Self-service banking

Self-service banking is a service where customers can conduct financial transactions and activities using devices and channels without going into a branch. This service is convenient for customers to stay on top of their finances at any time of day without being limited by long wait times or a closed bank branch or call center.


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Self-service banking has become not just a want but a necessity—for both customers and corporations. While the historic days of customer service almost always meant talking with someone in person, customers have plenty of avenues today. Zendesk even found that 69% of customers want to resolve issues on their own using self-service options before turning to another human. 

Additionally, the years 2020 and 2021 led to record bank closures and permanent transitions to the digital space for some financial services. And with the cost of living crisis and unstable market conditions, customers need to stay connected to their finances at all times—whether they’re checking their account balances on their commute or paying a bill late at night.

What are examples of self-service banking? 

  • Automatic telling machines (ATM): ATMs are an electronic, representative-free service that allows customers to withdraw cash, deposit checks, and transfer funds without having to step foot into a branch. 
  • Interactive Teller Machines (ITM): With ITMs, customers can perform a variety of transactions. However, they’re differentiated from ATMs in that they offer video chatting features so customers can chat with tellers, and more.
  • Interactive kiosks: Similar to ATMs but with more features, interactive kiosks are handy in case bank tellers aren’t available. Customers can avoid long lines or branch closures by using an interactive kiosk for cash and check transactions, credit card applications, and loan activity.
  • Contactless transactions like cardless readers: While credit and debit cards have historically needed to be inserted or swiped, contactless chip cards allow consumers to tap their card against a reader to access an ATM or make a purchase. 
  • Biometric identification: Also known as facial or fingerprint scanning, this form of identity technology allows consumers to scan their facial features or hold down their fingerprints to access their banking accounts.
  • Online banking: Whether you choose to do banking on mobile or desktop, digital banking replaces the need to visit a branch in person and offers all you need with an internet connection. 
  • Personalization: Banking personalization examples include charts of spending habits broken up into categories, budgeting tools, and goal-setting features. Get this right, and you can increase customer engagement and improve your platform’s CX
  • Digital wallets: With common options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, and Venmo, digital wallets allow you to pay a retailer or friend in seconds. 

Why financial services need better self-service banking experiences 

Banks that are less reliant on in-person services and embracing the digital face a number of key benefits. A recent Zendesk report found that customer service ticket volume has increased across all channels, including email, chat, phone, and more, in 2021 compared to 2020. By arming your organization with unparalleled banking self-service options, you’ll benefit from minimized traffic to call centers and branches, leading to decreased operating costs, increased user satisfaction and retention, and less potential for human error. 

Finance consumers increasingly expect convenience and flexibility yesterday, and if they don’t receive it, they’ll look elsewhere. While you don’t have to implement every single self-service offering simultaneously, providing your customer with added freedom and options ensures you’re adapting to the times and keeping up with competitors. And at the very least, you’re meeting consumer expectations—while you tackle your product’s next big feature or update that can exceed them. 

If you’re not sure where to start, whether your organization is new to self-service banking or modernizing the existing experience, use usability testing as your compass. You’ll learn straight from your customers on how they feel about your chatbot and how your banking navigation can be improved. 

The future of self-service banking

The self-service banking trends to keep on your radar include: 

  • The rise of digital banking: Almost 65.3% of Americans use digital banking services, and this number is expected to grow.
  • Contactless transactions and solutions: As of 2020, about 51% of Americans now use some form of contactless payment.
  • Improved cybersecurity: The financial industry reportedly spends the second most of any industry experiencing attacks, according to IBM, with an average cost of $5.7 million per data breach. These risk factors have resulted in many financial institutions planning to boost their security budget as of 2022.
  • The prioritization of sustainable practices: While some customers may still receive their credit card statements or financial notices in the mail, others are going the paperless route—with 87% of millennials planning to pay at least one bill digitally in 2021. The benefits aren’t just customer convenience and less environmental stress. A Deloitte study on a retail bank found that by eliminating paper from the process, operating expenses in processing can be reduced by as high as 25%.

Omnichannel banking: An omnichannel service can be described as simplifying the movement between multiple channels. For instance, a customer can surf for credit card options on desktop, contact a call center for questions, and finish the process on mobile. The payoff for omnichannel banking can be significant. McKinsey found that one European bank that implemented omnichannel changes saw a consistent sales growth of as high as 20% in two to three years.