What Is Branch Automation?

Branch automation is a form of banking automation that connects the customer service desk in a bank office with the bank's customer records in the back office. Banking automation refers to the system of operating the banking process by highly automatic means so that human intervention is reduced to a minimum. Branch automation is also referred to as platform automation.

Key Takeaways

  • Branch automation allows for centralized customer service that can easily pull customer records from any bank branch.
  • Due to ease of record retrieval, other tasks are also made more efficient, such as new account or loan applications and some teller services.
  • Branch automation is increasingly useful as a way to maintain foot traffic in physical locations as trends toward mobile and e-banking continue to rise.

How Branch Automation Works

Linking the customer service desk with customer records enables branch account officers to book new loan applications directly with the bank's loan processing system, and also permits faster look-up of customer account information to answer questions on rates, new services and so on. Branch automation in bank branches also speeds up the processing time in handling credit applications, because paperwork is reduced.

Increasing branch automation also reduces the need for human tellers to staff bank branches. Personal Teller Machines (PTMs) can help branch customers perform any banking task that a human teller can, including requesting printed cashier’s checks or withdrawing cash in a range of denominations.

Branch automation can also streamline routine transactions, giving human tellers more time to focus on helping customers with complex needs. For example, customers can take routine but time-consuming transactions, such as depositing large amounts of coins, to a self-service coin counting machine, which automates the coin-counting process and provides the customer with a redemption receipt to present to the human teller. This leads to a faster, more pleasant and more satisfying experience for both teller and customer, as well as reducing inconvenience for other customers waiting to speak to the teller.

Reducing Branch Footprint Through Automation

With the increasing use of mobile deposits, direct deposits and online banking, many banks find that customer traffic to branch offices is declining. Nevertheless, many customers still want the option of a branch experience, especially for more complex needs such as opening an account or taking out a loan. Increasingly, banks are relying on branch automation to reduce their branch footprint, or the overall costs of maintaining branches, while still providing quality customer service and opening branches in new markets.

Banks like Bank of America have opened fully automated branches that allow customers to conduct banking business at self-service kiosks, with videoconferencing devices that allow them to speak to off-site bankers. In some fully automated branches, a single teller is on duty to troubleshoot and answer customer questions. Fully automated banking aims to completely streamline and digitize transactions from the front to the back office, cutting out middle-office paper handling for banking transactions of all types, from opening and closing accounts, to taking out mortgages and other loans.