There’s no denying it: Self-service solutions make up a large part of the future of banking. But whether they’re big or small, local or nationwide, banks and credit unions that implement smart self-service tools can become industry leaders in their customer’s and member’s eyes.
In this piece, we take a closer look at the epicenter of banking self-service: the kiosk.
The State of Bank Branches
The future of the bank branch is always top-of-mind in our industry, so keeping a finger on the pulse helps us track trends and tailor our services accordingly. There’s a multi-faceted challenge that’s occupied banks and credit unions over the past decade or so, and we believe self-service tools like kiosks can help.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, banks and credit unions have steadily cut costs by reducing their physical branch locations as more customers and members migrate to online banking. In 2020 alone, over 3,324 branches closed — but what often goes unmentioned is the 1,040 new branches that opened in the same span. This suggests that the branch is still at the core of retail banking.
According to oft-cited research from CACI, the typical banking customer visited a physical branch seven times in 2017; by 2022, the number of visits is projected to drop to four. Currently, over 70% of consumers say they prefer engaging with their bank or credit union through mobile channels for routine type transactions. However, many people still prefer to visit a physical branch to open an account, navigate complex transactions, or lodge complaints.
The challenge for banks and credit unions is to proactively promote personalized, expert-driven services available at their branch locations, rather than allowing branches to become glorified tech support or customer complaint hubs.
Adding to the physical branch exodus is the digital transformation of finance. Though they are sometimes slow to adopt new tech, banks and credit unions that are making a concerted effort to digitize often unintentionally neglect their in-person experiences.
With digital self-service tools designed to cover 95% of routine transactions, banks and credit unions need to walk a fine line between empowering their customers and members and pushing them out the door entirely.
Fortunately, because of this digital wave, consumers have been trained to use simple, intuitive, and full-service digital tools with minimal provider intervention. Banks and credit unions that adopt new technologies can be confident that there won’t be much of a learning curve for the digital natives who use their services. However, digital users have come to expect their in-person customer service experiences to be just as fast, convenient, and hassle-free.
Financial institutions (FIs) have a massive opportunity to integrate new products and technologies that streamline the customer experience and free up staff to deliver more complex, personalized financial assistance. Digital tools like kiosks and apps do not need to take the place of human capital; rather, they can help maximize your in-house talent and improve your customers’ overall experience of your brand.
Great banking relies on great relationships, and will continue to do so long into the future. Looking ahead, the role of the human banker is going to become a little more personal, a lot less transactional, and much more intrinsic to a positive banking experience. Integrating self-service tools, both onsite and off, will be the most valuable step in maximizing your in-house talent and reaching customers when and where they need your services most.
Banking Kiosk Solutions
Since the introduction of the ATM, self-service has been an intrinsic part of retail banking. If today’s FI customers and members are increasingly relying on self-service options to complete their withdrawals and deposits, it stands to reason these solutions should address most (if not all) routine transactional needs. That way, bank and credit union staff can remain available to provide customers and members more complex, personalized assistance.
Self-service kiosks and virtual tellers are two solutions that can meet evolving customer needs, help FIs cut costs, and reduce their physical footprint.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, banks and credit unions were discouraging customers and members from visiting their physical branches; some went so far as to charge fees for in-person transactions. While slower lobby traffic means fewer tellers, this puts FIs in a compromising position: When customers increasingly rely on a single expert staff member for more complicated financial services, that staff member can quickly become overwhelmed, and customers become fed up with waiting their turn.
While slower lobby traffic means fewer tellers, this puts FIs in a compromising position: When customers increasingly rely on a single expert staff member for more complicated financial services, that staff member can quickly become overwhelmed, and customers become fed up with waiting their turn.
With self-service kiosks, tablets, or touch tables installed onsite or offsite, customers can complete standard transactions and cut their wait times significantly, while still having access to a knowledgeable staff person if needed. The ability to self-service increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, and even presents the opportunity for customers to educate themselves on banking products and services. And a more informed customer base creates more opportunity for staff to build stronger relationships.
