With self-service ATMs, Wells Fargo thinks big to build small

| by Suzanne Cluckey
With self-service ATMs, Wells Fargo thinks big to build small

Anymore, an FI's branch expansion motto isn't so much "Go big or go home" as it is "Go small or go bust."

Setting aside an '80s-era mentality of building big, banks today are moving to a smarter, smaller, economically sustainable approach. What makes it possible: advanced ATM technologies that can condense teller functions that used to fill hundreds of square feet into a device with approximately the dimensions of a card table.

It was this kind of self-service ATM that made possible the compact, intimate and efficient "neighborhood bank" Wells Fargo opened this week in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Mighty, small

A mere 1,000 square feet, the store features an open floor plan (minus teller windows) a paperless, secure Wi-Fi driven workflow, and NCR SelfServ ATMs.

View the photo gallery.

The machines boast a vibrant, 19-inch touchscreen with an intuitive interface, and Wells' recently introduced "You Know Me Better" software, which anticipates a customer’s transactions based on their typical ATM use pattern.

Additional technologies include instant issue debit cards, e-receipts, $1, $5, $20 and $100 bill dispensing, and the NCR scalable deposit module, which accepts cash checks together — "any which way" — through a single slot.

What separates these machines from other NCR Self-Serv devices is that they integrate into the store design, eliminating the cold and mechanical "grey box" feel that often characterizes a free-standing ATM.

A 'grey box' makeover

"We've allowed what we call 'attachment points' for branch fittings and finishings," said Brian Bailey, vice president and general manager of NCR branch transformation. "There's a wood panel finish across the front of the machine and a granite [counter]top that actually fits in with the overarching colors and brand palette of the branch itself."

Freed from the "teller corral" by self-service technology, tablet computer-equipped Wells Fargo team members can now engage directly with customers in the open lobby area and focus on service and sales.

"Alcoves" at the back of the store provide a comfortable, inviting space where team members can "transition" customers into a more private banking environment without isolating them in an office. After hours, these alcoves are closed off, transforming the store into a 24-hour self-service lobby.

"We spent a lot of time on how team members interact with customers in the branch itself," Bailey said. "For instance, how do we properly correograph the interactions if a customer using an ATM device then wants to have a discussion about a product, service or other consultation. We don't want to have that in the public front of the branch so we created the correography that allows us to take that customer to a more private area."

Jonathan Velline, head of Wells Fargo banking and store strategy, said that NCR had been a "great partner" in the development of the new store. "They share our vision in creating great technology and experience not just for customers, but for team members too," he said.

Evolution, ATM-enabled

Velline described the new store format with its enhanced self-service capabilities as complement to the bank's current distribution network. It is like nothing else in the bank's portfolio of facilities, but it does share some common service elements.

"Touchscreen interfaces have been part of our teller transactions for a while now, and have been in all our stores for over a year," Velline said. "We see this as an extension of that strategy, where we can use technology to support our customers transactions whether they want the support of a team member, or if they’re completely self-service. The key here is the customer is in charge, and the team member is available to help."

Bailey expects to see more of the financial industry move to the compact, self-service branch format that Wells Fargo introduced to the NoMa neighborhood this week.

"Things have to change in terms of size and overall operating expense of bank branches. And I think what you're seeing is kind of the leading edge of ... a trend that I think will continue," he said. "I think one exciting thing is that the technology platforms are evolving in a way that actually allow us to take this step."

Read more about multi-function ATMs.

Topics: ATM Innovation, Bank / Credit Union, Enclosures / Surrounds, Manufacturers, Trends / Statistics

Companies: NCR Financial Services

Suzanne Cluckey

Suzanne’s editorial career has spanned three decades and encompassed all B2B and B2C communications formats. Her award-winning work has appeared in trade and consumer media in the United States and internationally. She is now the editor of ATMmarketplace.com and WorldofMoney.com

wwwView Suzanne Cluckey's profile on LinkedIn

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