Monday, March 24, 2008

ATM Machines As A Sales Channel

How many times one has deleted that email offering that free gold credit card or a pre-approved loan? How many times one has curtly disconnected the phone call from another tele-caller with a pre-approved check for that awesome holiday in Hawaii? In a market, where retail banks have exhausted almost all the channels to reach the target customers, ATM machines can be a powerful alternative for cross-selling. ATM machines also provide the opportunity to reach out to the otherwise difficult to reach customers such as expats.

So, how would it work? Almost every bank has pre-approved offers for certain customers. The bank can load the offers for some of the pre-approved customers to the server that interacts with the ATM machines. The moment the ATM recognizes a preapproved customer, it can show her the pre-approved offer through a blinker or an additional screen at the end of the transaction. If the customer is willing to go ahead with the offer, all she needs to do is to press “Y”. The moment she presses “Y”, the bank gets notified and can track the lead through different mechanisms. For example, an SMS can go to the sales manager nearest to that ATM with the customer detail, who can take up the matter further.

Surely, it’s not as easy as it sounds. While the technology for such a process is available in the market, it’s still a challenge to implement it. Prediction accuracy is another big challenge.

· It is not feasible to upload the entire set of pre-approved offers to the server. And hence the need for a model, which can forecast with high accuracy the probability of a customer visiting a cash machine.

· Each ATM screen on an average takes 5-7 seconds, which includes the time taken to interact with the server. So, the time to pitch the offers must be chosen judiciously, especially for locations with long customer queues. But restriction of timing will in turn affect the prediction accuracy.

· The ATM cannot close the sell. The completion of the process depends on further integrations of channels.

Nevertheless, ATMs can still be used as an excellent channel and in the near future itself, with the advent of technology, it can be expected to be one of the primary channels.

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