Will Pandemic-Era Use Cases Cause an Interactive Teller Machine Rebirth?

man at the cash machine
By Emily Engstrom

3 minutes

The all-in-one hybrid ITM channel may find new purpose post-COVID.

For the foreseeable future, credit unions and their members will be navigating the twisty road of COVID-19 recovery. Hybrid banking models seem to be the most workable strategy for the time being (and probably well into the future). Enabling a mix of digital engagement and face-to-face interaction, hybrid models keep everyone moving forward safely and effectively while providing an engaging and personalized member experience.

In this amalgam environment, the interactive teller machine could experience something of a rebirth. As an all-in-one hybrid channel, the ITM provides the ideal human-machine combo that could solve some of the emerging pandemic-era use cases. That said, credit unions must develop a well-defined strategy to increase member engagement in digital channels. Fortunately, the increasing availability of data is making the prospects of planning a much lighter lift.

ITM Strategy Steps for the Pandemic-Era Credit Union

Building any strategy, ITM or otherwise, begins by determining which problems the new approach is hoping to solve or which opportunities it is looking to exploit. An example relevant to ITM strategy is to increase member engagement in digital channels to alleviate pressure on the still-turbulent branch channel.

At the outset of ITM program design, the credit union team must also define what success looks like by determining which key performance indicators they will actively measure to keep a pulse on the program’s effectiveness and which data elements they will need to collect (and from where) to make that measurement efficient, effective, accurate and as real-time as possible.

From there, the team should identify the specific member segment(s) they want to reach through the ITM program. These may be members for whom the ITM channel will be most meaningful—the people whose financial lives will improve with access to an ITM. They may also be members who represent a significant growth opportunity for the credit union.

Take, for instance, members aged 28 to 35. They are likely active in digital channels already and are also approaching a peak spending and borrowing life stage. As recently reported by CUNA, millennials are right now reporting the highest need for loans at 71%. That’s up 30% from two years ago.

Sourcing Data to Map Out Deployment Plans

After the strategy is solidified, the team can begin to dig into the data to make concrete decisions about deployment. At this stage, many credit union teams choose to take a step back and ensure their data house is in order before proceeding further with the ITM program. That’s because without clean, accessible and accurate data, the credit union runs the risk of launching a program based on gut instinct rather than data-driven decisions. What’s more, measuring outcomes is extremely difficult without a foundational, single, trusted source of truth.

When the data is ready, credit unions can fire up their analytics engine to answer questions like this:

  • How are members in the target segment(s) already engaging in other digital channels?
  • What are the most common transactions being performed “off-line” that can be performed through an ITM?
  • Where do members in targeted segments live, work and play?
  • When are the simplest vs. the most complex transactions happening?
  • How might the virtual teller staffing strategy need to be set up to provide the best ITM experience for target members?

Meeting Members (and Prospects) Where They Are

Lifestyles continue to be in flux as the world decides how to travel, work, go to school, shop and bank. The versatility of hybrid models allows credit unions to be there when and where members need them most. Whether the ITM finally achieves ubiquity in the post-pandemic world remains to be seen, but the potential appears to be there. Even before the pandemic, 90% of those who used video banking said they would be willing to use it again.

The key to ITM success will be using the business intelligence credit unions have available to them and continuing to monitor data for as much insight into performance as possible. In conjunction with an agile strategy that enables fast pivots, the ITM may become the channel that cements member loyalty during an otherwise unstable time.

Emily Engstrom is director of customer success for CUESolutions provider AdvantEdge Digital.

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