The United States is facing a workforce shortage. While this comes as no surprise as it was predicted to happen with the Baby Boomer generation beginning a mass retirement exodus, the anticipated employment problem is far worse than anyone ever imagined. With a whopping 4.53 million workers quitting their jobs in March 2022 – just as over 65 percent of adults 65-74 retired, the result is a wide-spread need for labor. And this is putting extreme pressure on employers to provide attractive work environments, opportunities for advancement and enhanced benefits.
However, even financial institutions making the most aggressive moves to hire are finding it difficult to keep their employees. Turnover rates have increased 35 percent year-over-year. In the face of such grueling staffing woes and increased demands for convenience, technology is providing credit unions with a solution in the form of the transformative Interactive Teller Machine (ITM).
What can an ITM do?
ITMs aren’t just a fancy, cool-looking ATMs. Nor are they deposit-taking machines with video capabilities. They are full-function, self-service banking technology designed to appeal to the growing number of technologically dependent consumers who prefer to handle most transactions through self-service channels (think mobile application and online banking users).
That same self-service appeal offers a variety of benefits for credit unions, including:
- Positioning your Credit Union as an Innovator in the Marketplace – ITMs look fancy and new, which reflects well on your credit union.
- Reducing the Cost of Traditional Transactions – The average cost of a standard branch transaction is around $4.50. Because ITMs move a great deal of those interactions to a self-service model, they have been shown to lower costs by as much as 85 percent. And 80-90 percent of transactions typically performed by a teller can be done at the ITM, including:
- Cash and multi-check deposits
- Loan payments
- Mixed-denominational withdrawals
- Check cashing (down to the penny)
- Reducing or even Removing the Need for a Drive-Through Tube Systems – ITMs allow teller interactions while providing a secure machine to hold check and cash deposits. A small grouping of ITMs can easily replace a cumbersome vacuum system. This is incredibly convenient for properties that may have trouble providing drive-thru services directly attached to the branch.
- Replace Underperforming Branches – It has been a trend to place small branches in business partner offices, malls, hospitals or grocery stores. However, staffing those locations or even underperforming full-service locations is even more of a challenge today. Placing an ITM or group of ITMs can provide the same level of personalized service without additional staff. And ITMs run on a credit union’s core system like the set-up for mobile banking. So, the member experience is seamless.
Do consumers use ITMs?
The short answer is “yes.” Recent studies report banks and credit unions that have implemented ITMs already have plans to install more. Over half of financial institution decision makers say any concerns they had about the return on their ITM investment was resolved quickly after deployment. And consumers use these handy machines in a variety of ways. Sixty-eight percent of ITM users report using them for deposits and withdrawals. Forty percent use the ITM for credit card payments and over a quarter use ITMs to open new credit accounts.
It should come as no surprise that today’s consumers take to ITMs easily. Between regular video conferencing for work and being forced to manage finances, bills and other home needs digitally during the pandemic, experts predict consumers will continue to view ITMs with increasing favorability and a significant uptick in ITM usage is anticipated over the next few years.
But how do ITMs solve staffing issues?
Typically, the use of an interactive teller machine allows credit unions to close underperforming branches while extending hours beyond the usual 9 to 5 with the promise of access to a teller, if needed.
Rather than eliminating branch staff, most credit unions take this as a call to re-invent their staffing structure. But with a more significant portion of transactions being handled through self-service, ITMs can help foster an environment where employees active at the branch during regular hours are able to take more time helping members – answering questions and building stronger relationships.
But ITMs don’t just allow a lower number of employees to maintain branch services, they allow credit unions to extend hours through their ongoing 24/7 operations. And their ability to verify deposit and withdrawal amounts decrease the amount of time spent balancing, counting and recounting cash.
Bottom line, ITMs are not just fancy, cool-looking ATMs. Nor are they deposit-taking ATMs with video capabilities. ITMs are a full-function option that has the potential to change how your branch(s) do business altogether … and tackle staff issues without losing the convenience members expect.