Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a big difference. Such is the case with the placement of interactive teller machines (ITMs). For example, it’s important to know which way the sun sets.
“That makes a big difference in the video quality when you’re using them outside,” says Jim Spradlin, president and CEO of Park Community Credit Union ($745.0M, Louisville, KY). “Inside the branch, you need to consider privacy. We’ve added soundproofing to help with that. And the backdrop of the ITM tellers themselves is important to the presentation.”
ITMs — also called personal teller machines, remote tellers, and video tellers — are gaining acceptance among credit unions as a way to securely and efficiently extend hours and footprint.
Read more about ITM strategies in, "Virtual Reality Meets Physical People At A Kentucky Credit Union.
As the technology and techniques for ITMs mature, so, too, do staffing and training strategies; however, there are some best practices that can help any credit union make the most of this teller tool.
No. 1: Follow The Leader
No sense in going this alone. Park Community paid a call to Wright-Patt Credit Union ($3.1B, Beavercreek, OH) to check out its ITMs. And a couple of years before that, Wright-Patt had done the same at Coastal Federal Credit Union ($2.6B, Raleigh, NC), itself a pioneer in ITM deployment. Wright-Patt also visited NCR’s innovation center not long after the ATM maker bought ITM pioneer uGenius.
No. 2: Try Before You Buy
Wright-Patt Credit Union has 32 ITMs deployed among 11 locations, but it didn’t invest this heavily before taking a test drive.
“We received one ITM that we used to test, learn the functionality, and determine how it would work in our environment,” says Steve Zimmer, southwest Ohio market leader for Wright-Patt Credit Union. “We also demonstrated the machine to our member advisory panel to get their feedback.”
Read more about ITM strategies in, "Video Tellers Play A Major Role In Wright-Patt Credit Union's Move East."
Park Community also brought an ITM home and encouraged staff to give it a go before unleashing the new service to members.
“We love the idea of centralizing our teller staff and felt it was a much safer and efficient way of providing teller transactions with a personal touch,” says Spradlin, whose Kentucky credit union now has 16 machines in use at three locations. “We did a tremendous amount of testing to determine exactly what the machines could and could not do for us.”
Work In Progress
Park Community and Wright-Patt credit unions are still working on the best way to manage their resources and provide maximum member service via the ITMs. That includes working with ITM manufacturer NCR to improve functionality. For example, the machines recently added the ability to stop a transaction if the “Get Hold Info” button isn’t pressed, Zimmer says.
Here are three other improvements on the WPCU manager’s wish list:
Notify members of the estimated wait time. “Currently the member sees a video with marketing messaging while they wait, but we'd like for it to give them an estimated wait time as well.”
The ability for members to load checks/cash to queue up deposits while they wait. “We also would like to be able to mix cash and checks into a single bundle.”
The ability for members to deposit cash/checks into a general pool and then distribute to accounts. “Currently funds are deposited into one of the member's accounts and distributed from there to the member's other accounts.”
No. 3: Think Big
Some essential features are obvious — like deposit and withdrawal functionality — but check imaging is a great benefit, too. And, Spradlin advises, great audio and video quality is a must-have.
According to Zimmer, ITMs need to replicate what happens at an in-person teller window so transaction processing is close to an in-person teller.
For Wright-Patt Credit Union, ATM functionality is the next step in that it allows the machines to be useful even when not staffed.
“We believe this is critical and are in the midst of testing it for rollout later this year,” says Darrick Weeks, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Ohio cooperative.
Park Community also is in the process of adding the ATM feature. Meanwhile, Spradlin says, he would like to see the ability to automate new memberships and take loan applications added to the ITM service menu.
No. 4: Listen To Members
Both Park Community and Wright-Patt credit unions are still learning about what interests members and what they eschew.
For instance, Zimmer says, “Some WPCU members enjoy the ability to insert their loan payment coupons into the ITM, even though it’s not necessary.”
Also, members use the handsets for additional privacy more than Wright-Patt expected, yet they rarely use the headphone jacks. Meanwhile, at Park Community, “Not a lot of our members are using the handset and even fewer are using the headphone jack,” Spradlin says.
No. 5: Don’t Make Assumptions
Member response to ITMs differs depending on whether the technology is in a new branch or a retrofitted one.
“Don’t declare victory too soon,” Weeks says. “This is one of our biggest lessons learned.”
Credit unions are well advised to avoid deploying ITMs on auto-pilot, no matter how experienced they are.
“We had been on the technology for nearly two years and failed to recognize it was brand new in our retrofitted locations,” Weeks says. “We realized this quickly and made the necessary changes to ensure continued success.”
The credit union now adds extra employees for 60 to 90 days after opening a new or retrofitted ITM location to help members learn the new technology.