ITM benchmarking: How data drives decision making

Written by Kelsey Osman and Rebecca Woods

Published July 29, 2021

It's one thing to have the data, it's another to use it correctly

Heavy competition in the financial industry means the bar continues to rise with no end in sight. So FIs need to use every resource available to them to set their brand apart and stay one step ahead of their competitors. That makes it more important than ever to use the data that’s at their fingertips to provide the best customer experience possible.

In regards to the third-party data you collect to glean insights from your customers’ purchasing habits, Google’s bold move to end third-party cookies in Chrome means it’s all about first-party data now—and using it to form business strategies is vital. The great news is that your ITMs give you a direct link to your customers’ first-party data, a large amount of it actually—something some of your competitors may not have.

And because that ITM data also relates specifically to your own performance it can be invaluable, particularly when it comes to benchmarking. How efficient are your tellers?  How long does it take your staff to process different types of transactions? What is your teller-to-ITM ratio? You can use answers to these questions and more to compare past and current performance and make adjustments for the future (not a small feat in the current environment) and compare wider industry trends—like how much time your customers wait for service at your ITM compared to what the average time is for most FIs.   

But the bottom line is that while collecting data is important, it’s how you use it that really matters.

Use data powerfully… but watch that fine line


The strength of data used correctly can yield remarkable results. But there’s a fine line between understanding your customers and getting too close for comfort with your targeting and there are things you can do to put them at ease. Being transparent about your data collecting is a good way to increase your customer’s trust in you especially if you also give them options to share their information and even offer them incentives to do so. It’ll put some of the power back into their hands.

Then let the priority of creating the ideal customer experience be your guiding force as you utilize the data to form strategies and make operational improvements.

Benchmarking is an ongoing way to understand customer engagement


Once you have the data you need, use it to help effectively benchmark your ITM services and operations. Benchmarking, comparing your FI’s performance data results against your competitors, is increasingly crucial to determine areas that need improvement and see any potential gaps in service.

And you should have plenty of data to determine why and how well your customers are using your ITMs. With it, you can see which types of transactions they’re completing the most, the length of time they spend for each, how often they need a teller’s assistance, the time of day they’re using your ITMs etc.  With this data you can understand average transaction times and how it compares to industry standards.  

For example, if you discover that a deposit transaction takes longer on average to complete at your ITMs compared to your competitors’ you can discover why—and there’s a chance that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe your customers are having better engagement with your ITM interacting with tellers—that will depend on the type of transaction and how much longer it’s taking. If they’re just withdrawing cash and it’s taking longer, then there’s likely a problem that needs to be addressed.

Either way, you have the insights you need to make changes and improve the all-important customer experience. Using it to guide your next steps, you can improve the effectiveness of your entire ITM channel—boosting your competitiveness. To gain the best benchmarking practices, a good investment may be hiring an outside expert who can give you comparative performance information—a benchmarking profile—on a large number of FIs so you can clearly see ITM usage trends, and how your ITM service stacks up. 

Many analytical tools have not evolved to effectively predict consumer needs post-COVID


Even in normal times, getting data and using it the right way is a challenge for any FI, but what about in the most challenging times, like during a pandemic? The truth is that COVID-19 has put a tremendous strain on data and analytics, making it hard to determine year-over-year performance and 2021 data trends aren’t any more reliable than they were last year. Part of the problem is that consumer behavior has shifted because of the pandemic, but where precisely every segment of the population lands in regard to their buying and financial preferences is still unknown.

But that doesn’t mean data analytics should not be able to handle changing conditions even on such a grand scale. Just as they do during relatively normal times, analytics should track conditions and changes that are occurring in real-time—including the ebbs and flows—to provide the insight you need to take appropriate action. So how do you strengthen your data and analytics to handle the difficult times?

A survey cited in a recent Forbes article suggested the following five ways to help:

  • Incorporate perishability into the processes of your analytics
  • Get a more complete picture by casting a bigger data net (use more sources like social media)
  • Make it three dimensional to assess perishability with data that is relevant, accurate and current
  • Constantly reassess data, particularly from digital sources like social media and the IoT
  • Ensure your analytics are agile so you can get information that’s quickly changing and may not even be known

If that feels overwhelming or you simply want help, there are ITM benchmarking experts you can turn to. They’ll take the most recent information based off your ITM engagement and utilize specific subject matter experts who can interpret the trends and create actionable insights. For example, they may be able to give you advice about adjusting when teller support is needed based on changing customer demands.

Related: Why banks must increase tech spend and invest in digital first

The currency market and its consumers are evolving even beyond COVID-driven behavior


One trend that FIs need to get on top of is how the currency market is going digital with cryptocurrency and be prepared to track how it affects their ITMs. In February, Bitcoin passed $50,000 for the first time as a part of a 260 percent rally that began in November 2020. Since then it has dropped, but it’s being adopted more and more by large organizations (like Paypal and Xbox). That’s led to an uptick in bitcoin ATMs that make it easier for consumers to buy bitcoin using their cash. So FIs may want to start planning on their ITMs to do the same.

Benchmarking can help you track customer behaviors and transactions to help guide future decisions, like whether to cash out bitcoins at your ITMs—or your ATMs for that matter. And with tellers less engaged in time consuming tasks they’re more available to process complex transactions that can offer you more data and insight to help guide your future strategies. 

There is something intrinsically important about using what you have


When you have a direct first-party data line serving your customers on a daily basis day or night, use it as a benchmarking goldmine. The insights you gain from your ITM can help you create the best customer experience, track trends even during challenging times and prepare your business for the future.

And you’ll have a very clear view of how your customers are using your ITM channel and make adjustments to meet their demands. That’ll go a long way in increasing their trust, especially when you’re transparent about your data collection—and they know that you’re using it for their benefit.

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