By : Colin Gordon
December 16, 2015 08:09 AM
The ATM is a key part of omni-channel banking and these days it’s even used as a marketing tool in its own right as consumers expect consistent service across all channels.
Santander very recently highlighted the importance of the ATM by turning it into an ‘Astonishing Treat Machine’ within one of its UK branches, dispensing Christmas-themed tasks and gifts to bemused customers.
British Olympic gold medal winner Jessica Ennis-Hill, who is a brand ambassador for the bank along with golfer Rory McIlroy, was hidden inside the machine speaking to customers and dishing out tasks to complete.
Wrapped gifts and envelopes of cash were then dispensed to the lucky customers who stopped in at the branch in the town of Barnsley, close to the athlete's home town of Sheffield in the UK.
It mimics a similar ATM-based stunt last Christmas by Santander involving another one of the bank’s ambassadors, former Formula One world champion Jenson Button. For this, customers were invited to press the machine’s Jenson ‘button’ that would open a hatch revealing the driver bearing £100 in cash as a gift.
One of the best known examples of this kind of marketing was by Canada’s TD Bank, which installed a number of ‘Automated Thanking Machines’ in one of their branches so it could dispense gifts to customers. In the case of TD Bank, these were highly-personalized items - such as plane tickets for one woman to visit relatives in the Caribbean.
While all of these are light-hearted marketing activities and clearly nothing directly linked to ATM functionality, they do strike at one of the most important aspects of branch banking and its continued relevance in the modern digital-led world: human interaction still matters. This is something that has been key to the Interactive Banker or Interactive Teller ATMs from NCR, for example, where full or assisted service with a human and the ATM help customers.
As TD Bank pointed out, “a personal connection remains important to consumers.” The ongoing strength of branches lies in the fact that face-to-face contact is still an essential part of the banking experience.
Chris Stamper, senior vice president of corporate marketing for TD Bank, told Today.com: “The folks in our branch networks know their customers so well that they were easily able to identify who they felt would be deserving and excited by the opportunity.”
Whilst this example from Santander may be a bit different, what it does show is migrating routine transactions away from the teller counter can still provide the consumer with an amazing experience. This benefits banks also through the combined benefits of lower processing costs, faster transactions and increased opportunities for product sales and revenue growth. It would seem that the ATM, in whatever shape or form will still will be important now and into the future.