COMMENTARY

3 tenets of ATM availability in the connected economy

Sept. 7, 2017

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by Rick Marquardt, Executive VP, Services, Enterprise Quality and Telecom & Technology, NCR Corp.

In today's connected economy, consumers are in the driver's seat. They are digitally empowered, thriving on instant gratification and frequent rewards. Whether it's banking, shopping, eating or traveling, they want to interact across channels on their own terms.

And they don't like roadblocks.

The expectation of an always-on, omnipresent business model is now a given. Analyst Daniel Newman explains why customer experience matters: "More than half of customers today say they've switched companies solely because of poor user experiences. Companies who fail to embrace CX as strategic path to growth won't just be lagging, they'll get left behind."

However, a key challenge to customer experience is that you can't deliver 24/7 availability without regard to cost. Likewise, devices at the edge of the enterprise — like kiosks and ATMs — are valuable revenue generators and need to be working (available) to produce.

From a business perspective, producing optimal customer experience, at an acceptable cost and while maximizing revenue, requires a three-pronged approach. The three tenets of availability in the connected economy go right to the bottom line:

  1. Customer experience. Does the machine work properly? Does it have the functionality that consumers want? Is it easy to use or to get help, if needed?
  2. Efficiency. What does it cost to deliver the best experience to the customer? Are you able to schedule maintenance and repairs for off-peak use?
  3. Revenue. Are you generating additional revenue by servicing more customers? Are you able to engage employees in higher value transactions? Do the devices help cross-sell and upsell?

In the wake of the next era of the omnichannel consumer, these and other questions are moving "availability" from an operational KPI to a strategic initiative. It's clear that to keep consumers loyal and to remain competitive, companies must understand how availability plays a role in creating a reliable, differentiated, and satisfying consumer experience in the omnichannel era.

The role of big data in availability

An ATM or POS terminal that is not in service is easily recognized and fixed. Yet there is a fallacy in the idea that "working" translates to a satisfied customer and a successful consumer interaction: Research shows a 98 percent availability rate for ATMs does not necessarily mirror the rate of customer transactions completed.

So what other "availability" factors can affect customer experience?

During high traffic times, the speed of the transaction could be an important aspect of availability, for example. Or in areas without easy access to a branch, deposit capabilities or video chat with a teller are ways consumers might measure availability.

The scenario is not just for ATMs, but for any of the converged online, mobile and in-store channels where consumers are interacting with businesses and on any device. Yes, the Internet of Things.

With IoT, each connected end-point device is like a nerve ending in a vast nervous system. It used to be that the best way to gauge the performance of end points was to monitor uptime and downtime, in a similar way that a physician would check vital signs.

Today, the collection and analysis of data from devices and transactions allows for a more holistic view of the customer experience. Every transaction tells a story about how devices and the network are performing, and more importantly, what the customer has actually experienced.

Given increasing demands of the consumer, now is the time to up the game and measure against the impact of such metrics as failed customer interactions, lost revenue, transaction slowdowns, machine utilization rates, average queuing times, etc., rather than a binary perspective of working versus not working.

This is where big data analytics is headed.  

Predictive patterns that foreshadow when a machine is going to fail or degrade in performance is just the beginning. Bringing together varying data types to deliver more sophisticated insights is the next level. What does this look like? It means intertwining variables like location and environmental conditions that allow data scientists to discern usage and serviceability patterns, or even understanding how guiding customers through transactions using certain prompts or paths can increase purchases or decrease transaction time.

Beyond that, applying advanced analytics to millions of data points (or connected devices across the world), will give enterprises the ability to provide benchmarking reports or rich comparative research that can be applied to entire industries.

Today, financial institutions and retailers have access to a wealth of information about their daily operations and customer activity which, used in the right way, could lead to new efficiencies not only in demand forecasting and cash management, but in other exciting CX areas yet to be determined.

Stay tuned.


Rick Marquardt is executive vice president of services, enterprise quality, and telecom and technology at NCR Corp. He is leading the services transformation strategic initiative at NCR, helping customers respond to disruptive changes presented by the connected economy, including globalization, digitization, consumerism and technology.

 


Topics: ATM Management, Trends / Statistics

Companies: NCR Corporation


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