How to Improve Customer Experience at ATMs

Published August 4, 2020

How ATMs can provide a better customer experience

Your customer is on their cell phone, scrolling, swiping and tapping their way through different apps and seeing content that’s personal to them. It’s easy to go from one app to the next and they feel recognized with every swipe. Now imagine they’re walking up to your automated teller machine. Do they feel like they’ve just taken a step back in time?

Or are they expecting the same touchscreen experience they get when they’re on their phone? What would they prefer? What if their experience at the ATM not only allowed them to see account information but also an exciting new loan offer based on their interaction history? Is it modern, fast, and personal? Is it connected? That’s the kind of digital experiences consumers get in other industries and on other devices—and it’s what they want to see at the ATM, too.


The importance of a positive ATM customer experience

There’s no doubt that online and mobile banking are the wave of the banking and payment future, but that doesn’t mean consumers will ditch ATMs and branch visits. In fact, as banks redefine themselves to meet the demands of the digital age, they’ll need to extend that to the ATM channel. These physical banking touchpoints keep financial institutions connected to their customers, and they are still very much relevant—as a bridge between the physical and digital.

According to a 2019 JD Power study of all the delivery channels, only ATMs have increased in customer satisfaction scores. And there are still over one million bank branches and 3.2 million ATMs globally, with more than 50 percent of all ATMs estimated to be capable of accepting deposits by 2024 according to RBR Global ATM Market and Forecasts.

Since people now have so many ways to pay, ease of use and convenience are expected no matter how they interact, and that goes for the ATM channel as well. ATMs often function as the main customer-facing element of a financial institution, particularly outside of traditional opening hours, so reliability and efficiency are key factors, too. That means modern ATM technology and simple ATM management are crucial for any financial institution looking to deliver that easy, intuitive customer experience while improving operational efficiency.

Imagine one of your customers, like a mother who’s had a long day at work when her daughter reminds her that she needs cash for something in the morning—which the mother doesn’t have. Your branch closed hours ago, but fortunately she can visit your bank’s ATM. With the right ATM technology and software, she not only can drive up and grab the cash, but she can also pull up her banking app on her mobile device and pre-stage the transaction so that it’s faster and easier when she gets there. If she can do that as quickly and conveniently, tomorrow might not be as long of a day for her and her daughter won’t miss out on what she needed.  

In fact, modern ATMs are more and more becoming a “branch in a box,” providing a way to save your customers time by empowering them to handle 90 percent or more of routine banking transactions via self-service, also saving time and money for your financial institution. 

Digital differentiators: 3 features every modern ATM should offer

Leading banks know that providing exceptional customer experiences in their ATM channel is a competitive advantage; it’s just as important as the customer experience in their branches. To get the experience right, there are three key things that every modern ATM should offer:

1. An intuitive interface. Consumer electronics, such as smartphones, tablets and wearables, have long shaped technology, making it simple for users to navigate. Your customers expect an ATM to provide a similar experience, which means it must be more than just a simple display with a few buttons.

Large, full-color touchscreens are just the beginning—they also should offer swipe and pinch-to-zoom functionality to give consumers a familiar experience. That way your customers can effortlessly navigate their way through a much wider range of transactions, enabling you to offer a complete self-service portal in every ATM. Learn how one of the largest ATM networks in the UK was able to reduce costs, increase control of their network and ultimately drive customer loyalty, all through one transaction processing system. 

2. Video capabilities. Your customers are increasingly familiar with self-service solutions for everyday transactions. But when it comes to more complex transactions, many still want a guide to assist them; including two-way video banking capabilities at the ATM can instantly bridge that gap. Video capabilities through Interactive Teller Machines will become increasingly important as financial institutions undergo branch transformations that emphasize self-service for day-to-day transactions, and it can provide that personal touch for customers who need assistance.

3. Mobile interoperability. Consumers use mobile devices for everything they do and that includes interacting with an ATM. For example, near field communication capabilities allows customers to confirm their identity via their phone so they can pre-stage the transaction and withdraw money without using a card, and they can deposit cash or checks using self-service at a time and location that’s convenient to them. And because more of your customers are embracing their digital wallet (Apple Pay, Android Pay and much more) and leaving their physical wallet at home, financial institutions need to respond to these changing habits and offer more ways to connect their phone at the ATM.   

Related: BankPlus uses at-home video tellers to keep customers connected—even during a crisis. Read more.

Avoiding empty machines

One of the last things you want is for your ATM to run out of cash. Imagine that mother needing to get cash for her daughter late at night, and already exhausted. Fortunately, one of your ATMs is close to where she lives, but what if she gets there and it’s empty? What she needed and expected wouldn’t be possible and she’d either have to go find another ATM or disappoint her daughter. An experience like that could make her decide to switch banks.

So, developing and implementing a solid plan to ensure your customers always have access to the cash they need at your ATM is a critical part of improving your customer experience. To reduce the risk of cash outages, one strategy every financial institution should use is demand forecasting. Demand forecasting is simple and relies on a combination of seasonal ATM usage statistics, average footfall around your ATMs and competitor activity to predict the demand for cash withdrawals. It’s also important to keep in mind other factors, such as the pandemic, local events and unusual weather patterns, that could result in increased ATM usage as more people visit your financial institution’s ATM. 

