The top priority for a growing percentage of international banks to maximize ATM revenue is to increase customer services available at the machines, recently released survey data suggest.

Level Four Software Ltd. conducted the poll earlier this month at the ATM Industry Association European show. The Scotland-based ATM-software provider surveyed 48 industry specialists from several international locations, including the United Kingdom, Asia, South America and Europe.

The survey found that 27% of respondents are focusing on improving customer services available at the ATM. Last year, only 11% of respondents to a similar poll believed improving customer service at ATMs was a priority.

The significance has shifted because “banks want to put more emphasis on the ATM,” Level Four CEO Ian Kerr tells PaymentsSource. Moreover, “many consumers believe banks had a role in causing the recent economic turbulence. Because ATMs are the window of a bank, through increased customer service banks can show customers that this is a robust and reliable service while getting credibility back with its customer base,” he adds.

One way to increase customer service includes integrating the ATM with other channels.

“The top priority for banks is to add new products and services to ATMs to maximize revenue, which can include integrating banking services, such as the option to pay bills or recharge prepaid mobile phones,” Kerr says. In doing so, not only do consumers now have a convenient way of “topping off their mobile phone accounts, but the bank makes money off the transaction,” he says.

Barclays PLC in the United Kingdom currently offers consumers the option to reload mobile phones at its ATMs.

Other observers agree that increasing customer service at the ATM can help increase revenue for banks.

“We’re seeing banks taking more of a multichannel view of business than before,” Bob Meara, a senior analyst at Celent LLC, a Boston-based research and consulting firm. “The most obvious may be building systems that allow bank personnel to have a 360-degree view of customer activity,” he adds.

Indeed, ATMs are becoming “part of the ongoing evolution of branch networks,” Meara says.

For instance, Brazil-based Banco de Credito BCP offers its customers four machines at one ATM location, including a multifunction ATM for deposits and other bank services, an ATM solely for cash withdrawals, and an audio service phone and desk, Meara explains.

“It is not just how ATMs can better serve customer needs, it's how banks can (use all channels to) best meet customer needs as cost effectively as possible,” Meara says. The evolution, however, “will be slow, deliberate and costly. Many banks will take "baby steps" before undertaking this type of initiative–especially in the United States,” he surmises.

 

 

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