For many larger banks, keeping every ATM in their network running effectively can often be a challenging, and never-ending task. Channel management consists of many working parts, from keeping ATMs maintained to good working order and updated with the latest software and security patches, to the most essential task of ensuring their stock levels are always adequate.
Avoiding out-of-cash scenarios should always be the first priority for this, as if an ATM can’t manage one of its primary functions, this obviously will not reflect well on the operator, and lead to many frustrated customers. But this is not always a simple task due to outside factors that may be beyond a bank’s control.
This summer, for example, there were suggestions in the Indian press that the impact of four consecutive days of public holiday, during which time banks would be closed, would have a serious impact on the ability of nation’s ATMs to satisfy demand. In a heavily cash-reliant economy such as India’s, people unable to head into branches to make withdrawals would naturally turn to ATMs to gain access to their finances – and with replenishments also not taking place due to the lengthy holiday, there were warnings that ATMs were in danger of running dry.
The need to understand demand
Obviously, some peaks in activity can be predicted well in advance. Major shopping events such as Black Friday, for example, should be fixed in your calendar well in advance, allowing you plenty of time to make sure ATMs are well-stocked in preparation.
But not all spikes in demand are so easy to predict. In some locations, it won’t be enough to keep an eye on national calendars and previous history to forecast expected demand levels. Every network will have locations where local factors could have a drastic impact on a bank’s management operations.
For example, if you have locations near a sports stadium or concert venue, any replenishment planning will have to take into account the schedule to ensure services aren’t interrupted – and depending on the venue, this may have a significant impact on how you approach cash supply.
An 80,000-seat football stadium that hosts games every other Sunday needs to be treated differently from a 10,000-seat concert hall that may have a less predictable schedule. Either way, you need to apply local knowledge into your calculations. This may only apply to one or two individual machines on the network, but if they’re overlooked, you’re missing out on significant business.
Using the data you have available
Fortunately, there are a lot of powerful solutions available today to help manage demand and better forecast spikes, whether than can be predicted months in advance or have just a few days notice to adjust replenishment schedules.
Being able to plug in details including historical data along with known variables such as local factors and even anticipated weather conditions can help ATM operators create much better visibility of their fleet and identify potential issues that may affect the entire network, or even down to a single ATM that needs to be prioritized in order to ensure appropriate stock levels for any eventuality.
In today’s era of big data and machine learning, tools that can automate these calculations, adapt to changing circumstances and deliver alerts to employees when they are at risk of running low will be essential. With the right tools, advance planning doesn’t have to be difficult, or based on guesswork, but can give ATM operators a clear insight into where they need to be focusing their efforts at any given time.