time it had a range of new ideas about how to deal with the problem. And it set about incorporating elements from the best ones.

From the Disney manager it adopted a ticketing option based on the FASTPASS system used in Disney theme parks which is designed to shorten waiting times. It effectively saves a place in a line by offering customers the chance to schedule their ride for a later time, allowing them to continue to explore other attractions and amusements. By working with the Disney manager the bank was also given an insight into the full dread that customers experience when they see the extent of a queue. So the bank changed the layout of teller windows in its branches opting for a circular arrangement ensuring that customers are less able to see how long the queue is.

The bank also created a customized system based on Tesco's “dynamic queuing” approach. When lines of customers reach a certain threshold back-office staffers substitute for tellers.

Global Resource for Better Solutions

The bank’s experience neatly demonstrates how the best ideas can come from a number of different sources. By tapping into this global resource it was able to design new queuing processes in a much shorter time frame than if it had attempted to come up with the solution on its own.

Overcoming Internal Bias

By going outside their own walls, companies are finding that open innovation can provide them with faster and better fixes to a host of strategic, procedural or operational problems. To do this they sometimes have to overcome strong internal bias, principally the desire to devise their own solutions. This internally-focused way of thinking though is beginning to look dated.

An expanding list of companies is finding that a combination of external brainpower and internal savvy is leading to a plethora of breakthrough solutions. For them open innovation is vital tool that enhances their abilities to adapt and innovate.

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