In addition to being excellent opportunities for physical brand extension, kiosks on the market today can perform functions like:
- Check deposit
- Cash deposit
- Stripe, chip, and contactless card reader
- ID reader
- Interactive, responsive display
- Two-way video capabilities
- USB and SD memory card input
- Digital document signing
- Document scanning
- Receipt printer
- Fingerprint reader
- Product catalogue
- Product demos
Virtual Teller Agents
A truly 21st-century banking asset, virtual teller agents can provide expert assistance to customers and members while enabling banks and credit unions to keep costs down. An on-call virtual teller agent can work from anywhere and remote-access a kiosk via two-way video call.
By adopting a virtual teller model, banks can avoid overspending on underutilized experts. The branches with the heaviest foot traffic can even keep these experts onsite, where they can still provide remote services in between face-to-face interactions.
Virtual tellers allow customers to interact with an expert privately, from any location, at almost any time of day, which makes banking much more convenient for all. This type of service allows banks and credit unions to bring the branch to the customer, so virtual tellers can even help an FI expand its market reach.
Bank Kiosk Benefits
Self-service kiosks are appealing to a broad range of customers, and FIs that haven’t implemented these types of solutions would be wise to consider the benefits. As part of our services, we work with clients to build surrounds and digital-enabled kiosks that act as brand extensions beyond the physical branch — think ATMs or interactive teller machines (ITMs) in retail spaces, arenas, transportation hubs, etc.
Today’s kiosk models have made huge strides in improving the customer experience through ease-of-use and security — not to mention redefining the value of the physical branch.
Detached or off-site kiosks provide round-the-clock banking for the busy consumer. Since most banks and credit unions only open their lobbies during business hours, people who work the same hours need solutions that align with their schedules.
Proximity & Convenience
Offsite kiosks can bring banking services to the places where customers actually reside or work. Even if a bank or credit union closes a physical branch, satellite kiosks can help to retain a large share of that branch’s customer base.
The kiosk’s ability to take on routine transactions, coupled with its small footprint, means that banks and credit unions that implement self-serve technology can significantly reduce staffing and operating costs. The self-service angle can also attract more customers through convenience, which means that offsite kiosks have the ability to increase revenue.
Reduced Branch Footprint
At a fraction of the size of a full branch, offsite or detached kiosks can provide a similar level of service when it comes to routine transactions or virtual teller consults. In-store kiosks take up about as much space as a standard vending machine, if not less, so banks and credit unions have the option of downsizing without sacrificing their level of service.
Even with the ubiquity of mobile app use, customers are still cautious when it comes to sharing their personal information online or over the phone. With onsite or offsite kiosks, customers still get the app experience with the knowledge that their data is secure behind their FI’s firewall.
Driven by Technology
The digital transformation of retail banking has numerous benefits: It helps streamline and automate processes, introduce innovative new products and services, ensure secure and compliant operations, and connect more customers to financial services. Self-serve kiosks help to achieve all these outcomes, in addition to building customer confidence in your brand, reducing costs and saving space, and empowering employees to deliver better service.
Reduced Wait Times
Peak banking hours are stressful for customers and staff, especially if there are limited tellers. Self-serve kiosks can significantly reduce wait times and allow employees to be more flexible in providing more complex services.
New Customer Onboarding
The majority of customers still prefer to open a new account in person, but this may be because they don’t trust the security of mobile apps or websites. With full-service kiosks, customers can feel confident in opening a new account in a physical branch without actually having to wait for a teller. Kiosks can capture customer IDs, provide document scanning and digital signing capabilities, and alert bank staff when a customer needs more personalized assistance.
New Product Demos
Through engaging and interactive visuals, kiosks can educate customers on new products and services without the aid of a staff person. Video tutorials can walk customers through processes like opening a new account, navigating online banking, or enrolling in savings programs. Digital demos can also be used during employee training.
If you’re as excited by these possibilities as we are, let’s talk more! Our goal is to help your institution deliver high-quality financial services that turn routine banking errands into memorable experiences. Reach out today to start a project with Element.