Kiosks Evolving Branch Experience, Efficiency: Guest Opinion
A growing number of credit unions are working to make their branches more sales and service oriented and kiosks are part of the transformation. Kiosks are being used to provide members with complex product information and assist with member queuing—all while supporting management demand for better staff utilization and improved branch ROI. Kiosks are growing in popularity because they can help reduce transaction costs, staffing overhead, and generally boost member service levels.
The first kiosks started appearing in credit union branches in the late 1990s. These were fairly simple machines, used primarily to put the credit union’s brochures online and have them printed on demand, as well as providing a place to display current loan and deposit rates.
The next generation of kiosks provided members with a new way to conduct business when visiting the branch, which is especially convenient during peak hours or for conducting routine transactions. For example, Erie Federal Credit Union has deployed NCR’s Fast Branch Kiosks which combine transaction, security and marketing-related applications in one unit. Members are offered a full range of transaction services, including check deposits (without envelopes or deposit slips), check withdrawals, loan payments, advances and more.
Now a third generation of kiosks is gaining popularity: the branch check-in kiosk. If deployed as an unmanned check-in for new account services, they are typically fixed to a podium for convenience and security. This approach can make use of either a tablet computer or a traditional PC equipped with a touch screen. The tablet implementations tend to be more affordable than their larger PC kiosk cousins, with tablets running in the $300-500 range, and simple stands costing about $500-1000.
If used as a staff-assisted check-in, the tablet computer has the benefit of being highly portable, allowing the staff member to move about the branch lobby greeting visitors. Security issues are reduced, since the staff member maintains possession of the device. Regardless of the specific hardware that is used, the goal is the same: replace the traditional lobby clipboard with a modern check-in solution that delivers a multitude of benefits for both visitors and staff.
Without a doubt, self-service kiosks are growing in acceptance in our society. Not only are they present at airports around the world, but they are becoming increasingly common wherever consumers wait for service, like at medical offices, mobile phone retail stores, etc. Credit union members from all walks of life, particularly younger members, are accustomed to checking in digitally and often expect a high-tech experience over a paper-based process.
Teachers Credit Union in South Bend, Ind. has successfully implemented check-in kiosks via their partnership with Better Branches. Their branch employees can see the visitor queue at a glance from their computer and senior managers can easily track the performance of all branch queues from headquarters.
Of course, it’s the lobby queuing software that makes the check-in kiosk effective. By efficiently queuing incoming branch visitors and notifying staff of their arrival, member service representatives enjoy higher productivity levels. In addition to speeding up service at the first point of contact, a well-designed system provides a multitude of important service metrics to branch managers, operations personnel and senior management. Plus, staff efficiency improvements can translate into cross-sells and more profitable relationships, thereby contributing to the system’s ROI.
As credit union branches become more sales and service focused, check-in kiosks queue members coming in for more complex issues and financial advice. Check-in kiosks will also be used to handle video meetings with remotely-located experts.
And, of course, we mustn’t leave out mobile devices: members will be using them to determine the best time to visit the branch or to arrange an appointment with a new account staff member over the web. Better Branches is already responding with a Mobile Wait Indicator solution that provides real-time Visitors Waiting and Longest Wait information via the credit union’s website and compatible mobile web pages.
Kiosk and queuing solutions will make a significant contribution to helping credit unions evolve their branches to meet the changing requirements of their membership. The branch of the future is all about sales and service, and check-in kiosks are part and parcel of this important trend.
Rick Poulton is president of Better Branches.
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