The End of the Beginning: What’s Next in Migrating Transactions to the ATM

Transaction Migration Blog Part One

In our new series on migrating transactions to the ATM, we’ll explore a number of different perspectives, tools and incremental changes designed to help you get the results you’re looking for. Today, we’re focusing on the branch experience.

When you look around one of your branches, does it look the same as it did 10 or 15 years ago?

I doubt it.

As much as popular chatter suggests financial institutions (FIs) don’t always move quickly enough, the fact of the matter is that every organization is making continuous, incremental changes from year to year.

Now we’re seeing FIs in most parts of the world at a bit of a crossroads: They’re at the “end of the beginning,” if you will, of the transaction migration journey we’ve been on for the better part of a decade.

Most FIs have started to acquire some new technology, upgrade some back-end processes and even kick-start cultural changes around teller roles and responsibilities. However, the vast majority are not seeing the levels of customer adoption they had hoped for just yet.

How can organizations turn all this activity into a meaningful driver of real, network-wide transformation?

Transaction migration is a pretty simple concept:

  • Enhance the functionality of your ATM network.
  • Encourage consumers to conduct more transactions on a channel that costs much less (on average, $0.61 vs. $4 for a teller-conducted transaction[1]).
  • Free up tellers to enable better opportunities for relationship building and consumer retention.

And yet it’s simply not a case of “if you build it, they will come.” If only transaction migration were as easy as carving a baseball field out of a cornfield!

What we’re learning is that the “little things” matter and matter a lot.

Consider consumer awareness. If they don’t understand the technology, or worse, aren’t even aware of its existence, how will we get them to adopt this new technology?

Or employee engagement; it may (or may not) shock you to know that most branch employees don’t know how to use the technology and in most cases cannot adequately communicate the value to customers.

Think about your branch again …

  • Where is your staff?
  • How close are they to the front door?
  • Do they immediately greet customers as they enter your branch?
  • Or do they wait for customers to approach them?
  • How far into the branch to customers have to go?
  • Where is the technology?
  • How is it marketed?

We are realizing that the design of the branch actually creates the experience your consumers have when they enter.

Tech Front & Center

During a recent visit to New York City, I indulged in one of my hobbies that tends to come with this kind of job: I popped into a bank branch near Grand Central Station, just to see what they were up to. (I know I’m not the only one who does this for fun!)

This was a two-story branch, and the entire first floor was filled with self-service terminals. A couple employees were available to answer questions and educate consumers on the devices. If you wanted to actually conduct a transaction with a teller, you had to walk to the very back of the branch and go up a flight of stairs.

Not surprisingly, an employee told me that nearly 80% of the people who come to that branch never go upstairs. And you can bet the 20% who do actually do probably get a much more nuanced, attentive interaction with a universal banker.

Tech Awareness & Marketing

During a recent interaction with another FI, I discovered that their in-lobby terminal offered a much higher cash withdrawal limit than their drive-thru ATM. Pretty cool, right? Probably something that would drive many more customers to use the self-service devices instead of tellers. Except for the fact that the only way for consumers to find out about the high withdrawal limit in the first place is to read about it on the terminal screen itself.

Essentially, the only way to know about the higher limit is to be directly in front of the terminal. But how do they know to even go there in the first place?

We talked about ways to enhance awareness of this cool functionality, through additional signage throughout the branch, perhaps marketing on the screen at the drive-thru ATM, or even incenting employees on their advocacy for the feature.

Because the thing about this technology is that your employees want to know how it fits in to their daily life: What are the goals? How are they being measured when it comes to transaction migration? What’s in it for them?

It’s the question we all want the answer to, right? Consider building concrete, actionable, performance-driven goals for your employees that help drive them to drive low-value transactions to the ATM. 

Tech & the Curse of Activation Energy

There is a psychology term, borrowed from chemistry, which basically illuminates how easily we humans are deterred. Activation energy, in one very simple example, is the idea that just 20 seconds can make or break your willingness to do something. I.e. the less energy it takes to activate on something, the more likely you are to do it.

In your branches, are your tellers in positions to actually interact with your consumers? Are they right at the front door, ready to greet visitors, funnel them to the right location (be it a self-service terminal or a staffer), and educate them on their in-branch options?

Give any of us a chair, a teller line, a computer, an office, and we’ll likely use it. But in modern branches, relationship building should be fused with technological enablement. An open floor plan is not enough; put a tablet in a teller’s hand, anchor her at the front of the branch, and watch how her interactions with consumers start to drastically shift.

Each of these ideas, taken alone, are relatively manageable, roadmap-able refinements that can help you activate on your broader branch strategy. The fact of the matter is that if you want your staff to become advisors, if you want your consumers to use digital channels, if you want to reduce the size of your branches, you need to meaningfully migrate more transactions away from your teller line.

If you build it strategically, thoughtfully and in a consumer-driven way, they will come. They’ll migrate naturally because you built and supported the infrastructure in a way that makes self-service feel intuitive and easy. When it happens, will your organization be ready for the transformed banking experience that follows?

In our next post in the series, we’ll examine some key questions you should ask yourself and your organization as you determine next steps in your transaction migration journey. If you’re ready to get started, or need help continuing down the path, talk to us today. Let’s take a closer look at where you are, and where you want to be.