For some of you out there, the idea of a bank without teller lines might sound absolutely nuts. After all, branch customers rely on teller lines. When they visit their local branch, they expect teller lines. For the longest time, it’s been unimaginable for a bank branch to operate without them.

But there was also a time when a local office couldn’t imagine getting anything done without a fax machine.

When industries change, new technologies and new ways of accomplishing the same tasks are introduced. And in those times, there are businesses that immediately adapt to what’s new, businesses that slowly dip their toes in the pool of new technology, and businesses that cling to the old ways of doing things until they can’t any longer.

Branch Functionality and Teller Lines

Realizing the value in shifting away from traditional teller lines requires a look into the ways customers have changed their approach to banking. Access to growing technologies enables them to process transactions from the comfort of wherever they are located. Anyone with a smartphone has access to a bank teller virtually any time of day.

With the increase in digital banking used for day-to-day transactions, the number of times a customer visits a physical branch to do a transaction is on the decline. A customer who relies on digital banking technology may only visit a brick-and-mortar location a couple of times a year.

But that means those few visits matter a lot more.

Optimizing Branch Visits

The days when bank customers made routine visits to their local branch are on the decline. One, two, or three visits a year is becoming the norm for younger generations, but those few visits are especially important for multiple reasons.

First, you have fewer opportunities to provide customers with a good experience. A poor experience has the ability to tip the scales further than it would have a few years ago. Plus, you have fewer opportunities to educate customers about your additional services.

The younger generations will eventually need home loans, small business loans, and other banking services that they might not know they need right now. The key to ensuring this demographic accesses those services from your branch has quite a bit to do with teller lines.

Trustone Financial_Concierge Station

The Bank Teller is Evolving

Technology isn’t the only thing evolving within the financial industry. Another key area to pay attention to is the bank teller themselves. In a time when day-to-day transactions are more common than analog approaches, suddenly bank teller duties aren’t what they used to be.

But when we ask you to consider getting rid of teller lines, we aren't asking you to consider getting rid of your tellers! Bank tellers typically have the most interaction with bank customers, and carry a huge responsibility to deliver an experience that keeps customers coming back.

The current trend isn’t getting rid of tellers, it’s increasing their training and capabilities.

Bank Teller Duties Are Growing

Without the need to process transaction after transaction, bank tellers can lend their time toward helping customers meet a wider range of banking needs — so much so that the title “teller” doesn’t really do them justice. “Universal banker” has a better ring to it, don’t you think?

Universal bankers are bank employees who work with customers on more in-depth needs and process transactions in the branch desk area.

The universal banker blurs the line between bank teller and desk worker. The current trend has a lot to do with educating tellers to expand the ways in which they can meet customer needs.

Tellers have always played a pivotal role in branch success, and by becoming universal bankers, they can continue that tradition by offering customers guidance on additional bank services.

What About the Bank Teller Lines?

When a bank’s teller line isn’t providing a service their customers want or need, what's a bank to do? For those designing new branches, it’s a simple switch to forego traditional teller lines. For already existing branches, getting rid of teller lines can open up a new opportunity to add something else that’ll provide an improved customer experience, such as a concierge station, transactional banker station, or a stand-up / sit-down station.

Photo of bank teller area

Lots of banks have a bit of unused space here and there, especially those that have been operating for a number of years. Choosing to remodel an existing branch to eliminate teller lines and optimize unused space can be a winning strategy for those looking to optimize branch performance.

While dedicated teller lines used to be a must-have component of local branches, the banking customers of today and tomorrow see things differently.

Universal bankers have the skills and capabilities to meet the growing list of needs bank customers have for their local branch — and getting rid of teller lines can help you get your branch (and your employees) to a place where it can meet those needs.

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Published on August 05, 2019

Topics: New Construction, Bank Design, Remodel, Bank Architecture, How to Start a Bank