Why self-service banking is essential in a post-pandemic world

Customers want banking transactions to be digital and simple but expect customer service to be interactive, said Simon Powley, head global advisor consultant for Diebold Nixdorf.

“I think what a lot of financial institutions struggle with is there’s a lot of technology and opportunity out there so the question becomes how to begin to prioritize,” he said during an interview with ATM Marketplace.

See below for the rest of the interview.

Q: Do you think, post-pandemic, there will be a call for more self-service kiosks?

A:I think if anything [the pandemic] has advocated for a lot of the things we’ve been talking about in regard to our products and services. The prioritization around self-service has never been more important, and we’re very excited about developing new conversations and helping financial institutions transform all this chaos into something good for their organization.

Q: Do you think, in terms of branch transformation, financial institutions post-pandemic should go to a self-service platform?

A: I think it’s important to look at the entire ecosystem, especially with COVID right now. We know that self-service is playing out at the ATM, but whether a branch needs to consider tablet integration, cardless transactions or how mobile technology integrates with their ATM and other channels, I think it’s a major concern moving forward. All these options are important because people want to be safe, they are trying to be safe. Even though options such as self-service capabilities and technologies have been available, I think it’s more important now that ever before that financial institutions look what they are doing. I think we’re going to see a lot of changes happening with branch transformation where maybe it wasn’t really as important before as it is now. Financial institutions have to really look at what they’re doing, what channels they have available and how it all is going to impact their customers.

Q: Do you think the customers post-pandemic will look to their bank to offer an omnichannel approach?

A:We’ve been talking about this and developing road maps for all different financial institutions prior to the pandemic. We deal some of the largest most complex financial institutions in the world, as well as the smallest credit union that operates in a local entity. The conversations are happening, but this isn’t a one-size fits all process. Maybe [post-pandemic] that one branch credit union where everyone knows everyone else, omnichannel banking won’t work. We have to look at the entire ecosystem, of what they’re doing and what kind of products and services their customers are asking or expecting to have.

Q: What do you think financial institutions struggle with in terms of branch transformation?

A: I think what a lot of financial institutions struggle with is there’s a lot of technology and opportunity out there so the question becomes how to begin to prioritize? You have to know what things come first in order to look at what you want to do. You really have to break that down based upon your customer base or member base for a credit union. Financial institutions have to determine what are the priorities? What are they looking to do? How do they want to impact not just the customer, but the community? What is their propensity to really adapt to technology, and is bringing in technology and adapting important to them and to their customers? One thing we do know definitively, which was true even before COVID happened but has certainly become amplified, is that customers really want to transact digitally, but want to interact physically. They want self-service, but they want it simple. They want great customer service, but they want to stay safe.

Q: So how can you make all that happen?

A: It’s really a matter of all the channels playing together in terms of safety and service. From a safety perspective, we’ve seen a lot of banks and financial institutions making changes. They have changed their hours, brought in people to manage traffic flow and in some cases, checking temperatures. They have brought in more cleaning people and outfitted them with personal protection gear. We have seen branches and retailers with ATMs marking off floor space in six feet increments to adhere to social distancing.

In terms of what we’re doing, we are very proud that those people servicing our ATMs are considered essential workers. We are supplying them with personal protection equipment and ensuring that they are disinfecting the systems both before and after maintaining the [machine]. We’re looking into antimicrobial coatings that can help reduce the spread of germs. We are looking at what the CDC is recommending in terms of touching equipment and keeping our staff informed.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’re facing?  

A:We don’t see challenges, we see opportunities. One area is automated deposits. There are still many financial institutions out there that don’t have deposit automation on their ATMs or haven’t fully deployed it yet. In this kind of environment, you have to look at doing automated deposits.  Financial institutions may want to be more efficient, but they also want to cut costs. They have to look at ways to supplement tellers since coming back from the pandemic they may have staffing changes.  

Everything a financial institution is planning on doing needs to be looked at on how they are interacting with their customer and are they doing it in the most efficient manner? If they have touch screens, how do they keep people safe if they need to touch the screen?  How can you make things more automated and adjust your business rules so they stay simple too? How can you drive adoption within your customer member base to help support them? What are your next steps? Should you offer cardless contact since we believe that’s going to be very important moving forward?

There is no question that people are being especially careful right now, but those trends are probably going to continue at least over the next several years. You want your customers to be safe. You want to leverage devices that can be kept clean. You want to set up contactless transactions at an ATM or pre-stage them through a mobile phone.

Retailers and financial institutions need to consider cash recycling and denomination selections at an ATM because it is more efficient.  Denomination selection has been one of the most desired attributes of an ATM. What kind of small businessperson can stand in line for long periods of time at a bank branch?

Q: Are financial institutions concerned if they consider self-service kiosks, the customer experience could be altered?

Whether they’re a medium-sized bank or a regional bank, financial institutions want to connect with their customers. That’s where they can differentiate themselves and where they can really stand out. Large institutions are always looking for ways to innovate as a result of their technology capability, but they still want to interact with customers. And even when you don’t see many customers in the branch, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be seeing them through another channel technologically. Customers are going to transact in the way they prefer now, but financial institutions need to keep customer connections alive.

An ATM can do several bills and checks at the same time. That helps a bank be more efficient. More efficient makes for a better customer experience. There are larger screens, the ability to use multi-denominations and functionality that can drive contactless transactions. From a software perspective, there are teller video self-service systems that can be implemented quickly.

A financial institution needs to empower their customers. They can do it with core integration and create a great experience. Customers can still utilize self-service technology, but the overall experience still needs to be a good one. If you integrate and leverage all your technology, the customer will see how you are not just focused on efficiency, you are focused on experience. And that’s what we want to do. We want to help financial institutions become more efficient with self-service technology but still keep a positive experience. By doing that we can help our customers run a more efficient and effective organization for their customers.

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