Branch automation is, generally, the process of increasing mechanization within the branch of a bank or at a bank location. This has traditionally involved the use of machines and computer systems such as automated teller machines (ATMs) that allow customers to utilize self-service options rather than interactions with people. Such automation can sometimes be resisted by customers or viewed as a reduction in personal attention from those employed by the bank. Branch automation, however, typically increases the amount of time and effort tellers and other branch employees can spend with customers, as it reduces time spent on simpler transactions.
The process of branch automation usually begins at a corporate level for most banks, and the decision to increase the use of computers and automated machines within the branches of the bank. In some areas this process can be tested at one or two locations before being implemented on a wider scale, which allows for bugs in the system to be found more quickly and can work to ensure customer satisfaction before broader implementation. While branch automation often implies the incorporation of ATMs and similar machines into a bank branch, it can also include greater use of computers and networks or the Internet to improve services offered by the bank.
For example, a bank might use branch automation to make the process of applying for and receiving a loan faster and easier for customers. This could include anything from simply using computers to process applications faster and reduce paperwork, to having kiosks that allow customers with an account to more quickly enter an application for a loan without consulting with a staff member. The incorporation of ATMs into banks through branch automation has been resisted in some areas, but typically proves to increase customer service and time available to human tellers for working with customers.
When simple tasks, such as straightforward deposits and withdrawals, can be handled by machines, then the more complex tasks can be left to employees. By reducing the amount of work that tellers may typically be expected to handle, branch automation can increase the amount of time that tellers have to work with bank members. This generally leads to greater customer satisfaction and an increased chance for customers to recommend the bank to others. Bank automation can also provide services to customers even outside of regular banking hours and on holidays, through the use of systems such as ATMs at external locations.