The Final Frontier: Exploring Use Cases for the Cashless Branch

The Final Frontier: Exploring Use Cases for the Cashless Branch

If your tellers showed up to work tomorrow and you told them they wouldn’t be handling cash anymore, how would they react? Would they be unsure of what to do next? Or would they be ready to take on new roles and different responsibilities?

The fact is, branch employees can be capable of so much more – we just need to prepare and empower them.

Sitting underneath all of our noses is this basic reality: For many banking activities, consumers are increasingly comfortable with – and often even prefer – self-service banking options. That includes mobile and online banking as well as ATM transactions. All of those options cost your organization just pennies on the dollar compared to conducting the same transaction with a teller.

Consumers like it, it’s cheaper for you … but what happens to your branch employees now?

There’s a new role for those employees to play, a more vital role that can ensure your institution’s success in an increasingly digital era. As empowered universal bankers with different responsibilities and incentives, they become your brand’s ambassadors – the frontline touchpoint in the quest to turn consumers into lifelong banking partners.  In this new environment, tellers can be completely decoupled from actual cash handling. Self-service terminals and kiosks with expanded capabilities can take on the role they were named for: they become true automated teller machines.

So you expand your branch’s self-service options … but what exactly will those universal bankers do?

They’ll advise, instruct, educate and ultimately sell more of your products and services.

While it may seem counterintuitive that an environment with more self-service options could actually increase engagement between your consumers and employees, that’s just what can happen in a so-called “cashless” branch.

Cashless branches are not an either/or proposition. In the right use case, they can offer the best of both worlds: digitally-driven solutions with a strong consumer-experience component baked into the infrastructure.

There are some common reasons why your organization may be considering this type of branch: they require much less square footage, they feature lower operating costs and less risk because employees are not handling cash, and there’s virtually no need for vaults, safes or teller drawers. But that only scratches the surface of the possibilities.

Here are five more benefits of a cashless branch:

  1. They differentiate your brand and garner positive attention.

Offering a new, unique branch model can attract attention (get that press release ready!) and potentially new sales, especially in a new market. Pushing the envelope – even if it’s just at one marquee branch – helps differentiate you from your competition. You’re showcasing your brand’s versatility and desire to continuously improve the consumer experience. Plus, it underpins your industry and thought leadership in the areas of innovation and transformation.

  1. You can leverage the lower cost of a cashless branch to expand affordably into new markets.

A cashless branch may only be 1,000-2,000 square feet – much smaller than a traditional branch. Take advantage of the savings by placing your cashless branch in a brand new, highly targeted area like a shopping center or robust city center where square footage is at a premium.

These high-traffic locations may have been out of reach in your strategic roadmap, but expanding into them enables you to test the viability of a new area with a lower cost investment. You’ll be reaching consumers that may be more receptive to a self-service-style branch, and may have never considered your brand before.

Remember, a new market provides an excellent opportunity to introduce new concepts without the transition pains of enticing current consumers to use new technology or change their regular branch banking habits.

  1. They offer a way to try out future technology in a contained space that enables consumer testing and feedback.

A cashless branch can be a living lab for your organization’s future strategies. It’s a place to pilot new concepts to aggressively pursue the branch experiences to come in a few years’ time. You surely have lots of new technology you’d love to test and learn from in a real-life environment, but if you’re a regional or community bank, you may not have the resources for a corporate lab or testing facility. A cashless branch, by its very nature, requires a certain level of advanced technology, and often you may find your vendor partners are very interested in helping provide new concepts to these types of branches.

In fact, a cashless branch can offer you the opportunity to compare and test new technology from different vendors side by side. But it’s not just new tech that you can test – new processes and new roles will also be tested in this new type of branch. In an environment no longer focused on manually processing transactions, you can look instead at active engagement processes and the various nuances of a universal staffing model. And you’ll be getting real-life consumer feedback on every square inch of it. We’ve found that when consumers are told they’re a part of a new, experimental branch experience, and their feedback is valued, they’re more likely to embrace the new concepts.

  1. You can enable your highly skilled employees to focus on what they do best.

Without being bogged down by transaction processing and cash handling, you can focus your attention on hiring and training employees so they have the necessary skill set anchored on driving sales and offering premium service. You can actually use the cashless branch as an incentive for your employees: drive excitement throughout your network by hand-picking the top performers – and those with great potential and passion – to work in the new branch.

Your employees will need more and different training, there is no doubt about it. They’ve got to be experts on every piece of technology in the branch. They’ve got to be enabled and empowered to focus on sales, education and advisory services. They’ve got to be masters of client engagement and lobby management – they won’t be sitting behind a teller line, they’ll be roving around the branch with tablets in hand, after all. So be prepared to provide your employees with the resources they need to succeed. And make sure it starts at the top: aggressively push for the behaviors you want to see in the branch by properly incentivizing your employees.

  1. They may even drive a breakthrough on the self-service front for your entire organization.

You’ve created a fully automated, self-service system, yet continued to staff it. In one way, you’re “forcing” consumers down a potentially new and intimidating path by eliminating the usual teller option, but in another way, you’re offering them more useful person-to-person interactions than they may be used to having at a bank branch, because the context of the encounter is completely different.

In a cashless branch, the traditional branch experience is augmented in really interesting ways: Perhaps you integrate self-service devices with a tablet or staff workstation so employees can approve large transactions in real time, or remove holds on the fly. You may offer videoconferencing booths or stations that provide remote assistance to enable your micro branch to handle specialized activities through a connection with a centralized call center. And certainly, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to test out mobile-enabled and cardless transactions.

Simultaneously, you’ll be pushing your staff to look for new ways to engage and assist consumers throughout their visit, and use those engagements as jumping-off points for additional sales opportunities. You could even incorporate your latest CRM software into their tablets so they are best equipped to provide the latest in offers. The lessons learned and increased ROI charted in this new branch environment can have a serious trickle-down effect on the rest of your branch network.

More intuitive self-service devices, paired with empowered brand ambassadors, can bridge the physical-digital divide to create a true omnichannel experience for your consumers. A cashless branch may just be the perfect hybrid of digital influence and human interaction – and we can help you build a roadmap to success. Let’s talk about how a cashless branch could fit into your strategic initiatives.