How ATM as a Service positively impacts business outcomes

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Effectively running a fleet of ATMs is an integral part of your financial institution’s (FI) success. However, for many FIs, the increasing costs to support the fleet, along with aging technology, can make it feel like you are throwing good money after bad. NCR’s ATM as a Service takes this challenge head-on, offering an innovative, curated solution suite that gives FIs the peace of mind they need so that they can refocus their efforts on other mission critical activities.

In our “ATM as a Service: From Why to Why Not” article, we touched on the overall benefits of this solution to include how ATMaaS can assist FIs in accelerating and maintaining digital transformation in the wake of the pandemic. Now, digging further into the key business drivers for ATMaaS, our team shares deeper insights into the positive impacts to business performance which FIs achieve as a result of implementing ATMaaS.

ATMaaS is designed with those key business drivers in mind, from improving customer experience, ATM security and uptime, to freeing up resources and reducing operating costs. By outsourcing the end-to-end management of your ATM fleet, you can bring the focus back to your core strengths such as improving your customer or member experience while retaining and attracting new customers along the way.

Predictive cost models help FIs optimize spending

NCR is the world’s enterprise technology leader for restaurants, retailers, and banks. As such, NCR not only creates solutions that deliver tangible results, but also develops these solutions to be consumed ‘as a service’. The ability to consolidate operational costs into a single, predictable monthly payment is a key benefit to moving to a services-led approach.

The traditional ATM model typically requires that FIs purchase the ATM hardware upfront. The capital expenses associated with a purchase can range from a few thousand for basic functionality to tens of thousands for top-of-the-line, multi-function technology. Add to that the costs associated with ongoing support such as cash management activities, maintenance, and software updates needed to address security and compliance issues. FIs can often face mounting and unplanned expenses each month, driving up the overall total cost of ownership to run the fleet.

ATMaaS allows FIs to predict what their monthly ATM spend will be, giving them much greater confidence in how they can use their budget dollars elsewhere. Cost optimization is top of mind for FIs, regardless of scale: “Our customers are more open to ATM as a Service because cost reduction and cost optimization will always be among their top five priorities. In the U.S., certainly with the smaller deployers, it’s probably number one,” says Richard Fortune, Senior Consulting Partner, NCR.

The pandemic made effectively managing costs even more important. “During COVID, many of our customers had to pour their energy and effort into how to best serve their member’s through investments in self-service, mobile, and digital channels. These types of investments were where our customer’s spent the lion’s share of their dollars and resources,” said Kristina Kazlausky, NCR’s Strategic Deals Sales Leader, “so many financial institutions, especially the smaller FIs, just do not have the resources to support the ATM channel while addressing other critical business issues. They know the ATM fleet is something that they need to have to be accessible and competitive, but issues that arise during the operations of the fleet can make it very difficult to manage from a cost and customer experience perspective.”

ATMaaS frees up both capital and human resources so that these limited resources can be repurposed in the bank. The ‘as a service’ approach includes NCR owning the ATM on the customer’s behalf, and through a standard reference architecture, costs are consolidated and optimized allowing the overall total cost of ownership to be minimized. “Cash management is a very large part of the overall operational spend for running an ATM fleet. With ATMaaS, we take the burden of managing the relationship with cash-in-transit (CIT) provider for our customers, own the contract on their behalf, and then leverage tools like cash forecasting to ensure that there is the appropriate amount of cash available at the ATM for their cardholders,” Kazlausky continued.

ATM as a Service is a complete package designed to alleviate the operational stresses and financial strain of managing an ATM fleet. By outsourcing the self-service channel to NCR, FIs have far greater predictability; they know what they are spending each month, so they can manage that gap in resources and capital dollars optimally.

Better machines create better customer experiences

Much of how a consumer perceives a financial institution comes from their experience at the ATM. Are the machines well maintained and available to perform the transactions? Do they offer the right combination of features and functionality? Consistency and innovation go hand in hand in making a complete and impactful experience across your entire ATM fleet and beyond.

Kazlausky identifies that this kind of consistency across the fleet is a key aspect of creating an outstanding ATM experience, with disparity having the opposite impact. “Most FIs want to ensure their customers/members have a consistent and positive experience at any and all of their branded ATMs”. However, guaranteeing that every ATM appears and acts as designed is an enormous task, especially as the fleet ages and internal resources are stretched.

