For retail banks, the continuing rise in cash volumes brings with it the challenge of ensuring it is handled efficiently and securely. Inefficient cash management can be extremely expensive. One key technology – self-service – is being increasingly used to improve operations.
Cash is, and always will be, a key component for banks, with 80-90%1 of customers visiting a bank branch to carry out a cash transaction. However, without appropriate levels of automation, cash transactions can be both expensive and time -consuming to handle, resulting in an inevitable build-up of queues in the branch and a less than welcoming environment for customers. Therefore, banks are increasingly considering solutions that will optimise cash management and free up resources and tellers in order to improve customer service, allow branch staff to concentrate on more complex transactions and, ultimately, reduce operations costs.
Consumers like choice
While there is no doubt that automation is an essential part of branch operations, where and how to automate is a fine balancing act. For many customers, self-service technology such as ATMs, provides a convenient solution to cash withdrawals and deposits, whilst for the bank transaction speeds are faster and less cash is handled by the teller. Also, cCash recycling can also reduce the need for cash in transit (CIT) companies to restock ATMs, as well as reducing in-branch cash volumes and staff trips to central vaults.
However, while many banks are using self-service technology to address consumer demands for convenience (and as a low-cost way of dealing with simple transactions), it is vital that they don’t rely on that channel alone. Essentially, people like to interact with other people, not just a machine. ATMs alone may not offer present a welcoming and customer friendly image for a bank and may alienate some customer groups altogether.
Consumers like choice. If a bank is truly dedicated to creating the ultimate in-branch experience for their customers, they need to offer self-service technology as part of a wider mix; for example, complementing teller automation systems.
Finding the Balance
Maintaining the correct balance of automation in the branch is vital. A bank doesn’t want teller time to be taken up with processing numerous low value one-off cash deposits when their time could be better spent giving face-to-face advice to a customer who wishes to buy a high-value product. Equally, banks don’t want their customers using the ATM to deposit a large volume of cash and then going to the bank across the street to talk about a loan. Banks need to ensure that the right customers and their transactions are directed to the right channel within the branch.
If directed to the self-service zone to perform a transaction, customers expect automated deposit machines to have the same up time as normal ATMs, therefore banks need to ensure that only simple and straightforward transactions are carried out via self-service. Banks also need to facilitate customer adoption of any new self-service technology. Many banks have deployed staff into the ATM lobby to assist people with using self-service machines; the same staff can also take this opportunity to engage with customers and make the interaction more beneficial for the customer and for the bank. Fernando Chorão, Head of the Self-banking and Payments Unit, said: “The key is to achieve the correct balance of cash management solutions to efficiently handle cash transactions whilst providing a seamless, efficient and cost-effective choice for customers."