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Cook Solutions Group

How to convert your fleet from ATM to ITM in 3 easy steps

October 13, 2021

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Nearly 10 years ago, I sat down across the table from Gene Pranger, inventor of interactive teller machines (ITMs) and video banking, interviewing for a job while completing my college education. I loved his passion for the community financial space. At the time, big National financial institutions were growing at such a rapid pace that the community financial institutions were struggling to keep up.

His vision was to find a way for these community and regional banks and credit unions to grow their footprint with a small amount of capital, without sacrificing the face-to-face interaction that makes them great, and truly differentiate themselves from national banks. Additionally, how can we find a way to allow the existing branches to become profitable as branch traffic saw year over year declines on average without sacrificing the consumer experience? I was ecstatic to join the cause and couldn’t wait to start making a difference.

Fast forward and NCR announced the acquisition of uGenius, to add ITMs as part of their portfolio. This gave ITMs the visibility and platform now to be globally recognized, among several other great resources to mature the product. Inadvertently, ITMs started to be sold and implemented the wrong way. Some saw the technology as a super ATM or an ATM with video chat instead of a teller platform capable of doing so much more.

This made a simple product overly complex, competition started to arise to match the growth NCR was seeing, and clouded the strategy that was initially conceived. Incomplete planning and training lead to unsatisfactory deployments and negative reviews of the product.

After 4 years of helping to educate the market and working with financial institutions of all different sizes all across the country, I decided enough was enough. We had to get back to the vision. We had to pause and get the process right to match a great technology the market desperately needed.

When I met Brian Cook and Randy Neu at Cook Security Group (CSG), I felt as if I was back in Gene’s office with people that cared more about the experience than just making money. Here we had a recipe to partner with the manufacturers on the technology but put a unique twist around the deployment and strategy, which in turn would provide a holistic approach once again that the market deserved.

Convert from ATM to ITM in 3 easy steps

Step 1: Understand the ITM Solution and how it fits into your FI market strategy.

ITMs are not ATMs. An ITM strategy is a branch strategy and when deployed as such can have an amazing impact on your institution. I can’t blame anyone for this, but it happens when you go from a sales force of 3 to 5,000 overnight the important details get lost.

It took years to educate the market on what an ITM is and how it can work. Joining this with other third-party reviews, it has taken time for everyone to grasp what video banking is capable of doing.

To make things worse other competitors hit the marketplace as well with confusing strategies that all got lumped into the “ITM” category. CSG, for example, offers a free strategy workshop by trained, experienced professionals that can help you know what the right technology for you and your consumers is before spending a penny.

Step 2: Reduced Costs, investment is no longer the hurdle.

You know this is the direction you want to go but now how do you afford it? In the early years, this was a major expense hurdle for the community and regional FI’s. From unit cost, to professional fees, to call center integration. It was complex. Again, this is where CSG took a complex problem and made it simple and more affordable by taking pieces of the overall solution and developing ways to reduce the cost and improve the experience.

CSG provides in-house trainers that will hold your hand throughout the implementation process, offer the right check imaging solution for your needs, custom branding screens, proper video call center set up, and success criteria tracking to ensure consumer adoption. Over the past 5 years entry costs have been reduced by 68%. This translates to an average savings of $150,000 dollars in upfront expense per FI.

In addition, ITM units themselves have come way down in price with volume bundling programs. Finally, you would be surprised at the dramatic decrease in operational expenses by reducing FTE and often the branch footprint. What appeared to be expensive, now becomes a path to an increased bottom line!

Step 3: Complete and Execute the Implementation

So many times, over the years I saw community financial institutions left to just figure it out after buying the hardware and software for an ITM. Not knowing the entire picture or left with questions on how to complete the infrastructure needed for a successful deployment outside the machines themselves added too many variables and resulted in failed deployments.

Learning valuable and expensive lessons at the cost of the consumer base and employees is unacceptable 16 years into this journey. By scheduling the strategy workshop and outlining the implantation plan in detail, CSG can take you to the finish line beyond the machines to ensure a complete deployment that accomplishes your goals defined early into your discovery process.

Traditional ITM branch

If the pandemic taught us anything, it has shown how valuable a solid plan around consumer engagement can be. We have also seen how adaptable your consumers are to technology that we initially didn’t believe they would adopt. Whether you have looked at ITMs in the past or have never entertained the idea, I’d suggest investing an hour of your time to educate yourself and your team on ITMs by someone at CSG. It is my promise you will be glad you did.

A quick recap:

  • Host your strategy workshop.
  • Identify your conversion locations and timeline.
  • Execute your implantation plan.

It can be this easy!