Innovations Free Up Tellers to Focus on Relationships
Through the transformation of iPads into sophisticated banking kiosks and other frontline technology channels credit union tellers are able to work more efficiently than ever before while freeing up more time and opportunities to deepen relationships with members.
The installation of state-of-the-art ATMs that process dozens of transactions faster than tellers, and investments in automated cash recyclers as well as digital coin machines are also helping employees to better manage their time with members.
Read More From the Frontline Technology Focus Report:
Linda Bodie, president/CEO of the Charleston, W. Va.-based $26 million Element Federal Credit Union, who prefers the title chief + innovator, loves technology and has learned a lot about it over the years.
Bodie’s zeal for technology has helped her figure out how to transform an iPad into a bank kiosk that enables members to do about 25 different banking transactions from making payments, to getting money orders, transferring funds, stopping payments, filling out loan applications, skipping a payment, or filling out a debit card form.
“Once the digitized form is filled out by a member on the iPad, it’s transmitted to the appropriate person in the branch,” explained Bodie. The member is free to get a beverage in the branch café where the teller will meet the member to complete the transaction, or the member can meet the teller at the transact center.
What’s more, this kiosk application can be accessed from any desktop, laptop or mobile device, enabling branch transactions from anywhere the member is. For example, a member can fill out a form for a certified check from home in the morning and pick it up at the branch in the afternoon without having to wait in line.
“The technology reduces the amount of time the teller is actually doing transactions and it gives them more time to talk about the needs of the member,” said Bodie. “We have a lot of members who use the technology, and they love it. Our numbers are up and I attribute that to the technologies we have because we are making it easy for people to do business with us.”
Indeed, Element’s 12-month loan growth is at 5.68% and its net worth to assets ratio is 10.73%, according to fourth quarter 2012 data from Callahan and Associates Inc.
All the innovations are in line with Element’s recent transformation. In 2012, the cooperative changed its name from West Virginia United Federal Credit Union and unveiled a new look and brand identity.
Paul Yang, president/CEO of the $123 million Premier Community Credit Union in Stockton, Calif., said new frontline technologies are helping his credit union create the branch of the future.
Set to open in May, the new branch will only b3 1,600-square-feet and will feature teller pods and two new CO-OP Financial Services NextGen ATMs manufactured by Diebold Inc. Yang likes to call his new money machines kiosks because they can handle more transactions than your father’s ATM ever could, he said. The NextGen ATMs can accept transactions for members of other credit unions as long as their credit union participates in the CO-OP shared branching system.
With the NextGen ATM, members will be able to access any account, including sub accounts such as certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts and loans at any time of the day or night. Members can also make loan payments with cash and merchants can deposit multiple checks that the ATM will automatically sort and image.
Because Yang expects the new ATMs to get a lot of use, he is installing two of them so members won’t have long wait times. Premier Community CU also is one of the first credit unions in the nation to install the NextGen ATMs, according to CO-OP Financial Services.
Both Premier Community and Element are also using automated cash recyclers and dispensers. Studies conducted by Arca, a major cash automation device manufacturer in Mebane, N.C., show that cash recyclers can free up to six hours per day for tellers and head tellers and save $12,000 annually per branch.
The branch of the future, observed Yang, is about efficiency so that the branch can pay for itself.
“Having the ATM/kiosks and cash recyclers will make our staff more efficient,” said Yang.
“They won’t have to concentrate on counting cash. They’ll be able to concentrate on serving our members and identifying their needs for products and services.”
In 80% of U.S. households, there is a least one person who saves loose change, and 64% of all of that coin is taken to a financial institution, according to Cummins Allison, a Mt. Prospect, Ill.-based company that makes self-service devices that count, sort and authenticate currency.
The $75 million Hopewell Credit Union in Heath, Ohio, decided to install self-service coin machines to provide another free service for members. The coin machines have also been successful in bringing in new members and cross-selling.
To use them, nonmembers are charged a 5% surcharge fee. Some of them have become members once they find out they can get the service for free, said Hopewell Branch Manager Amy Landis.
She estimates four to five people a month sign up for membership.
“The No. 1 cross-sell is kids’ accounts,” Landis said. “We’ve done multiple marketing videos on Facebook showing kids dumping their coins out of their piggy banks into the coin machines. The kids absolutely love it, and the coin machine is a good tool for kids to learn about credit unions, as well as managing money, depositing and saving it.”
Hopewell’s coin machines are less obtrusive, smaller and quieter than other coin machines at supermarkets and other high-traffic retail locations, Landis said. The machine, which processes 4,000 coins per second with a counting accuracy of 99.99%, is equipped with a touch screen that walks members through the process. Once the coins are counted, the machine spits out a receipt for the teller to cash out or deposit.
“We’ve also signed up parents to become members or cross-sold to parents who are already members who come in with their kids to use the coin machines,” said Landis. “It gives our tellers an opportunity to inform people they can belong to a credit union. Sometimes people don’t realize they have that option.”