Could Interactive Kiosks Replace Retail Bank Tellers?
The fundamental challenge facing any services-oriented business today is the sheer number of people required to do the selling and provide the customer support required to effectively deliver services. Nowhere is that more evident than in retail banking.
Just about every major branch of a retail bank these days is staffed with people to provide advice about financial services products. While the automated teller machine (ATM) has replaced the need for each bank branch to staff as many tellers as they once did, the cost of providing the staff needed to sell and support financial services products remains high.
Working to reduce those costs while providing customers with more consistent service, retail banks are looking to transform the branch experience with technology. In this regard, the industry is joining a far larger trend: analyst firms project that the customer experience management market will be worth $8.39 billion by 2019.
Instead of installing ATMs capable of only processing transactions, an increasing number of retail banks are tapping into ATMS with far more advanced functionality, including videoconferencing that connects customers with financial services experts working out of the bank’s central headquarters.
NCR, one of the primary manufacturers of ATMs, has developed much of the core technology that will drive this new customer experience in retail banking. NCR is working with a number of banking customers, including Wells Fargo, Bank of Montreal, First Hawaiian Bank, Akbank, Reliance Bank and Glenview State Bank to deploy NCR APTRA Interactive Teller kiosks.
The ultimate goals is to significantly shrink the physical size of the retail bank branch. “It’s all about branch transformation to provide a better customer experience,” said Jed Taylor general manager of NCR’s Interactive Services business. “It’s about building the branch of the future.”
But why are banks just now expanding the use of videoconferencing, a technology that has been around for decades?
Taylor attributes it to improved video compression, better network infrastructure and lower prices that make the use of videoconferencing more feasible in more situations. “The cost of delivering these services is now significantly less,” Taylor says. “In terms of staffing, this allows the bank to be more flexible.”
While the quality of the video being provided won’t reach high-definition quality right out of the gate, Taylor envisions a retail banking experience that is similar to what customers now see in some retail stores. Kiosks will be able to handle a much broader array of complex transactions, while bank associates armed with tablets will come out from behind their desks to provide assistance whenever needed. Videoconferencing systems will then allow customers to engage remotely with the bank’s most knowledgeable financial services advisers for longer periods of time during the day because no adviser will be tied to any one branch.
Of course, the degree to which videoconferencing will become a core component of the pantheon of technologies used to provide that transformational customer experience remains to be seen. But when you get right down to creating a quality customer experience, there’s no substitute for an encouraging word or a warm smile–whether it comes in person or via videoconferencing.