a bank teller performing transaction for a customer

Bank tellers are not being made redundant – instead, they’re getting a raise. Source: Shutterstock

Why bank tellers still have a job in the age of automation

ROBOTS are gracing the front desks of banks. This seems like a precursor to a future of banking without tellers; the reality is, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Tellers are not going away.

Traditionally, tellers help customers perform routine financial services; Today, those functions are easily done on mobile phones. Instead, tellers are being trained to pitch loans, guide local entrepreneurs, and offer technical support.

According to a report by Bloomberg, it seems that people are happy seeking answers without assistance until they hit a snag. Users immediately expect help from a qualified banker, but not in basic banking functions, but rather in more technical aspects such as when an online service doesn’t accept a particular payment.

Bloomberg wrote: “There’s a high tolerance for self-service until it fails, and then there’s no tolerance.”

This has resulted in an increase in demand for bankers with a very different skill set. By retraining tellers as “digital bankers”, financial institutions aim to have more universal tellers who can answer more complex questions.

In some cases, the role of a teller moves from a branch, to on screen. Some banks have started trialing video teller machines – ATM looking units that connect users to a human at a push of a button.

Across the industry, the sentiment is similar – keep branches lean. While all the products and services are available online, mobile banking isn’t a sure-fire solution that would work for every customer.

Not all customers are ready to change towards a digital approach. Many bank branches remain open (sometimes increasing), catering to customers who feel uncomfortable using ATMs for making deposits or cash withdrawals.

In turn, the purpose of humans in banks now go beyond banking functions; instead, they are focused on providing a more personalized experience.

As the financial sector focuses on bringing in technology to facilitate their operations and provide better customer service, humans remain crucial in the process.

While robots are ideal for replacing routine banking functions, humans and branches will get leveled up to cater according to customer demands. Rather than getting replaced, roles are changing to ensure process gaps created by technology are filled.