How banking tech messes with your mind

How banking tech messes with your mind.

The financial services industry has discovered that introducing self-service technology in bank branches can not only cut waiting times, it can actually alter consumers' perceptions for the better.

US banking group First Citizens Bank has implemented self-service "intelligent" kiosks from vendor NCR in two of its branches and plans to deploy them across 40 before the end of next year.

The machines allow consumers to start a number of typical banking tasks, such as cheque or cash deposit, which are then validated by a member of banking staff once complete -- allowing tellers to deal with more customers and speeding up the average waiting time.

Doug Sprecher, senior VP of branch channel administration at First Citizens Bank, said today the bank has discovered that when a customer is forced to queue, they perceive their actual waiting time to be 20 to 50 percent more than it actually is. For those using self-service technology, perceived wait times are 20 to 30 percent less than the actual time they spend in the queue.

Branches with self-service technologies can also accommodate 20 percent more transactions without having to increase the number of tellers they employ, Sprecher said. First Citizens already has 40 percent of possible transactions that can be carried out through their self-service kiosks going through the machines and expects to see ROI within 28 months.

The decision to move to self-service was prompted by the bank's desire to bolster customer service. "Customer experience used to be about having a nice building and having friendly people and that's not enough. ... We've tried to migrate customers [to other banking channels] and they won't go, so, we know they're going to come in to the branch and it's now about how can we make it better?" Sprecher said.

The bank was aware that some customers may potentially be put off from using the technology due to its unfamiliarity and employed "greeters" to encourage people with suitable transactions to leave the queue and use one of the self-service machines, as well as help users with any difficulties.

"We're not pushy about it, if someone doesn't want to go [to the self-service kiosk], we invite them to step into the queue for a teller," Sprecher said. He added that the company was initially sceptical about introducing the technology to branches with heavy commercial traffic but now believes such areas will benefit from having retail customers freed from the queues that commercial customers can generate due to their cash-heavy transactions.

Nationwide, a UK building society with over 11 million customers, has also deployed self service technology to cut queues. In future, the organisation hopes to deploy more CRM and personalisation around the kiosks, which can display advertising during "idle" moments in transactions.

"We'd like to have pre-scored products, like loans or overdrafts that are already offered," Jason Cockrem, service development manager for Nationwide, said. "You know when the transaction is being carried out that someone is going overdrawn and then they could be presented with an overdraft -- the timing couldn't be better."

A spokesperson for NCR, the company which provides the machines used by both First Citizens and Nationwide, said the company is in talks with financial institutions in this country and expects to launch a pilot in Australia within the next couple of months.