Transforming self service: ‘It’s not a short journey’

Conversations about financial services that didn’t include the words “branch transformation” were few and far between at BAI Retail Delivery in Chicago in November 12-14, 2014. The subject was on everyone’s lips.

It was also on the conference agenda as the subject of several sessions, including one that discussed the “Next Generation of Self Service.”

Tammy LoCascio, retail delivery manager at First Tennessee Bank, moderated the session. Panelists included:

  • Danny Tang, worldwide channel transformation leader for global banking and financial markets at IBM;
  • Andrew Orent, president and CEO of Nautilus Hyosung America; and
  • Michael Bielamowicz, executive vice president of global solutions at Glory Global Solutions.

LoCascio began with a definition of terms:

TL: What is the difference between self-service and branch transformation?

AO: People, process, technology. I get asked quite often whether or not someone can buy this cool technology we’ve put in at Chase. And while I would love to sell it to anybody that’s out there, the reality is that simply buying a piece of technology, putting that in your branch, and calling that branch transformation — I promise you will fail. You’ve got to understand how people are trained and behave; what they do today and what we need them to do tomorrow. And you have to understand what you want changed process-wise to give you the consumer interactions that you value value as you move them. And if you don’t do all three, don’t waste your time. Once you do that, you start piloting and go into deployment, then you get significant benefits out of it. But it’s not a short journey.

TL: What will be successful this time as opposed to previous attempts to replace the teller with self-service kiosks over the last decade?

MB: Most of the previous attempts were actually made in the pre-smartphone era. They were made before we were getting our airline tickets through kiosks or self-serving ourselves at the grocery store. …

We’ve learned how customers now behave when they’re confronted by a self-service terminal, particularly when it was a kind of business they expected to do with an employee. … And we talk now about what’s the customer experience in working with that kiosk. It’s not just the way we deliver, it’s the customer experience. People are willing to do self-service transactions at a self-service terminal when they perceive more value using that channel than using another channel.

TL: What technologies will really change self service?

DT: We’ll start seeing technologies that come in and fill in the gaps — that bridge self-service and assisted self-service. Things like video — how can we deploy video on kiosks with ATMs? How can we bring the kind of personal touch to devices?

It could be voice, it could be video, it could be a lot of things. On the other hand, we’re also trying to bring the kind of convenience that everyone gets from their smartphone and smart devices from self-service to the staff-assisted channels. So we are seeing a lot of banks thinking about “How about iPads for every banker so that we can go around in the lobby talking to the customers, helping customers?”

TL: What is the business case? Is there a payback?

AO: We have to make the case, because the economics today aren’t working. And everybody in this room has exactly the same problem.

There aren’t a lot of [branch transformation] projects out there, but we’ve been involved in many of them and we’re seeing fairly significant drops in branch costs and teller costs — if you follow the people, process and technology elements.

MB: This idea of transformation is a tricky one. Do we think that this is something we can do one time and we’re done? I think that’s kind of a wrong-headed idea.

The reason we talk so much about transformation right now is that a lot of us are afraid that we’re actually behind our customers. Our customers are ahead of us in how they’re thinking about how they want to work with us. And we’re trying to figure out how to catch up with them. …

We can put some new paint and some new branding on and put some more machines in but what we really need to figure out is what’s going to draw the right customers at the right time … what creates the value for them to come [to the branch] and what creates the right value for us in terms of delivery cost. And if we get that right, we really do have that transformation moment. But that’s just the one before the next one. … It’s a continuous process.

TL: How can we bring a more human touch to the self-service experience?

DT: I think we’ll see more touchscreen … a more pleasing interface, a better experience. And I think that in the future we’ll see some artificial intelligence embedded in self-service. We are working with several banks around the world on a Watson-type of artificial intelligence program, like how can we bring the type of expertise to self-service so we don’t require a true human expert on the other side of the self-service device.

MB: We talk about omnichannel and bringing these things together. We can make a convenient, fast transaction more personal. And the way we do that is we start to link the channels. If your phone lets you cue up a transaction and tells you when you’re near a device or a bank where you can complete that transaction, you have a personal assistant in your pocket. That’s as personal as it gets.

AO: Customers are going to migrate to the most convenient channels. So if you want them to migrate to self-service or assisted self-service, you better make sure that the self-service devices that you’re putting out there, whether it be phone or the iPad or a kiosk of some sort is as or more convenient than the same set of transactions with the same set of rules. We do believe we can get as high as 75 and 85 percent. And that is likely not today’s traditional ATM.

photo courtesy andrei niemimäki | flickr

 

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