Another thing to consider are cash management solutions. They can be highly effective for financial institutions that want to make sure they have the right amount of cash in branches and across their ATM network, while reducing cash handling and cash-in-transit costs. And optimization doesn’t stop at the ATM network: real savings come when the entire cash distribution chain, ATM, recycler, branch, commercial customers and more are taken into consideration.

Added functionality and software

There’s a reason why we all have our phones with us at all times: it’s equipped to give us the ability to do pretty much anything thing we need to do—anytime, anywhere. And when people visit your ATM, they'll expect some of the same features and functions as their phones...and more. That means investing in innovative ATM technology to deliver on that expectation.

As mentioned earlier, with the rise of the mobile wallet, some financial institutions are introducing the cardless ATM, or those that are accessible without using an ATM card. These cardless ATMs can offer quick, contactless tap-and-go transactions or enable transactions where consumers can start an ATM transaction on their smartphone, pre-staging the transaction and collecting the cash from any of your bank’s ATMs within 24 hours. Giving them the ability use their mobile wallet at your ATMs delivers the ease and convenience they’ve come to expect and will help increase ATM usage and drive loyalty so they keep coming back to yours versus a competitor’s.

One way that financial institutions are keeping up with changing expectations like these is by following the guidelines of that ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), which represents the entire global ATM industry. ATMIA keeps their network informed with industry news and developments, helps improve operational efficiency, provides education and best practices. ATMIA continues to innovate and has partnered with global technology providers like NCR to deliver a new framework for next-generation ATMs, which includes the following (and much more):

  • Providing on-demand services
  • Enabling mobile pre-staged transactions, activated or managed by a range of digital services with other delivery channels
  • Aligning with personal technologies and lifestyle
  • Enabling personalized communications (greetings, dialogue and individual customer value)
  • Providing sales opportunities and responding to customer inquiries
  • Facilitating a friendly and seamless audio or video assistance and service

The best experience is a secure experience

Because each ATM operates as part of a network, financial institutions should make sure they have proper protections and systems in place to ensure the security of their sensitive customer data. By deploying logical security solutions, your bank can maximize its protection against criminals who try to use electronic devices and malware to take control of ATMs. It's vital to regularly update ATM software to combat new and evolving threats, and implement the latest software updates and patches as soon as they are available. Remote software distribution services can provide a cost-effective and efficient way of ensuring your ATM network never misses an update.

The ATM of tomorrow will need to include more security features and interactive functions, such as biometric authentication, along with the ability to offer new kinds of secure, personal transactions, such as purchasing event tickets or even handling cryptocurrency transactions. With digital payments gaining momentum, more customers will want the ability to make cash withdrawals from their cryptocurrency account. The execution can be as easy as any other transaction handled at the ATM, if your bank has an agile platform to bring new innovations to market quickly.

Related: Are your ATMs NextGen ready? Explore the new architecture you need to make your ATM channel as agile as your digital channels. Read the white paper here

Additional tips for improving customer experience at the ATM

Think of the display as a digital billboard. Your ATM can serve as one of your most powerful tools when it comes to delivering brand awareness and improving brand affinity. With an intuitive, personalized experience similar to how your customers navigate on their mobile phone, this space gives you the opportunity to showcase your modern, digital brand, which says a lot about your bank. When you deliver an innovative, fresh digital experience, your customers know you understand their wants and that you’re able to meet them.

Promote personalized offers and cross-selling opportunities. It’s critical to capture information about how and when your customers use your ATM. Because you can use that data to present personal offers, like an increase in their cash withdrawal limit for future transactions, or an invitation to apply for a new loan offer or new savings account.

Financial institutions that invest in a more agile ATM architecture will be able to adapt to new trends and market demands, putting them in a strong position to earn customer loyalty and additional revenue.

Improving your ATM customer experience can do wonders for your business

As a physical touchpoint, ATMs will play a huge role in delivering better customer service and even change the way consumers view financial service. Providing capabilities and opportunities that help personalize and enrich customer interactions are at the center of ATM transformation—which is pivotal for branch transformation. With 90 billion cash withdrawals handled at ATMs annually and an estimated 25 billion cash or check deposit transactions, ATM usage trends confirm that the ATM is an important part of your customer’s financial lives.

As financial institutions continue to transform to meet growing payment trends and consumer demands, ATMs will offer more personalized and flexible customer experiences for both retail and business banking. By extending the range of services ATMs can provide from mere cash dispense and deposit to bill payment, money transfers and interactive teller interactions and so much more, financial institutions can differentiate themselves in a fiercely competitive market and deliver the modern, flexible and personalized experience their customers crave.

And with innovative ATM technology that delivers a better banking experience along with greater operational efficiency, it's easier than ever to transform self-service into a bridge that connects the bank branch to your digital channels, from mobile banking to online banking and beyond.

More ATM innovation. Less day-to-day burden.

See how ATM as a Service helps simplify and modernize your channel.

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