Expert Insight

Reconsidering the Branch: Tellerless Branch

One type of branch that is currently being put into operation by banks and credit unions around the country is the “tellerless” branch. These are akin to the self-check-out stations in supermarkets, in that a person can interact with the machine by themselves if they choose, or interact with a person if the need arises.

There are several ways in which this new model is being implemented. These tellerless branches tend to have one employee, or “concierge”, that greets customers and members at a desk near the entry and directs them to either a “smart ATM” or a member services area. The “smart ATM” allows members to make deposits, withdrawals, or transfers like an average ATM, but also allows for the member to talk to a teller in a remote location. The customer will be able to see the teller on screen and talk to them over a handset for privacy.

The remote tellers are either in a centralized location in another building (sometimes a great distance away) or in another room in the branch. The benefit of having the tellers in another building is that one call center can service many, or all, of the branches under one company. This allows for branches to have a full “virtual” staff during slow and busy periods, spreading resources where they are needed instead of having tellers waiting for customers to come in. For instance, if you have 3 traditional branches with 3 tellers each (9 tellers total), it may be possible to have 3 tellerless branches with 4 or 5 remote tellers (of course, your actual numbers would have to be determined by analyzing the usage in your branches!).

Unfortunately the start-up cost of setting up a remote call center and adding in the smart ATMs can be quite high, although it is believed at this time that the initial costs will be recovered through potentially lower operational costs (less payroll the more branches implement the system), through flexibility in site arrangements (potentially opens up opportunity for smaller branches, drive through only branches, and kiosks), and through freeing up branch staff to concentrate on increasing sales. It is still recommended that someone be on-site because the machines cannot currently deal with crumpled bills, issue debit cards, take coinage, or print checks or money orders.

It can also allow certain branches to have lobbies open 24 hours with (relatively) minimal security risk. Portions of the branch can be secured after hours, but still allow access to the machines with a 24 hour call center, or some machines can change to a “normal” ATM after hours. This added convenience can add to a customer base as more people need a bank or credit union that works on their hours, instead of having to take time during their own work days to complete transactions.

Tellerless branches also remove the need for a drive through window or deal drawer, and can be used for drive-throughs to eliminate the need for long pneumatic tubes for sites that cannot have the canopy close to the branch.

If you would like to discuss options for a new tellerless branch or renovating to a tellerless branch, contact Labarre Associates for more information about what we can offer you.