Interactive Teller Machines, or ITMs, are like ATMs on steroids. In the ITM vs ATM machine battle, ITMs win the fight on functionality. Yet they have their drawbacks, too. So, should your financial institution bring in ITMs?
As ATM professionals, we’d like to help you answer that question. We’ve got our opinion, but it’s important to consider your customers, members, and institutional goals.
What Are Your Institutional Goals?
This is the big question. Any other question is just moot or academic. Really, you have to decide if your financial institution wants to provide the ITM service experience.
Providing a strong ATM network is common sense and should absolutely be an institutional goal. You want to extend the reach of your financial institution as far as possible. You need to keep things convenient for your customers and members. If they can’t get (or deposit) cash outside of business hours, that’s a problem.
The ITM experience offers that same convenience in a narrower window of time. Instead of operating 24/7, ITMs operate during staffed hours, when video tellers can assist customers with their various banking needs. Video tellers and voice chat offer broader, more personal service opportunities than traditional ATMs. However, accommodating before- or after-hours visits requires additional off-hours staffing, which drives up both the cost and complexity.
ITMs may be worth it if you feel you need to provide more opportunities for users to chat with your tellers face to face. But if all your customers want to do is withdraw or deposit cash quickly and conveniently, then there’s no reason to invest more money into machines—or the tellers who show up on their screens.
However, some institutional goals would warrant the inclusion of ITMs. For example, if you plan to:
Expand your teller presence
Create more opportunities for branch-like interactions
Move toward an online-first model with fewer branches (ITMs and call centers would handle the majority of in-branch needs)
If your institutional goals would benefit from expanded, interactive service, then ITMs are certainly worth considering. On the other hand, if your institutional goals don’t include more face-to-face time between tellers and customers, then ITMs may not be for you.
ITM vs ATM Machine Count
If you do decide that you want to bring ITMs into your ecosystem, then you have a few more questions ahead of you. Answering these questions will help you determine how many to bring in, where to bring them, and what you want to accomplish with them.
First, you should know your budget. ITMs will cost more than ATMs, and they will also cost more to maintain. That’s because there are more moving parts, which means that there’s more that can go wrong. Not only that, but ITMs have to be staffed, so to speak. Every minute that an ITM doesn’t have an associated teller is a minute where the ITM is just a complicated ATM. So, what does your budget allow?
Second, you should know where you need ITMs. For example, you probably won’t need one right outside your branch. If people want to speak with a teller, they can just head into the building. Locate areas where you have many customers but few (or no) convenient branches.
Third, what do you want to accomplish with ITMs? Is this a branding decision? A chance to increase awareness of new products, services, rates, or opportunities? Is it to build stronger engagement and loyalty with your base?
Once you’ve got these questions answered, you might have a good idea about how many ITMs you’ll want to deploy.
Here’s the thing: you don’t need to replace all your ATMs with ITMs. That’s an expensive proposition, and it will only end in tears.
When it comes to ATMs vs ITMs, you must consider a few more issues. Basically, who is going to use them?
Many people still prefer in-person interactions. While ITMs provide some semblance of face-to-face conversations, they’re ultimately digital. That means that people who want to speak with a teller may prefer going into a branch rather than driving through a digital kiosk.
Many people dislike personal interactions. Considering how many Millennials and Gen Zers prefer texting to talking on the phone, one might question how comfortable younger generations will be with a more intrusive, face-to-face interaction with their ATM.
Similarly, many people in older generations may not feel comfortable with ITM technology. They probably still get paper statements and avoid using mobile or online banking. Adoption rates among older generations may stay low.
Consider who you’re trying to reach with ITMs. How does that fit in with your institutional goals? Does that change the answers to any of your questions above?
Ultimately, the decision to use ATM vs ITM machines comes down to your needs. So long as you answer the necessary questions faithfully, you’ll probably make the right choice.
Regardless of whether you bring in ITMs or skip them altogether, you’ll need help managing the health of your fleet. ATM lifecycle management partners can help you strategize, store, ship, deploy, maintain, remarket, or dispose your machines.
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