Teller Capture for Improving the Branch Experience

Statistics show that bank networks in the U.S. are shrinking, with 2,267 branches closing in 2012 alone, according to SNL Financial. The closures can primarily be attributed to technology advancements including mobile and online banking, as well as the increasing use of image-enabled ATMs.

This notion that branches are slowly but surely disappearing could be intimidating to some bankers with a huge investment in brick-and-mortar but there’s a strong argument to be made for the branch’s strategic value in servicing customers. The question then becomes: how can we make the branch more relevant?

Clearly, each new banking platform that emerges offers a new avenue for consumers to avoid the bank branch. Mobile banking, for example, offers customers more convenience and flexibility to quickly access accounts or deposit checks. But the truth is most customers also like the face-to-face interaction they experience at the bank branch. In fact, according to a 2012 Novantas survey, 53% percent of consumers polled said they would rather go into a bank branch to do their banking.

Examples of when a trip to the branch might prove necessary include your need to deposit a large dollar amount or multi-check transaction. Most mobile, consumer and merchant applications restrict the amount of items and dollar total that can be deposited in a transaction and include daily, weekly or monthly limits. Or, let’s say the ATM could not dispense the amount of cash you need for a trip due to daily limits. We haven’t even mentioned loans, certificates of deposit and other banking services that require a trip to the branch. Mobile channels are great for simple transactions, but are they a fit for all?

Now that we’ve established a purpose for branches, let’s make clear one expectation: Customers want a speedy experience when they are at the bank. Think about our society’s dependence on the ability to have information at the speed of lightning, directions or the weather forecast from our smartphone and the emergence of same-day delivery. Banking is no different.

One way to deliver on that customer expectation of immediate service in the branch is through teller capture solutions, a process in which checks are imaged at the teller line. Customers no longer need to write out a deposit slip or loan payment; those documents are created virtually through the teller capture application. And, while the technology does all of the work on the backend, the bank teller has more “heads up” time with the customer, providing more opportunity to answer any questions they may have and potentially cross-sell additional products and services.

The bank also achieves significant cost savings. Consider that the cost of an average paper ticket is 10 cents. This includes the paper ticket, storage and transportation of the tickets to the branches. With teller capture, none of this is applicable. For the bank, teller capture allows branches to reduce their operational footprint while gaining efficiencies and reducing costs. another step closer toward the “paperless branch.”

Ms. Garvin is a product manager at Mosinee, Wisc.-based WAUSAU Financial Systems. She can be reached at [email protected].