The gift dispensing ATM: adding the personal touch to banking

By : Colin Gordon

There are over 250 different models of ATMs installed around the globe with a total install base of 2.6M ATMs. The majority of these ATMs now do a lot more than just dispense cash. Check and cash deposit as well as video enabled ATMs are two examples of further functionality being offered by ATMs. A bank in Canada has recently offered something completely different by taking ATM functionality to a whole new level by handing out gifts to its' customers.


The Canadian Bank brought squeals of delight from a handful of lucky customers as it treated them with personalized gifts from its' specially designed ATM (Automated Thanking Machine).


Carefully chosen loyal customers were invited in to branches across the country to test out a ‘new’ type of ATM. Instead, they were surprised to find the novel ATM spoke to them and dispensed gifts, ranging from trips to Disneyland to $50 bills “on the house.” One Toronto Blue Jays fan got a team uniform and met his hero player, José Bautista, who walked into the bank at just the right moment.


All this was caught on video, with the footage already racking up more than six million YouTube views. Although a fantastic PR stunt, it clearly shows that ‘real world’ interactive ATMs have real potential in terms of variety of transactions they now offer. Customer interaction with banks is also changing and the move towards more self-service as part of the branch experience is now reflecting this.


One of the most important takeaways from the Automated Thanking Machine is to demonstrates how banks can personalize the experience for their customers through key branch interactions and at the ATM.


One further example showed a woman receiving flight tickets to Trinidad to visit her daughter who is suffering from cancer. Just how the bank tellers were able to hone in on this customer and that particular gift shows the vital role that personalization and face-to-face interactions still play in the banking experience.


Another woman, who has not been able to take her kids anywhere due to lack of money, broke down in tears as she was treated to a family vacation to Disneyland and $1,000 towards each of her children’s college funds. That is one customer not about to switch banks quickly!


The video highlights how customer loyalty and data insights matter a lot.  Be it transaction types or where people are spending their money, all of this can be tracked by the bank’s computers to provide customer insights. You’re also never going to get to know your customers at this kind of detailed level without that human touch.


This video also shows how, in the case of the Canadian bank, that the branch is still a very important channel in serving the customer.  The staff in the branch knew their customers so well that they were easily able to identify who they felt would be deserving and excited by the opportunity of gift dispensing at the ATM.


Banks and the financial technology industry can learn a lot from this - personalization clearly can transform the customer experience, with the ATM and branch combining to play an important role to play in this.

Colin Gordon

Financial Services SelfServ, Marketing Manager

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Colin Gordon is a Global ATM Marketing Manager based at NCR’s R&D Center in Dundee, Scotland. Colin is responsible for the marketing of NCR’s financial hardware portfolio with a specific focus on activities such as demand generation, sales enablement, market analysis and customer engagements for the ATM business.