'Personal Teller Machines' Come To Michigan

Dan Meisler
Michigan Business Review

A southeast Michigan credit union is the first financial institution in the state to install souped-up ATMs that include a video link to a live teller in a move that officials hope will improve workflow efficiency.

The personal teller machine was installed in May by Community Choice Credit Union at its Farmington Hills headquarters. The credit union is planning two more installations at its Milford branch by the beginning of July.

The machines can accomplish any transaction done by a live teller, said Community Choice CEO Rob Bava. They also offer the promise of a more flexible and efficient workforce, he said.

"It helps us in two ways. It helps our efficiency during the day because we can staff the PTMs with team members in remote locations," he said. "And it allows us to put these machines into remote locations from our branches, and beyond the traditional 9 to 5 hours."

For example, Bava said that if customer traffic at one branch is significantly higher than at another, tellers from the slower location can help out at the busier one through the PTMs.
"Under the traditional model, if we have three team members at every location, there's no possible way to help out a branch in a different city," he said.

For the moment, he said, the Farmington Hills headquarters will house the tellers that will staff the PTMs.

PTMs have been installed in a handful of other states, Bava said. The Legislative Assembly of Ontario is also considering a proposal from Health Minister David Caplan to allow a similar type of machine to distribute prescriptions in remote areas of the province.

"I really do believe it's the wave of the future," Bava said.

PTMs also are a significant part of Community Choice's new model of interior design and customer experience in place at its Farmington Hills branch. Instead of being confronted with a line to see a teller, customers are greeted by an individual team member when they come in the door, and are asked what kind of services they need. They then have several options to proceed, including completing the transaction in a private office, a one-on-one interaction with a teller in a pod rather than a traditional window, and a PTM.

Bava said the idea may be replicated at other of the credit union's seven branches.

"The whole branch is set up to promote more personal interaction with our members," he said. "We don't have a timeline, but based on the success of the Farmington Hills branch, we'll be retrofitting our other offices."


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