The use of two-way video for customer service opens up myriad possibilities for branches. Banks potentially could use the technology to reduce branch overhead, to bring service to remote areas, or to provide extra service inside busy branches.

But video use also could have unintended consequences. If customers are waiting in line to use an ATM, what will their response be if the person in front of them is having a long video session with a remote teller? How should the centralized customer-service offices that handle video sessions be staffed to make sure customers who require a live agent for a video session are able to access one?

"With new branch automation, institutions should have a robust implementation plan to make sure they are optimizing the new technology. It's about thinking through what you want to provide, and educating customers and measuring the impact of new tech on the business," says Chris Gill, senior director of Diebold Consulting.

As adoption of in-branch video expands, ATM manufacturers such as Diebold Inc. and NCR Corp. are examining how the use of video changes consumer experience and the subsequent impact on branch performance. The goal is to gain intelligence that can be used by banks to develop strategies to best deploy two-way video ATMs.

"One of the things we're looking at is the role of two-way video in a self-service environment. … We are interested in discovering the impact to the consumer," says Becky Falconer, Diebold senior director of consumer transaction services. "You want to ensure that by serving one customer in an enhanced fashion, you don't negate the impact on other services that other consumers are expecting from that machine."

As an example, an ATM withdrawal usually takes less than a minute, Falconer says. If video conversations with remote bank service staff are thrown into the ATM mix, however, it opens up the possibility that the person at the front of the line will be at the ATM longer than average minute.

One of the things Diebold is hoping to discover through pilot testing is what happens in that scenario–how do the consumers at the back of the line behave when someone in front of them is in a video session that lasts for a few minutes? Do they go to a live teller inside the branch? Do they leave? Do they complain?

The answers to those questions can determine how many machines to add to branches, where in the branch they should be located, if video and older ATMs should be separate, and how the remote video customer center should be staffed. While banks that dabble in video service often use a system derived from legacy call center staff modeling to determine video ATM teller staffing, the Diebold pilots will attempt to bring video-specific science to staffing.

"We want to add value by adding two-way video. … We want to make sure that if we are using video technology that also has a role with self-service that we've thought about the time and impact. We're also thinking about the security aspect," Falconer says, referencing issues such as the space required between the user of a video ATM and other people in the branch.

Diebold didn't give an exact timeframe for the tests and categorized them as ongoing. Its lab partners include Co-op Financial Services, a consortium of more than 3,500 credit unions that share branches, network, payment processing, e-commerce and call center services.

Co-op's shared ATM network includes more than 28,000 machines, and the consortium plans to test two-way video in some machines in conjunction with Diebold. The new ATM services in the pilot will include the ability to connect to call center service via two-way video. The service will integrate with a credit union call center or the Co-op Member Center. Co-op is providing network access and Diebold is providing member identification and video services.

NCR also is examining how consumers use two-way video tellers.

Brian Bailey, NCR vice president of branch transformation, refers to "basket size" as a differentiator between when customers use ATMs in traditional fashion and when they opt for two-way video. "If you're in a supermarket and are deciding on a self-service or full-service checkout lane, that's dictated by the size of your basket. We're applying that to the video teller space," he says.

Generally, transactions that can be completed in one minute or less are self-serve. ATM sessions that take more than one minute–involving more complicated transactions such as split deposits–go to video tellers, and those video sessions typically last about two to three minutes.

Among NCR's surprises in the early study has been strong adoption of video teller services in drive through lanes.

There was some initial concern that consumers would not use video teller services while in their cars, Bailey says. And in terms of staffing video tellers, Bailey says that while there isn't a single model that works in all cases, there are some trends that can be learned about how and when people are more likely to use two-way video.

"We're seeing higher traffic at certain times of the week, such as on Friday afternoons," he says. "So these are times when video teller staff are increased," he says.

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