Automated Bank: Do You Still Want a Live Teller?

When it comes to innovation and change, sometimes it can come too fast.


Technology and innovation are all around us. Change has become common. Sometimes, however, it takes time to adapt to the rapid pace of innovation around us. 

Recently, I became aware of a new “automated” branch bank in Dallas’ urban area that eliminated the tellers. In a nutshell, the live tellers were replaced by remote tellers that were accessed via large flat screens to centralized operations centers to handle customer needs.   

As a real estate professional, I was curious to see this new incarnation of a branch. At a basic operational level, it made a lot of sense. Most, if not all of us, have converted to online banking long ago, and many of us are making the move to their mobile platforms. In addition, we routinely use “live talk” when ordering things online. 


So, it makes sense that we have become comfortable with more remote transactions-related interactions. Clearly, we still need access to a branch for certain business, but not at the same level as in the past — and this automation allows banks to serve their customer base better and save costs.

Upon entering the branch, I was greeted by the concierge and saw other bank personnel busy at work. What I also saw surprised me. There was an alcove of tellers transacting business. Thinking I might be in the wrong branch, I asked the concierge about the “automated” bank.

I was told that when they opened without tellers, customer criticism was significant and universal. Everyone missed the tellers and demanded their return. People at the branch for personal business did not feel comfortable with the remote tellers and, importantly, business customers had difficulty to in completing some transactions such as depositing large numbers of checks, cutting cashiers’ checks, and the like. 


So, the brand new space was reconfigured to re-accommodate tellers.

This is not to say that the automation effort failed. 

Rather, it is just a simple example that sometimes innovation these days feels shockingly fast — and something that would seem easy to implement given the years of online and mobile banking acceptance still requires time for users to adapt.

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R E A D   N E X T

Bialas is a seasoned real estate professional with more than 25 years of creative problem-solving experience in the consulting, banking, and development industries across all property types and major (...)