We live in an era defined by maximum mobility and service availability for consumers, where great strides in technological innovation have created an expectation for people to be able to access the things they want, when they want them.
Consider the impact the likes of Amazon and Apple have had on the retail and music industries. Consumers can now find an item they want to purchase online, pay for it with a single tap of their phone and have it delivered in just a few hours. The experience of buying music has become even more immediate, with users able to find what they are looking for, download it to their device and start listening in a matter of minutes.
These groundbreaking models have ushered in a new era of consumer demand for the services they rely on to be available 24/7, and to be delivered quickly and easily. Financial institutions need to be ready to meet this level of expectation in an area that remains absolutely critical to the overall customer experience in retail banking: the self-service channel.
Why self-service is so important
It’s not uncommon in the financial services industry to hear this argument: ATMs and cash will soon go extinct and be replaced by cards, contactless payments and mobile.
But the truth of the matter is that growth in contactless payments and the mobile channel is not making self-service banking and physical currency irrelevant. It is simply broadening the scope of financial services and giving consumers more choice than ever before.
Even with such a wide range of channels to choose from, consumers are still heavily reliant on ATMs and cash. Research from RBR has shown that global ATM withdrawals increased by ten percent to 99 billion in 2015, while the number of ATMs in operation worldwide is expected to reach four million by 2021. One of the key factors in these trends is financial inclusion, with banks deploying the expanding functionality of the self-service channel to deliver services to the unbanked.
Furthermore, evolution in self-service is helping financial institutions to migrate straightforward transactions away from the counter, thereby reducing operational costs and freeing up tellers to focus on customer service and sales. In April 2016, Mercator Advisory Group released a report showing that, in the US, consumers wanting to deposit checks have shown a growing preference for using self-service over going to the counter.
How to maximize availability
Given the ongoing importance of the self-service channel, one of the challenges for banks is achieving the sort of 24/7 availability and user experience consumers have become accustomed to in the mobile era.
From this perspective, it can prove highly beneficial to use a dedicated self-service management solution to gain maximum visibility over your ATM network, ensuring you can identify problems as quickly as possible and make better-informed decisions.
Carefully planned and executed cash management processes can also prove valuable in ensuring optimum availability for customers and managing costs for the business. A solution such as cash recycling, for example, can make sure that currency is available for withdrawal and keep cash replenishment costs down, while also taking counterfeit notes out of circulation.
As far as user experience is concerned, innovations such as touchscreen interfaces, virtual connections with remote tellers and mobile pre-staging are aligning ATMs more closely with mobile and bridging gaps between physical and digital channels.
It is this sort of modernization and progressive thinking that will ensure the self-service channel stays relevant and meets the rapidly evolving demands of consumers in the mobile age.