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Bank Teller Trapped Inside ATM, Lives to Tell Tale

Dollar Bank is very excited about putting the person inside the machine. "The PTMs will improve our customer service by permitting Dollar Bank customers the convenience of extended hours of service six days a week, while providing personal teller services through a machine," said Robert Oeler, president and CEO of Dollar Bank in a release. "Customers will have the confidence of knowing they are speaking with a real Dollar Bank employee when they make a deposit or request a bank service through the PTM. That is an exciting new service for our industry."

The bank has already assigned a customer service representative to stand by the machine and offer help in using the PTM (the same sort of logic that applies to having a live grocery store checkout person stand next to the self-checkout machine and serve as your checkout person when you can't figure out why the self-checkout bot keeps telling you to place an item on the scanner or remove the bag.)

Nevertheless, the bank hopes the machine will reduce customer waiting time and provide consumers with more options using the real-time PTM teller option.

Consumers aren't exactly clamoring for changes to ATM machines. According to J.D. Power's 2012 Retail Banking Satisfaction study , banking consumers are pretty happy with current ATM technology. The study ranks consumer attitudes about banking services on a 1,000-point scale, and satisfaction with ATMs hit a level of 815 this year, compared to 795 in 2011.

"Satisfaction with ATMs is driven by the increased reliability, user friendliness and functionality found in the newer generation of ATMs in which many banks have invested the past few years," said Michael Beird, director of banking services at J.D. Power in the study release. "One of the most pertinent metrics is the percentage of customers who use ATMs to make deposits has more than doubled over the past four years, from 19 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2012."

Dollar Bank is taking the Steve Jobs approach, regardless of current ATM-contentment: don't ask consumers what they want because they don't know what they want. Or in other words, build it and they will come (and chat with the PTM.)

Any banking service that gets customers in out and out more quickly, with the high level of customer experience they expect, can only help with customer satisfaction, so expect your bank branch ATM to become more "human" sometime soon.

More on banking:

Does it make sense to use the closest ATM ?

Should you opt for overdraft fee protection ?

By Brian O'Connell

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