ATMaaS answers this by delivering alignment across the fleet, bringing cohesion and uplifting the brand in the eyes of consumers. “A consistent view across the fleet is really important from a customer experience perspective. The way the ATMs need to look and perform as part of a financial institution’s ecosystem is incredibly important to brand perception and customer loyalty.” Kazlausky concluded.

Scott Credit Union, for example, saw member satisfaction soar as a direct result of NCR taking control of their fleet. ATMaaS also puts them in a position to roll out future upgrades, new services and enhanced transaction capabilities quickly and effectively, which aside from the physical optics of the fleet, is a core determiner of the ATM customer experience.

Klaus Giljohann, Global Leader of Self-service Reinvention, cites agility as a primary advantage for ATMaaS customers. “We can deliver new features, functions and changes to the fleet much faster than traditional banks because they need to coordinate many suppliers. So, the consumers experience better screens, the newest functionality—for example, biometrics, better transaction flow, mobile wallet, or others—much more quickly.”

The solution also provides a very stable network, with NCR handling everything on the backend. Familiarity with the systems and the ability to identify and solve issues quickly means potential technology problems never become visible to the cardholders.

ATMaaS extends the customer experience beyond just ATMs, too. “Our architecture is multi-channel, meaning it can support mobile banking, internet banking, digital banking, or anything else. For example, you could start a loan application on your mobile device, complete the middle steps with internet banking, then finalize the transaction using an interactive teller machine or ATM with a signature pad on it,” said Giljohann.

The combination of a well-maintained fleet, the ability to launch new innovations and features quickly and securely, alongside the flexibility in meeting consumers at any touchpoints all serve to elevate the end-to-end ATM customer experience.

Tailor-made solutions keep FIs ahead of the competition

The financial industry can be volatile, and there are constant pressures to adopt new trends and avenues to explore. With ATMaaS, knowing what’s happening in your market and routinely optimizing your ATM strategy will keep you ahead of the curve.

NCR’s ATMaaS is designed to uniquely address the unpredictability that can sometime arise in the care and feeding of an ATM fleet. One customer in Tennessee, for instance, was in a tough spot when their ATM network was completely knocked out by a tornado. In response, NCR shared a business continuity plan (specific to that customer) that would enable them to avoid service and operational interruptions regardless of the conditions, an advantage the competition would not have.

A tornado is of course an exceptional case, but this situation gives a good sense of how flexible solutions can counteract ATM challenges regardless of what they may be. “On a bi-annual basis, our experts sit with the customer to really look at what’s happening in the market. We look very specifically at their environment and use that data to show the customer: ‘This is what we know is happening in your self-service channel and within your peer group. This is what’s happening in the market. As part of our going commitment, we make recommendations that can ultimately help you stay ahead of the competition,’” says Kazlausky.

These purpose built solutions mean ATMaaS benefits can apply at any size as well. The investment in infrastructure required to run a fleet of 50 ATMs is very different from running 10,000, so careful consideration is needed to make sure the solution makes sense at scale. Kazlausky added that “moving to our outcome-based service model is something that many customers are interested in, but ‘how’ that happens is an area where our professional services team would come into the picture to help design the most optimal transition and transformation plan based on the customer’s priorities, size and scale.”

According to Klaus Giljohann, tailor-made solutions and ongoing support are the essences of what keeps ATMaaS customers ahead of their competitors. “The customer can tell us what they need, then we will implement, deploy and operate those solutions. This gives customers streamlined access to all of the tools NCR has to offer, something that traditional banks lack. That could mean setting up a new marketing campaign or functionality—whatever the customer needs,” he finished.

ATMaaS lets you focus on your core strengths—and drive growth for your business

ATMaaS empowers FIs to put their efforts into what they know best, delighting customers, with peace of mind that their self-service channel will contribute to growth for their business. Allowing FIs to focus on their own strengths means better financial performance, better customer experience, and better business outcomes across the board.

“Bankers know banking. They know how to align products and services to customer needs. But they are not experts with ATMs or how to manage a network, so they want to stay within their sweet spot. With so much competition, FIs want to focus on catering to their customers,” remarks Anita Robinson, Leader of Banking Transformation Practice at NCR.

“With divided loyalties in terms of trying to manage technologies and networks, it takes away from the focus on their core business. So, one of the big drivers is really a need to focus on the core business and outsource ATM activities to those who can manage it best,” she concluded.

Financial institutions can finally go forward confident that their ATMs are a business driver, rather than a liability, with ATMaaS. Stay tuned!