For years the ATM has been the cornerstone of convenience and service; but consumers are redefining the meaning of this by increasingly demanding the functionality of cutting edge technologies in all aspects of their daily life. Call it the iPhone effect: The proliferation of smart phones over the past several years has yielded a consumer who is looking for technology that is cool, simple and connected. What's more, this type of thinking tends to allow consumers to believe anything is possible — recall, "There's an app for that."
Fortunately, the market continues to make strides to keep pace with these demands. If a consumer makes an on-screen selection, the ATM responds and carries out a specific task. The leading ATM platforms put users in the driver's seat of transactions and increase the available information financial institutions can retrieve and respond to, creating a win-win and better service all around.
With careful planning, new ATM interactions can deepen consumer loyalty with a measurable return on investment. Manufacturers, such as NCR Corp., are dedicating resources to research and develop product advancements that have a user-centric focus. Working directly with financial institutions to identify and implement ways to create more engaging experiences that meet consumers' changing expectations is all part of the process.
So what is available for financial institutions to keep track with consumer behavior and expectations?
Features at the ATM should engage consumers and encourage interaction in a way that feels and looks similar to many other tech gadgets. Consider the touchscreen, which allows direct manipulation of on-screen prompts. No longer do consumers want to navigate directories using a limited selection of buttons. Touchscreen technology means that consumers will expect a streamlined, intuitive user interface. As this technology advances along with personal computers and gadgets, the end result is an ATM that interacts with tech gadgets to create a seamless cross-channel experience that is both engaging and operationally efficient.
When an ATM interacts with a tech gadget it creates opportunities to save time, one of the most prized benefits for both consumers and businesses. Consumers could one day pre-stage all of their transactions — deposits, cash withdrawals or transfers to other accounts — by entering all of the information on their mobile device from anywhere. The mobile device could then signal the ATM to complete the transactions, saving time for the consumer and keeping waiting lines moving.
Another pervasive element of all new technologies is user-defined personalization. The ability to custom-form the ATM experience has advanced rapidly in the past years and will continue to be a key opportunity for financial institutions to interact with customers. Personalization puts customers in control of the ATM experience. Using the touchscreen, customers can provide instant feedback about their preferred transactions, from commonly withdrawn amounts to enhanced features such as customizable profiles. Imagine a parent of a college student who has a personalized profile that enables funds to be sent to help pay for books and school supplies direct from the ATM interface to either the student's account or mobile phone while they are in the bookstore.
Personalization drives 40 percent faster transactions, short lines and increased customer satisfaction. And by incorporating digital signage, financial institutions can drive revenue and services by supplying offers and marketing messages based on the user's personal profile.
Just like the iPhone and others that have given access to services and companies through non-traditional channels, the necessity of channel integration for financial institutions will continue to be a component of any successful customer experience strategy. The access of financial services through smartphones will continue just as the access of other services will make its way into multifunctional ATMs in the U.S. market.
Already generating buzz overseas, the multifunctional ATM could transform the way consumers interface with a variety of services. Imagine buying and printing concert tickets at the ATM, donating to a charitable organization or even paying speeding fines or filing taxes. What if premium banking customers could download a free movie or game while they get their cash as a thank you?
Marcia Crosland is the director of NCR's Customer Experience Consulting division, a practice that relies on human-factors analysis, optimization and consumer-experience design. NCR Customer Experience Consulting works with retailers and financial institutions worldwide. To submit a comment, please e-mail the editor, Tracy Kitten.