ATM technology is moving at warp speed, but making the transition takes time.

How to prepare staff for the next generation of ATM technology

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With apologies to Gene Roddenberry, the screenwriter who produced and created the "Star Trek" franchise, advanced terminals and ITMs represent "the next generation" of ATM technology. . In many ways, they've enabled banks and credit unions – and account holders by default – to boldly go where no self-service technology has gone before, through cutting-edge hardware and software. Roughly one-quarter of respondents to a recent ATM Marketplace study said that if they could improve only one aspect of their ATM channel, adding new features and functions would be their top choice. Advanced terminals and ITMs make this possible.

But just as legacy Trekkies had some difficulty accepting Jean-Luc Picard as the captain of the Starship USS Enterprise – preferring the no-nonsense management style of James T. Kirk – swapping out long-standing and reliable ATM equipment for state-of-the-art technology that's unfamiliar may not come easily, for your staff especially. Change by its very nature is difficult, even when the replacement is undeniably better by future proofing your financial institution and boosting revenues.

That's why it's important to ease your way into the technology transition so issues can be adequately answered and addressed early on, not later on. Here are a few suggestions for how to go about this sensitive process:

"You have to establish expectations and acknowledge that growing pains are normal."

Communicate, communicate, communicate
One of the biggest issues for staff – inside and outside the retail bank or financial industry realm – is a breakdown in communication. Whether personnel don't feel like they've been adequately prepared or improperly informed, miscommunication is routinely a leading reason for resistance to change. Thus, there needs to be a strategy in place months prior to advanced terminal installation to overcome – or, ideally, altogether avoid – concerns about technology that customers or staff may be uncomfortable using. In short, you have to establish expectations and acknowledge that growing pains are normal. How you go about this is up to you, whether it's through company-wide emails, text messages, one-on-one or in group meetings where questions and concerns can be addressed. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is consistent so you can modify your communication strategy accordingly.

Develop question-and-answer scripts
Part of the stress staff may feel as a result of the transition may be related to worry about how they'll address questions customers may have about operating new technology. After all, if they don't have a firm grasp of how the terminals work, how can they be of assistance to customers?

The best way to address this is by developing Q&A scripts that provide guidance on how to best answer the most common questions customers are likely to ask. Determine what these questions will be by reflecting on the ones you'd want answers to if the roles were reversed. Think of it as putting together a "Frequently Asked Questions" script. You may also want to develop an aggressive customer education program so account holders remain in the loop. Their questions can be used to develop your Q&A script.

Rely on your seasoned personnel for support
Understandably, those who are new to the fold may be the ones who are most reticent to using and explaining how to use advanced terminal and ITM technology. Turn to some of your seasoned leaders for help in how to best educate and train the rest of the staff. Some of your staff may be more "people people" than others in the way they can explain things to customers or personnel and empathize with what they may be having trouble with. You know their strengths and weaknesses, so rely on your best judgment when looking for support.  

Establish goals to incentivize learning
Even though it's important to be compassionate and understanding of the fact that change takes time, it's every bit as important to create a sense of urgency so personnel more fully appreciate that the company is operating on a timeline. Thus, consider introducing incentives. This may instill a certain motivation for staff to devote more of their energies to familiarizing themselves with the advanced terminals. Remember, repetition is the mother of learning.

Advanced terminals and ITMs just might be the final frontier of automation technology in banking. Let BranchServ be your north star. We have the equipment, advice and support that can chart your course into the future and beyond. Please contact us to learn more.