Why self-service is increasingly important to consumers

It’s a fact of life that consumers have very little patience for waiting, and the banking sector is no different. If they have to stand in line in a branch or sit in a call center queue in order to manage their finances, many people will end up frustrated.

This is why self-service has become such a hot topic in the industry. It’s increasingly clear that many consumers – particularly younger individuals – value the ability to take care of everyday activities themselves. Banks that do not offer such solutions are likely to struggle against more progressive competitors.

A growing appetite for self-service

This was evidenced by a survey published by Mercator Advisory Group last year. It revealed that in the US, for instance, there is a growing desire for self-service even when it comes to high-value interactions.

It found that dealing with a teller in person remains the preferred method for depositing a high-value check of at least $1,000. However, preference declined to 57 percent of respondents, from a high of 68 percent four years earlier.

The fastest-growing method of check deposit is mobile remote capture, which involves users taking a picture of a check on their smartphone and transmitting it via a banking app.

More than a fifth of users (21 percent) indicated this was their preferred method for high-value check deposit, while a similar number (19 percent) will primarily turn to this method for lower-value checks. This is up from 11 percent and nine percent respectively in 2012.

Meanwhile, a quarter of young adults (25 percent) prefer to use an ATM to deposit high-value checks, compared to 23 percent who would use remote deposit. For lower-value items, however, mobile is the preferred channel.

The need for convenience

This is primarily driven by people’s desire for convenience and ease of use when it comes to their banking activities. In today’s digitally-focused environment, there are much higher expectations than in the past, and the capabilities of self-service are evolving thanks to developments in both ATM and mobile technology.

The upshot is that people no longer view the branch as an integral part of their banking experience. Although many people still clearly value the level of trust that dealing in-person with a teller can provide when handling large transactions, for the most part they will not want to spend time waiting in line for basic activities.

This is not a trend that is limited to the US. In the UK, for example, a “consumer-led revolution” in personal finance is seeing more and more people use mobile apps to engage with their bank, as an alternative to always going into a branch.

Karen Augustine, manager of primary data services at Mercator and author of the firm’s report, observed: “Consumers want greater convenience and any options to enhance convenience and accessibility to their financial institutions are welcome as fewer consumers visit the branch for simple transactions.”

Written by Andrew Short

Andrew is NCR's Mobile and Payments Solutions Manager. He has 20+ yrs experience in the software industry covering banking, healthcare and the telecommunications verticals. With past positions in finance, accounting, sales, and production management, he brings significant mobile and payment expertise to his current role.

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