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Why Tellers Still Matter

The role of frontline staff will be enhanced by new technology, not replaced by it.

Consumers today have multiple options for processing transactions. Depending on their financial services provider, they can make deposits from their smartphone, transfer money usingtext message, get automated alerts when their account integrity is compromised, make deposits at an ATM, manage their finances from an iPad, open accounts on the Internet, and muchmore.

New self-service channels are among the top reasons why many of the largest banks in the country have been closing branches. And the expansion of self-service will only continue at a faster pace as the reality of advanced hardware and infrastructure catches up to the promise of new services such as the mobile wallet.

Has The Teller Become Obsolete?
The premise behind this question ? can interaction with a machine replace interaction with a person? ? is reminiscent of a recent Esurance campaign: People when you want them.Technology when you don’t. It’s true that the expanded access, convenience, and options offered by new self-service banking options are all tangible andunique benefits that replace some of the functions traditionally performed by tellers and call centers. But the day when smartphones, ATMs, or tabletsreplace tellers completely is far off into the future.

Why? Because there are still a multitude of actions that should be performed in the branch and as well as a plethora of members who, like Esurance claims, want to interact with employees who represent the brand.

While bank tellers have not become obsolete, their role has certainly shifted from transaction-based to relationship-based.

Teller-Based Transactions Are Declining
A recent study from Financial Management Systems, Inc. citesa 40% decline in teller transactions over the past 20 years.

Image courtesy of FMSI

But despite a fairly consistent decline in the volume (with the exception of Internet-only banks) tellers are still some of the only people at the branch with whom visitors interact frequently.

Often, the teller is the person who engages new members when they are opening an account. The teller is also the one tasked with identifying and selling new products like CDs, credit cards,and loans to members. And when there is a problem and the member walks into the branch to resolve it, they usually speak to the teller first.

The Importance Of Checks At The Teller Line
The most common type of transactions performed at the teller line involves checks (accounting for up to 90% of transactionsin some cases, according to a report published by Celent). This means that financial institutions need to continue improving teller line operations, especially those involving check deposits.One of the most impactful technologies affecting check deposits is Check 21-enabled teller capture.

The right Check 21 solution can minimize check losses, protect members from fraudulent payments, and reduce operating costs across the credit unions branch network.

Over 70% of financial institutions nationwide have implemented some form of check image capture at the branch level, but only about a third of institutions have deployed teller capture.This trend will shift as executives realize the initial investment in scanners, software, and training is small when compared to the benefits of counterfeit item reduction, the ability to correctly apply extended holds to deposits, the eliminationof teller overtime and exception handling, and the capabilities for real-time duplicate detection.

Learn more about leveraging emerging technology to transform your teller line operations. Watch Bluepoint’s free webinar Keys to Improving Teller Efficiency featuring Financial Management Systems, Inc. (FMSI), an industry leader providing management tools to institutions for over 20 years. Click here to watch this webinar on-demand now.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
April 29, 2014

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